16

I turned 16 at the beginning of my junior year in high school. I think of this as a year when a lot of things shifted for me. I found out there were so many things that just didn’t matter. For one, what other people thought of me. (I realized it back then but actually believing it has taken decades.) For another, the whole “this boy or that boy that is sooooo cute and also incidentally doesn’t have the time of day for me” thing. (I still cared, but it just didn’t seem to matter as much.) The things that didn’t matter seemed to be part of the larger narrative of my life that I was now beginning to tell for myself. A narrative that most definitely included getting out of that small rural college town where I grew up and going, basically, anywhere else. That hometown being another thing that was just getting smaller and more insignificant every day.

I was thinking today about dreams, the dreams we have as kids and what happens to them as we get older. It’s not so much the growing older part as the growing number of experiences we have that affect the trajectory of dreams. We can point to people who supported our dreams, didn’t support our dreams, actively disparaged our dreams or slowly crushed them through negligence. Looking back we can trace these influences and place blame or appreciation at the feet of these monsters and champions (to borrow from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way). We can also look at ourselves and see how we allowed the monsters to pull us from our dreams.  Or were inspired to stick to them with even more tenacity. Or learned to not care what others think of us. It started at 16 and almost 30 years later I am still learning.

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