daydreams are important. they can do more than simply help us momentarily escape from the demands of our life. they help us see and imagine our future. they help us define our goals. daydreams let us see the possibilities.
sometimes, however, daydreams are paralyzing. mine can be. oftentimes, they stop me from moving at all. what if your dreams start to feel less like possibilities and more like imperatives? what happens if your dreams aren’t even close to reality? what if your dreams don’t come true? what if your dreams are harmful in some way? taking these questions into account, it occurs that my daydreams are not doing me any good in their current incarnations. it’s time to let them go, or at least evolve.
i’ve recently come to realize that my daydreams are having a negative effect. my fantasy life breaks out of the bounds it should be under. the wishes contained therein seem too often in control of my choices. my dreams show me a fantastic future. there’s no plan, no set of steps, just a vision of what my life will be if i can just get one simple thing done. get thin. eating disorders invade every area of your life. the goals are unrealistic, and the dreams are straight up fantasies, but i wallow in them, embracing the feelings i imagine i’ll have when they come true, and judging myself a failure when they don’t.
it’s become apparent that i can’t let my fantasies be in control – i have to direct them; i have to connect them to my life and to reality. for instance, though it’s not completely impossible, it is unlikely that i’ll be discovered by someone who’s someone while out for a walk. it probably won’t lead to getting cast in a movie, winning an Oscar, and becoming the next big thing. it’s not impossible, but it is improbable. i’m not even allowed to fill that dream yet, since it always drifts back onto old ground – change your body and change your life; therein lies happiness. holding onto the idea that dreams like this will help me find my truth, my joy, and my life path is not helpful. i need to let those fantasies go. i need to recognize that even without them coming true, i’ll be okay.
there’s nothing wrong with the occasional flight of fancy, unless you only embrace the unrealistic ones. these daydreams of mine are better suited to the teenager that was so many years back. now, they waste my time. they stop me from developing newer, better dreams. they stop me from healing. in them, i’m completely passive. i sit and wait, until an external actor arrives, to make my life over for me in a way that makes it clear to the world that as a human being, i’m okay.
it’s alright to want things. it’s alright to want fantastic things, magical things. it’s alright to want things to be easy. it’s okay to dream. it’s good, even. it gets less good if your dreaming leaves you absent from your life. nothing in these my fantasies encourages me to try or to do. they ignore the fact that hard work is required to achieve things in life. that truism is never part of my imaginings. in my daydreams, i am always rescued, and life proceeds perfectly from there.
i was reading a book recently and came across a line that appealed:
“all through our lives, there are resignations of wishes.” (Rogers, Fred. (2005).
Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers. New York, NY. Family Communications, Inc.)
it’s a mature and slightly depressing point of view that rings both true and necessary. we cannot do everything and have everything we dreamed of when we children. i have nowhere to put a pony, and it’s not a good idea to wait for your life.
in my real life, in the world of the here and now, i have work that needs to get done, children to care for, bills to pay, a house to maintain, family and friends to make time for, health issues to address, and values i’d like to impart. i have a self i need to find and a psyche i’m trying to patch back together. i have an eating disorder i’m trying to beat. i’m not fighting as hard as i can when i let myself wallow in my escapist daydreams. it’s easier there for sure. i’m happier in my daydreams because everything is going my way. all my fears and all my neuroses are irrelevant. it’s not real life though, and it will never be and of late, i’m less willing to pay the costs associated with my escapes from the reality. i’m becoming a fan of truth.
a lot of time is spent waiting, for all of us. me, for too long, i’ve been waiting to engage with my life until i’m perfect enough, until i’m okay enough. it’s one of the hallmarks of my eating disorder. “i can’t begin my real life yet but soon. i’m not thin enough, not pretty enough, not stylish enough, not perfect enough. i will be though, and when i am, then i can make my dreams come true.”
so i’ve been waiting. i’ve been waiting until i’m thin to find out what inspires me. i’ve been waiting until i’m thin to start living my dreams. i’ve been waiting until i’m thin to show my true colours to the world. i’ve been waiting until i’m thin to work on my relationships. because thin is perfect. thin deserves the world of my dreams. the thing is, my dreams are getting old, and i’m not perfect yet, so i’m still waiting.
my daydreams are holding me back. they are less flight of fantasy and more dead weight. they are stopping me from the doing – too busy with the fantasizing. even in the right here and right now, time has passed without a word making it onto the paper. instead, i float along in a pleasant dream where some famous editor or other, from some famous publication or other finds my words and contacts me, declaring that it’s the most brilliant piece of writing she’s ever seen. a column follows, along with awards and recognition. i’m happy, i’m seen, i have value. in the dream at least but here in the real world, the page is blank.
i know it’s time to let drifting through my life go. it’s time to embrace the “resignation of wishes”. my daydreams are the undeveloped wishes of an unhappy child. anticipating a happy future is fine but not at the expense of the present. it’s a hard truth, but ultimately what happens out in the world is beyond my control.
the past is also beyond me. another hard lesson. no matter how much i obsess or castigate myself, i cannot undo what is. i cannot get back the time i spent evading my life. i can do better in the future, or at least try.
the problem with a new point of view is its unfamiliarity. my hair shirt is uncomfortable but i’m used to it. there is comforting familiarity in my self-condemnation, even when i know my behaviours are self-destructive.
so i’m ready to let the old dreams go. it feels like time. i want to stop dreaming about bright lights and the adulation of strangers. i want to stop dreaming about thin. i want to stop dreaming of perfection. i want to be here instead. i want to be present. i want to focus on the real and the important. i want to live according to my ideals and have the courage to address the things that are important to me, undistracted by my fantasies of what life will be like once i get discovered, accomplished, and thin.
it’s taken five decades for it to sink in that this is it. that life is finite. for me to really realize that i have only a limited amount of time and a limited number of chances and i’m wasting them. my eating disorder encourages me to stay small, to stay insular, to stay unhealthy. it wants me to hide out in my fantasies and to refuses to let go of unrealistic wishes. my less-healthy self wants me to stay hidden away in dreams because if i stop, if i look up and out, if i rejoin the world, i will wishes, ones that are better, that are achievable, and that have a value beyond visible bone structures.
i’m tired of being selfish. i’m tired of self-centered dreams and wishes. i’m tired of drifting through life. i want to look out rather than in. i want new dreams. ones that will let me bring something good to the world. big or small, that’s not the point. i’m tired of my dreams being all about me. i want to let go of the idea that i need shiny things to win strangers’ acceptance and approval. i want to let go of needing validation from without. it’s time to grow up and let the scared little girl inside me, who still thinks in terms of perfection and body weight, go. it’s time to embrace the other me, and seek out dreams that will enhance my life, not hold me back and diminish.