Wide Awake and Dreaming

I said I wasn’t going to do it.

It’s almost midnight (not that late, compared to former college standards of a “late night”) but late enough for someone who has been up for the past 16 hours, working and is in the middle of tech week with tired cast and crew alike. I am tired. I should shut the computer off, turn out the light, and crawl into bed. And if I did that, I probably would be out rather quickly. Two minutes flat.

But. As a writer, one cannot just “sleep.”

Inspiration hits at the most inopportune times. In the car, along a scenic drive, without any hope for pulling over to jot ideas down in a non existent notebook. In the shower, where a pen could be dangerous and paper would just get soggy. And of course, right before bed time. Usually when one is already snuggled under the covers, feet, legs, arms in just the right spot-and then THE IDEA hits.

Fortunately, I caught the inspiration before that moment, and fought the urge to ignore it and instead…I wrote.

I’m not entirely sure even what I wanted to write, but I just knew I had to. Thoughts and theories and ideas were swirling around in my mind, and my brain was getting so overloaded it needed to simply release the words and phrases somehow. My thoughts were ranging everywhere from fear and panic, to passion and fiery love for life. From dreams and aspirations to “I should have eaten something before rehearsal. That grilled cheese from lunch is just not cutting it.”

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you would have noticed a sudden series of status updates regarding this show I am in (I apologize for the persistent spam, after next week I promise, I will be a ghost on your news feed, save for the random 80s’ movie references and sharing other people’s funny internet memes), a show that oddly is fitting in with my life better than any other show has in the past.

The show is an original piece, by my dear friend. She is an aspiring playwright, much like the main leading lady in the show. On the surface, the show appears to be about a lovable yet tiring young woman that fantasizes about a British actor and has imaginary conversations with him between bouts of writer’s block and drinking. But the show is so much more than that. The show is, at its core, about a young woman scared to face the cold, steely feel of reality and adulthood.

Something I’m really resonating with right now.

And not just because I am a writer. But because I am a young woman, with no idea where she is headed. I’ve been out of college for a year now, have applied to over a hundred jobs (I’m underestimating), have submitted resumes countless times, have been hopefully interviewed a small handful times, achieved second interview status once…just to go back to square one: in front of my mother’s laptop, staring at Craigslist and Big Shoes Network, wondering what job posting to click on next.

And it’s not just about where my career (or rather, my eternal quest for the much demanded “experience”) is headed. It’s everything.

It’s the friendships that ebb and flow with each passing season. It’s the ever adapting relationship between my parents and aging grandparents. It’s the constant creeping reminder of loans, bills, and other financial burdens piling up. It’s the wanderlust, it’s the thirst for adventure. It’s the window shopping at wedding gowns while at work wondering if I’ll ever be ready. It’s the endearing child with the infectious laugh that causes me to wonder if that is what is missing. It’s the knowledge of big immense dreams, forced to live in an itty bitty living space momentarily.

Don’t get me wrong-I am actually a very content person. Honestly, I don’t need the latest gadgets, the high end designer clothes, or even a two story house with a picket fence and the American dream.

One might read through this little post and scoff at my claim of being content, but I state that I am content because being content and settling are two different things in my mind.

I don’t want to settle. And settle doesn’t mean get married, have kids, buy the house, and live happily ever after. At least not in this case.

When I say settle, I mean, giving up.

Too often people just give up. “Life” gets in the way, and they give up their career dreams because they need to pay off their loans. Then they get married, and give up on their dream wedding because they are trying to save for that exotic vacation to Thailand on their third anniversary. But instead they wind up having kids, and that money goes to a house and other sensible things, like repairs and the mortgage and the kids’ college fund, promising each other you’ll go for your 60th birthdays instead. And before you know it, while your life might be happy and fulfilling and enriching, with love and family surrounding you at every corner…you gave up on your dreams.

Maybe I’m just young and naive and all my friends out there that are working jobs they don’t love, married with children in a house that is causing them headaches in maintenance costs are shaking their heads at me because I don’t get it. That’s very possible. Maybe I’m just a silly dreamer and in a  few years I’ll finally catch up to them and look back at this and go “You should have just gone to bed like your internal clock was telling you.”

But until then, I don’t want to give up. I want to give my dreams a chance. Even if they don’t come true. Even if I technically fail.

Because then, at the very least, I can continue through life knowing I tried.

Sometimes trying is half the battle.

dan cliff try