I’ve always called myself a dreamer.
That’s what I’ve always felt, and believed myself, to be. Yet I’ve hit a couple of occurrences lately where I’ve found that to be less true and that I am, in fact, can be more of a realist.
So, you know when you have those bad days at work and then you immediately go searching for another job, even when you have no (real) intention to quit (maybe)? My boyfriend had one of those days and sent me a job that he was super excited about, working with robots. Something I could totally see him doing and being happy doing. But the job was in Boston and we live in Kansas.
Before I tell you how this bit ends, let me paint a parallel for you.
The other day, there was a posting for an Editorial Assistant position, working with science fiction and fantasy publications (my dream job, basically, aside from writing full-time). I sent it to my boyfriend, freaking out and quite possibly considering applying, before I thought to look at the location. It’s in London. We still live in Kansas.
Now, here is how my boyfriend responded: with empathy and excitement, he told me to apply. He knew how much that job would mean to me and knew how badly I wanted to work in a position like that. It was so sweet and I felt supported.
Here is how I responded to him: freaking about about the fact that it was in Boston, we have no money saved up to move halfway across the country, would he want me to move there with him, would he expect us to do long distance, where would I work, what would I do, money money money, panic panic panic.
I didn’t ask, at the time, but I doubt he felt supported by me in that moment.
I didn’t realize how crushing my respond had been until we had a reverse situation and I saw how he responded. Even later, after we talked about it and we knew it really wasn’t realistically possible for us to just hop over to London if I actually landed that job, he didn’t crush it right away. Instead, he supported my enthusiasm and made the personal decision that, if there was actually headway on that position, we’d discuss our options on how to make it a reality or if the price of making it a reality was too high for us to pay and I’d have to decline it. Me, on the other hand, went straight to freaking out about all the impossible logistics we’d have to overcome, instead of encouraging him to chase this opportunity that got him excited.
Though he tells me not to, I still feel ridiculously horrible about this.
It’s happened a couple other times, too, where instead of being supportive and looking for solutions to work around a problem that is preventing an opportunity, I point out all the possible roadblocks and immediately panic. I’ve noticed that this “realist first” kind of thinking usually only happens when money is involved. Money could be considered, easily, the bane of my existence. It stresses me out almost more than anything else and yet I have strong budgeting skills and a (un)healthy frugal way of spending.
I don’t like this approach.
I do think it’s important to be realistic about things. Just because I want to write full-time doesn’t mean I can simply quit my day job and start doing that and be okay. I have bills to pay and a part of my soul to reclaim still from student loans (only nine more years…) But I also think it is so, so, so important to chase after those dreams and opportunities, even if the realistic choice would be to do the opposite. Sure, if he got the job in Boston, we’d have a lot to consider and a lot to work through. But together, we could have done it. It was feasible and not as impossible as my realistic, overthinking brain first panicked it out to be.
I guess I’m just realizing that I’m not just the hardcore dreamer I’ve always thought I was. I’m more realistic than I ever considered myself to be. A little bit of both, if you will. And that’s not a bad thing. Honestly, that’s probably a good thing. But, like so many other aspects of my life, it requires a certain balance to get it right.
Balancing is not easy, friends. It’s something I think I’ll always navigate through, never perfect, never master. But realizing that need for improvement is a pretty good first step.