To Dream or Not to Dream…..

Recently, my husband and I attended a dinner, and one of the attendees I spoke with asked me about our journey to Oxford, my husband’s dissertation topic, and what he planned to do now that his PhD was finished.  I lumbered through her questions, desiring to give as little detail as possible, while still being polite. She then looked at me and said, “What are your dreams?”

Admittedly, I froze when this question was presented to me, especially coming from a complete stranger. However, she is one of several people who have asked me that question in the past few months. I have been grappling with that particular question for the better part of the last 6 years but it surely gave me reason to pause: What was I created to do, exactly? Or better yet, am I already doing it? And, what does ‘it’ look like in this graduate wife season of life?

As I think back on my own journey of the last eight years, those questions have become more difficult to answer. If you’re like me, sometimes you might find yourself lost as your spouse’s personal assistant, doing laundry, housework, working a job to pay the bills, caring for children, etc. until you have no idea who you are or how you even arrived there. You might find yourself thinking, “I know she’s in there somewhere, but where is she? What happened to her desires, goals, and dreams before this graduate journey?”

I am surrounded by beautiful, clever, thoughtful women who have made abundant sacrifices to allow their other halves to pursue a dream. I am inspired by their ability to keep moving their own dreams forward even if for right now, it is in the smallest of increments. I love when we hover together over candlelit dinners and drinks, those dreams are spoken of in rich, present, endearing terms, like old friends coming for a visit. I love that in the midst of transitions, these women are finding their place in their cities, homes, marriages, family, jobs.

On the days where I lament some of my dreams being put on hold, I am reminded that the work I am doing now is very important, as it will play a part in helping me define and refine those dreams. When I start my daily commute, and spend long hours in the office, it puts things into perspective. I’m not working just to support my husband’s dream. I’m working to support ‘our’ dream.

My friend, Julia, who has put one of her dreams on hold at the moment, phrased it so eloquently below:

I’ve come, however, to understand that waiting to pursue one’s dreams doesn’t have to mean that they diminish, ‘dry up’ or even ‘explode’ as Langston Hughes famously penned. Rather, the waiting has refined my goal, changed its direction and enriched its beauty. The dream deferred can turn into an aging wine rather than a raisin in the sun. And in this space of waiting, I’ve seen other aspirations blossom and flourish: having children and starting a family, establishing traditions of our own, getting to know another culture.

So what was my answer to the question posed by my dinner partner? I told her that I love helping people. I want people to know that I love them, but that God loves them even more. Although I love being an administrator, having a life long career in administration does not interest me. I want more children. I’m learning that I really like to write, and I want to develop that to see where it might go. I am passionate about this blog, and I love the women that I’ve connected with in this season of life. I want to continue to support my husband on this incredible journey that our family is on, and more than anything, I want us to be successful at it. I know he could do it without us, but I like to think that because we are here with him, he’s better at it.

It was probably more of an answer than she was looking for, but nonetheless, my answer. As I walked home thinking about our conversation, I realized that in a way, I am living my dreams, although they look a lot different than I thought they would at this stage of my life. Yes, there are still many of them unanswered, but when the time is right, those planted seeds will grow. All the experiences currently taking place in this season of life is part of that cultivation.

So, maybe I’ll issue a challenge today – What are YOUR dreams? Are you living them? Or have you let them go? How will you cultivate them during this graduate season of life? Don’t stop dreaming!

-Mandy

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6 thoughts on “To Dream or Not to Dream…..

  1. Mandy, thanks so much for sharing these wonderful thoughts! I can relate to so much of what you shared. I also loved Julia’s analogy of the grape and our dreams being fermented and aged into something richer and stronger with time, rather than having them dried up and shriveled away. I think that women reading this who are the grad students themselves and are in some sense getting to follow their dreams of school, can probably still relate in that they have had to make sacrifices to go to grad school for this current season and some of their other dreams might have to be left fermenting or ‘on hold’ as well. It applies to so many of us! Thank you!

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