When I was in elementary school a friend and I were chosen to go to a workshop with a children's book writer and illustrator. We both loved to write little stories and my friend had a natural talent for drawing. I remember him teaching us how to draw an alligator in his style. I'm sure he also talked about things like being a writer, but I mostly remember how proud I was to be there.
I remember feeling like I was recognized for being good at something I loved to do. I felt valued and validated. Most of all, I felt like writing stories was worthwhile and something that made me special.
Over the years, I was pulled in other directions. The idea that I could be a writer became less and less certain. Eventually, it felt like nothing more than a childish fantasy.
I was an English major in college. I truly flourished when writing research papers, and I did love it. But I still had a fantasy of myself as a fiction writer. A creator of fantasy worlds and grand romances. But I struggled through the two creative writing courses I took. I had trouble producing stories by the deadline and the vulnerability of sharing my ideas with others was terrifying. It made me doubt myself. I tried to grow out of the fantasy of being a fiction writer. I began to accept my fate as a writer only of very boring research papers.
Now I'm 18 years out of college. I've been working in occupational safety for the last ten, starting as a paralegal and somehow working my way into a job that involves more spreadsheets and numbers than words. For some time, I thought I'd grown out of my childish fantasy and accepted a world of corporate memo writing.
A funny thing happened, though, as I explored other creative pursuits. My old dream of writing a novel started creeping back into my thoughts. It became louder and louder until I couldn't ignore it any more.
I found that the lessons I'd learned from embracing my creative side had helped me grow back into my childish fantasy of being a writer.
What did you want to be when you were a child? Is there something that still pulls at you?
Did you try to grow out of a childish fantasy because someone told you you should, or because you were afraid it wasn't realistic? When did you start trying to leave those dreams behind?
I truly believe we can grow back into our childish fantasies. Sometimes life takes us away from them to learn the lessons we need to learn, or gain important skills. It's never too late to return to those dreams.