It is so fun to watch kids dream. Kids dream without limitations. It’s something that we somehow lose along the way as we grow up.
I know a lot of my friends and family have watched me mess up throughout the years. Time and time again they have watched me do something with excitement only to see me be absolutely miserable once I get there. I know that many of them think that much of what I do is to please the person I am with. I am sure you know someone who plays the chameleon, or have done it yourself. Ever changing trying to find out who they are based on who they are trying to get to love them. I get that, and I get the skepticism surrounding it too.
I have spent my entire adult life, and most of my pre adult life trying to be the right person because somehow the person I wanted to be wasn’t good enough. I was told by family, teachers, school mates, friends, professors, lovers, who I SHOULD be instead of being encouraged to be who I was.
Now that I am a parent I sit back and watch my kids, and their friends, and my friends kids, going through the same thing. We do this to our children because we somehow feel that it’s what is best for them. We mold them into who we think they should be. This is fine in terms of manners, how they should treat people, normal functioning in today’s world, but it’s not ok when it comes to their dreams.
I look at my sister and I admire her. She always knew what she wanted to do. She was encouraged to do it, but she was also just as discouraged as I was. She did it anyway. Despite everything she did it anyway. I always thought that because of that she was somehow better than me, that I had to be more like her, but I didn’t. The difference is that I am a people pleaser where she isn’t. It was more important for me to have friends and have people like me than it was to follow my dreams.
It took me almost 30 years to remember my dream. I was talking about sustainability when I was in first grade. If you asked me then what I wanted to do with my life I would have told you about the farm I was going to have. It was going to have cows, pigs, lots of chickens, a goat, and a garden. We were going to live off the land an grow all of our own food. I was excited about this. I thought this kind of life was fascinating. The problem is, it’s not a life that will make you rich. It’s not a life that fits the “norm”, especially not when you are living right outside DC. instead of being encouraged I was told “oh so you want to be a vet?” “Why don’t you become a doctor?” “You could probably cure diseases!” “People don’t live like that anymore” and my favorite “are you sure thats what you want to do? That’s a lot of hard work”. Like anything else in this works isn’t hard work?!? Was I somehow not a hard worker?
So I went to college, got my awesome degree in ecology. I fought getting a biology degree for the first 2 years because I didn’t want to do what everyone expected me to do. I was afraid then I might have to be a doctor. And by the way I would make the worlds worst doctor ever. I would be like House. I can’t stand most sick people, but that’s a whole other blog.
I then moved to Kentucky. I moved there not for opportunity in my field but because the person i loved most wouldn’t move out of Kentucky for me. I moved there with no real dream other than to get married, and girls, that’s not a dream. That’s something you do along the way. I got married, moved into a subdivision, got a typical job, and hated my life. I hated every minute of it.
When I turned 30 I guess I hit a quarter life crisis. I quit my job to work from home and started doing the things I did (or wanted to do) as a child. I started making my own clothes again, grew a garden, and started to let go of the expectations everyone had for me. I started to get a life for myself again. After a lot of trying to get square pegs to fit into round holes I left my life. I left my husband (yet another long story for another day), I left my house, and I started over.
I may have come to where I am by moving backwards, but I am where I am by finally fighting through the expectations everyone has for me. I know there are a lot of people very close to me who still think this is stupid, or I haven’t thought it through enough, or I an just doing what C wants to do, or whatever. The difference is that now I am surrounding myself not with people I want to like me but people who already do and who are supporting me in this dream. It is a much bigger dream than most people realize.
I look back and wonder what I could have done with my life if I had fought through the negativity and been encouraged more to follow crazy little kid dreams. There is so much I can do with myself now. There is no reason why I can’t teach sustainability to others. The homesteading community here is huge and it’s only growing. I have the background, experience, and motivation to really help other people move into this lifestyle. C is all for it too. He talks about potentially growing the property into someplace where people can experience this kind of lifestyle and realize that they can do even little things to change the world. We have the potential in making a really big difference to the world without having to sacrifice the things that make me happy, and I get to share it with someone I love. My seven year old self would be very proud of me.