A child is conceived and a dream is born. It isn’t fully fleshed out, but the seed is planted. Parents-to-be think about the parents the ways life will change, the parents they want to become and speculate on the life they may bring into the world. They may reject the responsibility and decide to defer the dream to a later date. This might be a decision that is reached individually, as a couple or a result of other external influences.
That dream doesn’t die. It may become a random day dream, a personal anniversary of a choice that could have had a different outcome or a commitment to be ready the next time. While it doesn’t come to fruition, it doesn’t disappear.
For those who press forward because of or despite circumstances that seem to foreshadow the work that is to come, that dream continues to grow. It grows from an idea to a being that impacts hunger, thirst, emotions and breast size. It is pictured on an ultrasound, responds to certain songs, foods and voices. It may change eating, drinking and fitness habits. It may cultivate support, indifference or a love beyond one that the parents have ever known, but the seed is planted and continues to grow no matter the soil.
Finally, the child is born. The dreams are stronger now, because the possibility has become a reality. Parents teach their children what to do and what not to do based on social propriety, their values and beliefs and their fears. Discipline is handed out or deferred due to the parent’s own past traumas and what they feel “is the right thing to do”. Parents begin to shape a path and continue to shape a path for the child, sometimes without realizing the path asks the child to conform to what they believe he or she should be rather than cultivating the child’s own beliefs, talents or truths. While it is not necessarily ill-intentioned, the harm can come from the child deciding -whether by choice or perceived lack thereof- that it is easier to strive to realize the dream that has been in motion since before they were born than to fight against it and risk disappointment, estrangement, or failure in chasing a dream of their own choosing. Besides, it is also true that while some parents can, will, and do finance the dreams they have for their children, that support can be absent in the face of perceived insolence or lack of gratitude.
As a result, some people reach adulthood without being able to share or be themselves fully or completely. They do what they are “supposed to do” instead of doing what they are called to do. They watch others live lives -whether they are what others would call successful or not- of their own choosing and marvel at the freedom to chose to love, live and be authentically. They write to-do lists they never plan to complete. They live one life in public and one life behind closed doors. They self-medicate through drugs and alcohol at happy hours, parties and home alone. They go through the motions, accomplish without any real fulfillment and check off boxes that don’t spark joie de vivre but may inspire public or private conversations about how well they are doing when wellness is not an adjective they would pick to describe their state of being.
Then it happens. Maybe it is a conversation they have or are party to. Maybe it is seeing a crystal. Maybe it is losing a job.Maybe it being sick and tired of being sick and tired. The world shifts to allow the person an opportunity to start to LIVE, on his or her own terms, and they are both ready and willing to take it. Maybe it starts as a haircut, a career change or meeting a person whose interactions make them feel like a self they have never known and would like to get to know. The fear of not missing out on getting to know this version of self outweighs the fear of life-disruption and adolescence begins anew as they explore this feeling.
On the other side is the authentic self.