My parents have always pushed me to chase my dreams, and that’s all they pushed me toward. I think only now am I realizing just how rare of a support system that was/is to have. When I went to college (completely my decision), I got to go to the one that I chose, and I got to major in anything that I wanted, because they supported that in every way.
When I was trying to settle on what to do with my life, my parents always told me things that I really doubt most parents instill in their children before they make their life decisions, honestly (that I’m very thankful they did).
“It doesn’t matter how much money you will make, what will make you happy? What will you wake up every day EXCITED to go do? What is your dream?”
That made the answer easy for me: Dance.
My first dream has always been to be a Mom, but you can’t go to college for that, and that wasn’t on the radar anytime soon. What I would wake up excited every day to go do would be to get to dance. It was my heart and soul growing up, what I looked forward to every day, my therapy; it made me so incredibly happy. Thinking of dancing every day was, “I GET to do this,” instead of, “I HAVE to do this,” for me. I wanted to be a dance teacher! Easy, peasy! So that’s exactly what I did!
When I tell people I have my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance, I always get the same responses: “You know you won’t make any money as a dancer, right?” “Is that even a real degree?” “Oh, so you didn’t do anything in college?” “What in the world can you even do with that?”
Comments like that sit with you.. Until you shift your perspective.
After anyone would say those things to me, I had to remind myself of a few things:
- Whose opinions really matter to me?
- Why did I choose to go that route in the first place?
- Most importantly: It. Is. My. Dream.
Then shortly before I graduated, I met the most amazing man and somehow tricked him into wanting to marry me 😉
3 short months after we were married, we found out that we were pregnant! There is nothing that has filled my heart more in this lifetime than being a Mom, and I always knew that, that’s exactly who I was made to be. To the core of my soul, I felt it. My Mom always said that before I could talk, I would sit and rock my baby dolls. I never had to search for who I wanted to be job-wise, I’ve always known that.
So before I could take my second dream of being a dancer, I got to take my first dream job: being a stay at home Mom. At the risk of sounding a bit dramatic (probably mostly to those who don’t yet have children) when my daughter was born, it’s as if that’s the time in my life when I became whole; she quite literally completes who I am.
Wouldn’t you know, though, that I get the same sort of reaction when people ask me what I do as I did when I told them I was a dancer?
“Oh, so you gave up on your dreams? You have no other aspirations for yourself? You make no money? You don’t have a real job/don’t do anything all day? So that’s ALL you do?”
And there’s a common theme:
The outside world wants me to do what will make me the most money to consider me successful.
Luckily for me, I believe they’re wrong.
I say lucky because I wake up every day so happy with what I get to do. If all I were doing were chasing a job that would make me money.. Well it wouldn’t be this job and it wouldn’t be dance either… so I really wouldn’t wake up happy at all. Those are the only two things I am this passionate about.
Would the outside world measure me successful if I were a surgeon? Oh, absolutely! I would be rich with money.
But would I be happy? Would that be my dream? No.. not at all.
And am I rich now in all of the things in life that MATTER more than money? Absolutely. I’m the richest poor person in the world.
And that’s why I have to remind myself that the outside world’s opinions are not the ones who should matter to me.
Right now, my husband and I are at a crossroad in our life. He’s leaving the job he’s currently at, and we have no idea what is next for us. No idea where we’re moving to, what his next job will be, where we’re going, anything. And that’s honestly so scary.
Yesterday we reached out to my parents while they were here visiting, asking for advice, throwing around ideas. And we had one of the most powerful talks with my Dad that I can ever remember having with him.
He sat us down and explained that he was only sharing because we asked him for his opinion, that it wasn’t his place otherwise, that he didn’t want to step on our toes. But we begged him to share his heart with us. We are so lost, we’ll take any advice at all. And what my Dad shared with us (and what my Mom agrees with) has our hearts absolutely on fire with inspiration and motivation and excitement that we didn’t know we had in us right now.
And so I’d like to share it.
Dad told us that to the world he is dumb. That 99% of people out there would disagree with what he had to say to us, but that, that’s okay with him. He said that while we were explaining some different options that we discussed job-wise, he never heard something that mattered the most. He heard the monetary gain, the chances for growth in the companies down the road, the insurance coverage, the benefits overall, the sacrifice of hours… but he never heard “This is what I love. This is what I’m excited to do with my life..” and that, that matters more than any of those other things.
He said, “We all die. NOBODY gets out of this alive. So until then, what are you going to do? Are you going to go to a job that has good benefits and then.. Die? OR are you going to wake up every day with your heart on absolute fire for what you get to do, happy with what you’re sharing with the world.. And then die at peace with how you lived?”
“What do you have to offer the world? What GOOD can you do for other people that you LOVE to do? If that job you were talking about is what you love to do, then go do it! But if it’s a safety net because of the money and the benefits, if it’s just the best option money-wise, then I promise that no growth in that job will ever be enough. No money will ever be enough.. nothing will make you happy until you wake up doing what you love to do.”
And then he said the most important and knowledgeable thing I think I’ve ever heard any human being say, the entire time I’ve been alive. My Dad said, “In my opinion.. You have to sit with yourself for a while. You have to put away the phone, stop talking to people, stop applying to jobs, stop looking online.. Sit in silence. Sit in silence with YOU and GOD and THAT IS IT. And what you have to do is FIGURE OUT YOUR PURPOSE. Why are you here? What good can you give to the world? I believe that’s the whole point.. To spread as much good in the world as possible. To figure out what it is that you love that is also spreading positivity in some way, helping people somehow. When you figure out your purpose, you will know what your dream is. You will figure out what it is that sets your heart on fire and wakes you up excited every day to do, and once you do, I don’t care what the other 99% of the world says, the money and the benefits and the chance of growth in the company do. not. matter. When your heart is at peace with WHO YOU ARE and what you feel MEANT to do, the rest of life will fall into place. And then you will get to really, really LIVE until you die. And in my opinion, that’s what it’s all about. Just find your purpose and go from there. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and the rest will be added unto you. It’s just so true. Find your purpose first. The rest will fall into place.”
And then I got to hear that same advice that they gave before I chose what to do with my life:
Forget about the money. What. Is. Your. Dream? What is it that sets your heart on fire?
And I had the most overwhelming feeling of gratitude and thankfulness and motivation.. Because I’m living mine already.
I KNOW that I was made to be a Mom. What I have to give to the world is who I can teach that little girl to be for the world. A love and a light and a kind and generous human being, and I love nothing more than getting to witness all of the tiny moments throughout every day that are moulding her to be just that. If I could pick ANY job in the world to do, it would be this one. It sets my heart on fire in all the most amazing ways.
My parents have always supported my dreams. My husband is supportive of my dreams even though that means monetary sacrifices in areas of our life that the outside world doesn’t approve of. But he also understands that what will make Porter’s life beautiful are not things, but having us there with her. And that is so much of why I love him.
I can’t wait to teach Porter about everything in life that will make her rich.. That has nothing at all to do with money, and everything to do with feeding her soul. The same thing that my own Mom taught me in being a stay at home Mom with us, spending her every day doing what she felt made to do, teaching other human beings LOVE, regardless of what the outside world said. The same thing my Dad taught me when he dropped the job that made him miserable to follow his dream and make his heart come alive, to spread GOOD, regardless of what the outside world thought.
If this all means that I’m the 1% that to the world is wrong and dumb and unsuccessful because of what I’m doing with my life, if to the world all that I am is poor, then I’m perfectly okay with that. Because although I make no money at all, I am so, incredibly rich.
At the end of every day I’m not left wanting more; I’m left with a full heart and a happy soul because I get to wake up the next morning and do it again, even on the hard ones. After-all, isn’t that really what people spend their whole lives looking for? Isn’t that what this is all about?