As I was writing this post, I was trying to come up with a suitable title for it, something to capture the essence of being an abuse survivor but still chasing after your dreams in life. Then it hit me, Go after your dreams, not your past. After all, one of the biggest truths you can embrace as a survivor on your healing journey, is that your past does not define you.
As a child, we’ve all had dreams of being this or that when we grow up. A fireman, and astronaut, a doctor, it’s likely that you wanted to be many different things when you were younger. I know I did. I can remember saying I wanted to be a police officer, I wanted to go into the Navy, I wanted to drive a bulldozer for a living, I wanted to be a marine biologist and work with Orcas and Sea Lions. There are probably a lot more that I can’t quite remember anymore.
As I went through school, and then graduated, life took on a different spin though. After working dozens of jobs as a young kid, and not really finding any type of calling, I decided that going into computers was the way to go. It was safe, it was a career that would always be growing and changing, and would offer some stability. Seemed pretty logical to me, so I did it. After all, it was ingrained in my head for as long as I can remember, “you have to grow up, get a good job, get benefits, and provide for your family”. “You don’t have to happy in your job, you just have to provide and be a good father and husband”. My parents, like many others of my generation, were very old school. Go put in your 40 hours and be stable, that’s all that matters.
So, that’s what I did. I went to a technical school, got a degree and started working in the computer field in the mid 90’s. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I’ve changed companies over the years, sure, but it’s always been in the computer field because “that’s what I do.”
For so long I’ve let life run me rather than me taking control of it. I was afraid to take a risk, and really put myself out there. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time, or I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, or it was a combination of both, but the reality is that I didn’t allow myself to truly chase after a dream of doing something I really loved. Being groomed, having that mentality beat into my head repeatedly of, “just get a good job and be stable”, hindered my creative spirit and my ability to chase after my dreams, while not even realizing it was happening.
When you really sit there and spell it out like that, another reason comes to mind for me. “My survivor junk” as I like to call it.
The grooming at the hands of the abuser to make me feel like I was not worthy of anything positive and that I would never amount to anything. The lack of self-confidence that grew over the
years of invalidation, and just a general mindset of not being capable or smart enough to do anything special in life. To not be who I really wanted to be.
Those are common feelings that we as survivors carry with us, because it was ingrained in our head over and over again, and let’s face it, old habits do indeed die-hard.
So why shouldn’t we chase after a dream? Why do we have to be the status quo, and do what our parents did…what our friends do…or what we think is expected of us?
The short answer is, We Don’t. We just think we do, often times, because we are afraid of change or afraid to take a risk. Fear of the unknown is a powerful force that can keep us stuck, as is fear of Success. We’re used to “just being” and not trying to reach our own potential, and that mindset becomes safe and familiar. So much so that again, we become stuck because we have no idea what feeling good is, what our own version of success could look like.
I mean what if we fail, then what? Is that a reason for us to stop reaching for a dream or a goal? It can be if we let it, because if we don’t succeed the way we think we should or the way that others think we should, we risk shaming ourselves and killing any bit of confidence and self-esteem we gained along the way.
Is your dream scary? Maybe so; whether it’s a huge, life changing dream or a stepping stone goal en-route to a bigger dream, it can be super scary. I just want to encourage you to not let expectations or a mindset of potential failure, derail you in reaching for what you want in life. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, or you aren’t worthy, or “why bother because you’ll just fail”.
Those are negative people, toxic people, and they have no business being in your life. Instead, surround yourself with people who believe in you, and share your vision! That may mean making some tough decisions about the people in your life, but aren’t you worth it?! Yes, you absolutely are worth it!
Don’t give up on yourself and never underestimate the power that you have to go after what you want in life.
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas.