A guest post by Tina Jett of Scatterbox.
Remember Who You Want to Be
That statement is from a bumper sticker I saw online that kind of stopped me in my tracks. When we were little, we were constantly asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. We had our interests, some more varied and short-lived than others, but interests, nonetheless, that we threw ourselves at with reckless abandon.
“I want to be a ballerina!”
“I want to be an explorer!”
And then we grew up.
Think back to that time. What do you recall were the things that stood out as being most prominent in your cabinet of curiosities? What theme can you connect the dots with that take you the furthest down your road of memories? What made you happier than a pig in poo?
What are you doing with your life now?
During my last visit home, I came across a little book I whipped together when I was ten years old about my life and interests at that time. My husband and I laughed at how much I still possessed that simple mind. It was surprising to see how what I loved then translated into what I truly have a love for today.
Aside from things like stickers, kittens, and rainbows (viva la 80s!), roller skating was pretty high on the list. That love faded away in middle school, but almost two decades later, I developed an urge to sack up some courage and try out for my local roller derby league. I made the team. My time with those amazing people brought on a slew of new friends that were re-kindling past desires and searching for inner fires like me.
More than that, I developed the ability to come out of my ridiculously introverted shell and be more like the bold, fearless person I was too scared to be once “real life” set in. It might have given me a little more of an outspoken, sarcastic sailor mouth, too, but hey – I’ll take it over the alternative.
Even my chapter about what I wanted to be when I grew up plainly stated that art and creativity was my calling. I drew a lot back then, but once my days in high school crept towards my days in college, no one told me that making a career in the field of art was a good choice… or a choice at all, for that matter. I traded in my imaginative vision for a little studio filled with paint and pencils for one with a briefcase and a corporate ladder. It took almost twenty years there, as well, to realize that my former dream WAS possible and that to choose anything different would be fatal to my soul.
We get so crippled by the notion of how we should live our lives, based on society’s unwritten rules or our own.
Many don’t realize what time and opportunities they’ve lost until it’s too late. My father died in 2005 at that age of 62 from severe diabetic illness. While he never achieved any of the big goals he spoke of, I will always remember that he did have dreams, often sought out paths to reach them, and never once did I hear him say “I can’t.”
His death was a catalyst for me to open my eyes and realize that none of us have a lot of time on this earth. I decided that I did not want to carry any thoughts of “I wish I had…” with me to the grave.
Recently, I came across a blog post about the five most common regrets people have about their lives when they are faced with death. Surprisingly, none involved wishing they’d worked harder to become a CEO or a millionaire, had more clothes and jewelry, or achieved celebrity status.
These people were on their last breaths when they finally understood the importance of enjoying life, love, and relationships and not being a slave to the workforce or someone else’s ideal of the “right” life choices.
So I ask the question again: What are you doing with your life now? Are you truly happy? Are you the person you always wanted to be or are you bogged down with stress and excuses and work?
Re-connect with those past desires, on whatever level, and create a better you and better relationships with those around you. Now, you don’t necessarily have to figuratively sell the farm to start over, but if that’s your inkling, go for it! Perhaps, instead, you just need a nugget of that lifestyle to bring you the happiness and serenity you crave.
When making your New Year’s resolutions this year, take time to evaluate what is truly important to you. If you always loved art, take some classes on the side to express your creativity. If you still have that passion for nature, volunteer your time at a wildlife preserve. If you wanted to travel the world, maybe get a part-time job with an airline (worked for me!) If you wanted to be a good parent, see how you can eliminate unnecessary tasks and to-dos on your list that will open up more time to spend with your family. If you just wanted to grow up to be happy, make that choice. The brilliant thing is that it is yours to make every day.
Remember who you wanted to be and take the whatever steps necessary to make it happen. It’s never too late.
Tina Jett is a self-taught artist, photographer, and writer whose work reflects a view of life through humor and an awareness of the little things that make us truly happy. Explore Tina’s work in her Etsy shop, Scatterbox. Join her in the pursuit of a happier, simpler life through the e-zine, Spoon.