Once upon a time I was a little girl with a dream. That dream was to be a Policewoman on horseback, over the years that changed into dreams of being a fashion designer. As I reached my early teens and discovered Shakespeare I dreamt of being either an actress or a writer. At no point did it ever cross my mind that I wouldn’t achieve these dreams. That’s the beauty of children they don’t have a little voice in their head telling them all the things that could go wrong, they don’t entertain the notion of “practicality” or have been conditioned to follow their head not their heart.
When you are a young child and people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, you can say you want to be an astronaut and they will be positive and enthusiastic. You would have to be a pretty callous person to pour doubt on the dreams of a small child. However fast forward a few years to your mid teens and you will most likely be met with a lot of negativity. You will be told how hard that is to achieve or how few people reach this goal. You will be asked about having a more realistic goal. You could substitute Astronaut for pretty much any dream here – that was just an example. It seems it’s more acceptable to persuade you from your dreams when you are that little bit older. It’s seen as being responsible and preparing you for the reality of life. It isn’t done with any ill meaning or malice it’s often done to protect you and with your best interests at heart.
I find it hard to pinpoint when I started to lose my self belief that I would achieve my dreams probably around 14/15. At the time when schools and society in general started to focus on our future, steering us on the path to a career we were “suited” to and “capable” of achieving. At the time I accepted their advice it’s only now years later that I look back and think but how did they know what I was capable of? At that age I didn’t even know myself, yet here I was being told by someone else. Why is it that we allow people to tell us what we are capable of and how we should be living our lives?
I found myself drifting through the education system – it was expected because I was “capable” of it. Without knowing it I had stopped listening to my own dreams and I was doing what society thought I should be doing. I wasn’t doing something I felt passionate about, that excited me and as a result I didn’t have that motivation or driving force to finish my degree. I dropped out and for many years felt a failure for this. I drifted from job to job. There was no reasoning behind the jobs I was doing I was simply lost and just looking for something to make me happy and fulfilled – I even found myself working in Magaluf selling Vodka Jelly for a living at one point.
At 24 I found out I was pregnant – I was temping, working part time in a bar and living with my Gran. I worked purely to fund my social life which was really the only thing I cared about at that point. I had lost all ambition and my dreams of anything else were buried. Finding out I was pregnant was a complete shock but overnight I changed. I had found a dream and a purpose again. I wanted to be someone my baby would be proud of and to ensure she was provided for. I clearly remember waking up the day after finding out and although still in shock, I was filled with this burning motivation to make a success of myself and sort myself out. I was a single parent so I knew I was all my daughter had. I wouldn’t let her down.
I did it. I worked very hard, working my way up through temporary admin roles. I spent days filing, losing the will to live but being determined to be the best filer the company had so they would give me more responsibility and work. It paid off and at about 7 months pregnant I was asked to be the administrator for a small project on a temporary basis. I ended up getting taken on to do this permanently when my daughter was born. Within 5 years I was working for a charity as a Senior Project Manager.
Sadly the charity hit financial difficulties and we were all given the choice of redundancy or swapping to a zero hours contract. I was expecting my middle daughter at the time and the unstabilty of a zero hours contract was not feasible with 2 children to support so I opted for redundancy. Unfortunately it transpired that once again I would be a single parent. I planned to find another job doing similar but was quite shocked to discover unless I could find a job paying a massive salary I wouldn’t be able to afford to live and pay childcare.
For a while it felt like that my world had come crashing down. I felt lost again. I felt a failure again. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I just felt helpless. I still had my dream though to make my children proud and provide for them. I just needed to rethink how I did this. I knew my only option was to work from home so I started a small craft business which made a small profit and allowed me a bit of an income. I suffered with depression and anxiety during this period but with medication managed to live with it and still carry on day to day. Looking back I think the medication masked the illness but didn’t actually deal with it.
In 2013, I met my current partner and in 2015 had my youngest daughter. Life was pretty good. I worked full-time in a job I enjoyed whilst my partner stayed at home looking after the children. My partner was also battling mental illness which got quite bad especially when he reacted very badly to an increase in his medication. Overnight our world was turned upside down. I won’t go into details as it isn’t my story to tell but me and the girls had to move away to a new house, I had to leave my job and had no contact with my partner for 6 months. This time I couldn’t see a way out. I let my depression and anxiety spiral. My dream of supporting the girls and making them proud seemed further away than it had ever been – thinking like this further fuelled the depression and I really did hit rock bottom.
But that’s the thing with dreams, they can change over time and turn but I don’t think they ever really disappear and are always there inside you giving you that tiny glimmer of hope that there is another way. It was this little glimmer of hope that propelled me to start finding other ways to get better – after seeing what happened when medication went wrong I wanted to find another way to deal with my depression so started to work on my mindset and learn all the methods for doing this. Its taken a few years but I am happy to say I came out the other side – as did my partner.
Today I still have a dream and now I don’t try to silence it anymore, it’s stronger than ever. It’s evolved as I have further pushed the boundaries of what I capable of, discovered more about what sets me on fire and found what I believe strongly in.
The policewoman on horseback has been replaced by a strong woman who doesn’t let life knock her down, whose children are proud of her because she is proud of herself for overcoming life’s hurdles and keeping going. The fashion designer has changed into someone who helps others work on their own mindsets so they have the tools to follow their own dreams and live happy, fulfilling lives. The actress and writer has become a woman who is writing her own story and playing her own leading lady.
We all start off with a dream which we shouldn’t let anyone discourage us from however should that dream alter, just change direction and go with it. Don’t let others discourage you from your dreams – only you know what you are capable of (and the chances are you probably don’t realise just how much you actually are capable of). Don’t ever stop working towards a dream even if it changes – it’s what inspires us, motivates us and keeps us going through the inevitable hard times.
If you ever doubt yourself try to think back to being that small child with a dream. You are still that same child (you’ve just grown a bit). Would you tell that child their dream wasn’t possible? I am guessing the answer is no.