Ten years ago, an eccentric individual stepped on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent to chase a dream of being a professional singer. She didn’t look the part, in fact she was the laughing stock of the audience and judges alike. The video on Youtube has since received over two hundred million views and her dreams of singing have materialized while transforming the awkward first impressions and naysayers into standing ovations and fans. The singer, Susan Boyle, is now living her dream as a successful singer. Her voice seems to dance in the air and drift into pure bliss as it settles in your ear. But her song selection during her debut audition requires further evaluation as it applies to all of us at one time or another.
When I came home from work one day and told my wife that I wanted to quit my job and go back to school to work in the medical field, she thought I was crazy. It wasn’t the first time I had a wild dream nor the last, but the dream of going back to school required me to quit working, at least for a short time. This posed a serious predicament that needed addressed carefully. We had to answer the questions; How would we pay the bills, how would we get insurance, and what if…? In short, it was a dream like Susan Boyle singing professionally, except my judges and audience were my family and friends. They were mostly bewildered at my aspirations considering I had a family to provide for.
The idea of abandoning a good job that was secure to chase a dream was outside the realm of possibility for most to understand. Whether it’s a career change, lifestyle change, or a relationship, most people can’t fathom the idea. It would be nice to be a physician, but what about the hours, the insurance, the schooling, etc… it follows that most people would rather be comfortable in what they know, whether they like it or not. It’s a safer bet to stick to what is known, but as the song of life goes on and the lyrics of Susan Boyle’s audition unfold, it’s clear that our life is sometimes what gets in the way of our dreams.
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed
As I write, these words take on a special meaning as my close friend is soliciting my advice about a potential career move. Something I’ve done at his age, something that brings back memories. The fear and anxiety of leaving the only thing you know, to chase a dream. Full of unknowns and surprises, it’s easy to see why people choose a blanket of security that they can cover up with; whether it’s a relationship, habit, or a career, people are afraid to change.
Dreams are easily paralyzed by the acceptance of the ordinary. Fulfilling a lifelong dream can seem scary and impossible in comparison to just moving forward in a complacent pattern, meandering through life like a lost caterpillar crossing a busy road; completely content moving without regards to the oncoming traffic. Does it sound familiar? Are your dreams being held back by the life you live? Are you even dreaming or remember the dreams that you had?
When I got back from Iraq, people asked if I was ever afraid of dying; the answer was no. I was afraid of not living my life to the fullest. What’s holding you back and where do you want to go? Your dreams are worth chasing!
Eric Keller is an RN at University Hospitals Portage Medical Center