The Inconvenience of Dreaming
At the top of a long list of things I’m currently avoiding doing is the task of packing up my room to move to a new apartment. After that on the list is a series of time and energy consuming projects — ranging in intensity from “make sure mom knows how to pay your bills” to “build an adequate team of donors so you can start your nonprofit job in August” — that have to be completed before I leave the country for a month in less than a week and a half. I am going to work at a summer camp in British Columbia, so not only am I being pulled far away from my normal routine for a month, I am being pulled away to a secluded location with no wifi or cell service, and there is not a more inconvenient time I can think of to do that than right now.
Right now I am worried about packing all of my belongings, not only for a month away, but to move across town. I am worried about having all my ducks in a row for the new job I begin immediately when I get back. I am worried about my bills getting paid and my emails going unanswered and all the toiletries I haven’t even thought about buying yet. Being pulled out of the routine of my adult life at this current moment is more than just a little jarring, it feels completely chaotic.
And, obviously, no one is forcing me to do this. No one broke into my house, forced my hand and pressed the send button on the application for the summer camp while I screamed helplessly in the background. No one is coming to kidnap me next week to hold me hostage for a month in one of the most visually appealing places I’ve ever Google image searched. I have been obsessively daydreaming about this camp since I first read about it last fall. There is something about camp settings that make my heart come alive, and I am more than thrilled to be spending a month in a place where I can wake up and have my coffee every morning on a deck that overlooks mountains and water—all while not being distracted by social media or the outside world. But as much as I want to be there investing my time and energy doing work I really believe in, in a place I’ve dreamed of going to, the desire to do something is almost never synonymous with the convenience of doing something. In my experience, if something is easy and convenient and doesn’t cost you anything, you should probably reevaluate whether or not it’s the thing you should be doing.
Something I’ve observed in the last six months since graduating college is this sense of urgency that is attached to the post-grad life. You can no longer reasonably use college as a crutch to put off the things you want to do until tomorrow. There is no longer the open net of endless time that will catch you when you decide to binge-watch Netflix for 12 hours instead of working on that blog you’ve been dreaming of creating.
I was under the illusion that graduating college would make it easier to chase after the dreams that have been put on my heart. While graduating does seem to cultivate a lot of free time, it also comes with the fear that attaches itself to adult responsibility and often paralyzes us from doing anything too risky or inconvenient.
I can’t quit the job I hate because I have to pay rent.
I can’t travel the world because there’s no time and no money.
I can’t run away to a summer camp for a month because there are too many other things to do.
There will always be a lot of excuses to not do the things we want to do, and if we would like our dreams to fit into our lives and not fizzle out under the demands of practicality, we have to intentionally clear a space for them. The things we desire to do don’t normally fit stacked nice and neat, taking up little space on a bookshelf in our lives. We have to move the furniture around, rearrange the way we’ve laid out our rug and chairs, pack up and get rid of the things that we have no use for anymore. We have to untidy the nice and comfortable little life we’ve arranged if we’re ever going to make space for the things we truly care about. It’s going to be messy and inconvenient and probably throw you into a panic about forfeiting your sense of security, but the alternative is that your desires and hopes remain on the very top shelf of your closet, collecting dust and losing life.
As I process what it’s going to look like to be away from my life in Nashville for a month, and as I chaotically scramble to pull myself together in the form of a to-do list before I leave, my hope is that all my fears about discomfort and decision-making and inconvenience would shrivel in comparison to the glory of doing what I’ve been called to do. This is just one moment in my life, one month out of my year, but I have faith that it will teach me to trust in my dreams and desires and distrust the screaming temptation of my comfort zone.
Maybe your desire is to fight for justice in an intercity or to work for a nonprofit that helps single moms or to travel the world and have an endless amount of time to write and create — make space for those things that make your heart come alive because, I promise, there’s a reason they do.
[Photo by Julie Bloom.]