Reviving an Old Dream

Sometimes when I stop and look at the way life unfolds, I can’t help but notice how crazy it can be.  I’m experiencing something I didn’t ever anticipate with this career change.  Everything seems to be coming full circle, and…

I never saw it coming.

We can make plans and have dreams and hopes for our lives, but we never really know how things will turn out.  When I was in college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  The only thing I knew was that I enjoyed studying and speaking Spanish.  It really was the only thing I was sure that I loved, but I didn’t know how to make it into a career.  Instead of actually exploring a future using a skill I loved, I closed that door.  I felt I wasn’t cut out to teach, and I didn’t know what else I could do with it.

I was, somehow, so driven by choosing something that I thought would “get me somewhere,” that I ignored the only thing I enjoyed.

And it’s sort of hard for me to admit that.

It wasn’t until I decided that I was going to dental school (and I really did want that,) that I felt I could actually study what I wanted to study.  (Ugh, that’s so backwards.)  So I finally felt the freedom to choose to major in Spanish.  Once I felt secure in my career choice, I chose Spanish as my major because I loved it, and that’s what I wanted to spend my college days doing.  I felt a connection to it.  It was fun.  I, the person who always thought I was more of a math/science person and so bad at English in high school, was basically taking Spanish literature courses throughout college.  I remember writing 15-page papers in Spanish.  And while I wouldn’t say I loved doing that, I always felt accomplished that I could do it.

And guess what?  Spanish loved me too.

I was pleasantly surprised at graduation to receive a university award from the Spanish department.  Really?  Me?!?  I was never the person to win an award– ever!  That happened to other people; you know, the brainy people who worked really hard to be at the very very top of the class.  But this was real, and it never felt like a struggle to study Spanish.   I often forget about the Premio Clavileno (as it is called,) but it will always remain as one of my favorite accomplishments.  You know why?  Because despite any insecurities or doubts I had about what I was doing, I earned it, and it was confirmation that what I felt was real.

Spanish and I had a thing.  We were just good together.

After graduation, I chose to go live in Spain for a year.  I knew living there was something I had to do.  So the years passed, and I returned home, entered a career I ended up hating, and went on with my life.  But I always had one thing on my bucket list: someday I would live in a Spanish-speaking country again and really become fluent in Spanish.  I didn’t know how it would happen, but I was gonna do it.

And then things kept coming into my life to keep my connection with Spanish alive.  I met Nick, who also lived in Spain and loved Spanish.  We developed a habit of traveling to Mexico often, and even had our wedding in Playa del Carmen.  We have always loved the country– the people, the food, tequila, and of course, the language– and it’s a quick getaway for us.  And while the connections to the language kept showing up over the years, things kept happening to keep it out of my life.  Although I knew I wanted it to be part of my present and future, I got lazy.  I lost my ability, and now it’s much harder for me to use than it was, *gulp*, 17 years ago.  Over the years, I had no way to really immerse and practice, so I sort of gave up.  But here I am today, with perhaps one of the best surprises of this career journey.

My off-again on-again relationship with Spanish is on again.

I’m not moving abroad, and I honestly have no real desire to do that right now.  I like the way things are.  But my new business has brought Spanish back into my life in exactly the capacity I had always hoped for but thought was impossible.  My company will soon be launching in Mexico as part of the initial stages of our global expansion.  Since I’ve known about the Mexico launch, I’ve been able to make new friends and use my Spanish to get to know people who share the same vision.  And now I see how that original plan that I never actually had the courage to make back in college is coming to fruition.  As I take notice of how this one leap out of my comfort zone has rekindled an old passion, I am reminded of something I always say: you never know how one door will open and lead you to another.  It’s amazing to see yet again how when you open your mind and your heart, the universe will conspire with you to bring you the things you have always wanted in life.

So with that, I challenge you to start to notice this in your own life, and share it here.  Did you ever abandon pursuing something that you really enjoyed?  Why?  What do really you love to do?  Do you have dreams of pursuing it someday?

32 thoughts on “Reviving an Old Dream

  1. This is eerily familiar to me, except not with Spanish but Japanese. As someone with a background in foreign language, I can definitely attest to the almost magical feeling of achievement and confidence you describe. I’m convinced that studying a new tongue, I mean truly studying and immersing yourself in it, opens new channels in the mind. No matter what else I do in life, language will be a part of it somehow. Maybe not center stage, but it will be there for sure.

    Thank you for reminding me of this challenge.

    1. Agreed. I love how you describe that– opening channels. It’s such a great challenge to immerse yourself in a language, and at the end of the day you feel like you’ve solved a puzzle. I have a feeling you’ll never let your Japanese go!

  2. until someone asked, ‘did you ever dream that one day you would be living in a place like this?’ i smiled and replied, ‘when i was about eleven, i dreamed of living in argentina and raising horses.. i haven’t quite made it there….’

    it’s taken fifty years to make it half way, so i’ll shoot for reaching argentina in another fifty years!

    congratulations, amiga!

    1. Your almost there! But who knows, maybe it wasn’t Argentina, but something that Argentina represented for you that you have found now in Ecuador. It doesn’t always manifest in a way that we once expected it to look, is it? Gracias, z!

  3. Similar journey: I started out as a zoology major, but kept taking lit & writing classes because that’s what I LOVE (but didn’t think I could USE)… By the time I graduated, my English credits added up to a whole extra bachelor’s degree–and that has opened unexpected (unplanned!–even for this Planner) doors ranging from teaching to editing to even supporting my family for a while by freelancing. “Travel-Writing,” anyone? Hell yeah! 🙂 I’m sort of learning to let go the death-grip I used to have on PLANS, and take note of those unexpected open doors. Congratulations on your new adventure!

    1. That’s awesome, Kana. To do enough to get another whole degree is impressive. I guess it just goes to show that if you love something, whether planned or not, you it will prevail in your life. I’m sure we somehow designed these outcomes, even if we didn’t realize it. Glad it worked out that way for you too. I think that will be oneo f my lifelong battles: letting go of all that planning!! Great to hear from you!

  4. My dreams has always Been to discover The world , learn languages , learn from cultures .Elbert hubbard once Said “As we grow better we meet better people” and I strongly agree , Nailed 41 countries so far and counting and had the chance to live both in Mexico and spain so I can truly relate to What u describing .We get What we want ,Its all about how bad we want it and if Its fear or laziness that is stopping us from sometimes reach our full potential is one of Lifes questions … We’ll Find a Way , we always do ….. Great blog ..Pressing follow 🙂

    1. Hi Simon, Those are great dreams. Sounds like you have truly lived and continue to do so! Where did you live in Spain and Mexico? Do you speak several languages?

      I agree with your comments. I think we attract what we are and what we focus on. Thanks for stopping in. Looking forward to checking out your blog!

      1. In Mexico I lived in Leon/guanajuato and Mexico city .. Also spent some time in Acapulco .. In spain , Barcelona wich I have a hate/love relationship with . I speak 4-5 languages (My french is very funny but I do understand most of it ) .life is a rollercoaster and most of it we’ll never understand but I do plan to get the most out of it . Thank u For Being u 🙂 you blog is fantastic

  5. This is such a great reminder to look back at those things that I once loved but abandoned for whatever reason. This is also inspiring me to get going on learning Spanish once again. I’ve always loved it, and I keep saying that I’ll be fluent one day, but have yet to get on with it – thanks for the lovely kick in the behind! 😀
    ~ Andrea ❤

      1. No, we don’t. We have some survival words/phrases down but we’re not necessarily interested in learning it. For the most part Koreans want to practice their English with us whenever we go out to eat, shop etc. So, it’s been easy to get away with the very little Korean we’ve acquired! 🙂
        ~ Andrea ❤

  6. Great to hear that “you and Spanish” came full circle with each other. I made a career decision at the start that was not aligned with my natural inclination. I was good at it, successful, etc. But in the end the effects of the split between nature and fabricated “success” became devastating, overpowering both. Since childhood I had a lingering sense of where I would be my best self. It never left me from the start. Now I’m there in a large way, but arrived the hard way, at great cost. I hope your sharing your story will inspire many others to look to the heart at least as much as the head in making career choices. Thanks for posting it.

    P.S.: A treat to see Zeebra here. (I’m aka The Balsamean, as she knows me.) Such a big small world.

    1. Thanks, dk! I’m amazed that you knew at such a young age! It took me years to figure it out, and sometimes I’m still not sure. 😉 I had the same experience. Curious to know what you did and what you were meant to do… maybe I’ll find it on your blog. I also hope that sharing this story will help inspire someone out there! So glad you know Zeebra. We have such a great blogging community!! It’s like walking into a bar where everyone knows your name. 😉

      1. Oops. I think I misled you. I wasn’t young when I found out that as an adult I had gone off my natural course learned in childhood. I stayed off course for decades.

        The original natural course was in some combination of writing, philosophy, and nature. I chose a safe, secure career (and for more personal reasons not for here) in 100% indoor high tech.

        The course correction came via illness and related early retirement, where writing is now a hobby (as it always was), and I’m learning that I never learned to be a good writer, but I get to do it all I want! (And dollar-wise, it’s an inexpensive hobby.)

        As for my biophilic inclinations, I have settled into a lifestyle and location immersed in forest that grants me endless opportunities to “live close to the ground.”

        In my original comment I left all this out for brevity, and because publicly sharing personal information too often engenders wildly erroneous opinions that people draw — especially people who think they know you — from things not said that they add to the story themselves.

        But you asked, and maybe this response will help to encourage someone — even just one — to go their own way, to work at finding it, instead of running to the life course that “the world” (or someone else) tells them they should go, or to the one they think is the most lucrative, or most secure. It doesn’t do the world any good to hurt yourself.

  7. Its been so nice to read your blog and realise that its not just me and dentistry. I managed 10 years in general practice, knowing all the time I hated it. I was trying to reach retirement and wishing away decades of my life! ha. I can laugh now but it wasn’t funny as I was trapped and worse still I was trapped by myself.
    I am a year on in to my post dentistry life. At times its not been easy but the cloud of unhappiness lifted and one thing remains resolute- I could never go back to dentistry. I only have to imagine myself in surgery doing a molar RCT or a difficult extraction to reassure myself that the right decision has been made.
    So, its on to phase two for me- Life after Dentistry. Looking for new careers is another challenge and trying to find something I would enjoy.
    I wish you all the success in your new business venture and thank you for sharing your experience.

    1. Hi Mark-
      So sorry for my late reply! I think your comment got lost in my comment notifications, and I just found it. Your story sounds a little similar to mine– 10 years and trapped! I also can’t imagine going back to dentistry. I have to say, I really don’t miss it at all. Maybe the community, but that’s it. Thanks for the well wishes. I’m curious. How were you able to leave, and what are you doing now? Is that your last stop, or what do you hope to do?

      1. Thanks for the reply. I managed to leave my work as I have a very supportive partner and no big commitments financially ie.. Children. Also I had always been interested in property and had bought 3 houses to rent while I worked as a dentist. (I can thank dentistry for some things!) anyway, with these houses rented out it has allowed me to have an income.
        As far as what I plan to do. That is a good question. I have renovated and sold for profit another 2 houses in the last year. Something I really enjoy if I can find the right house at the right price. However my back is not so good ( I can thank dentistry for that as well! Ha) so I need to rethink again…
        To be honest I had been thinking of what to do for years before I finally left dentistry and as I had no answer I kept going. But I was not happy and as I get older I realise that’s really important. Like I say, a year has passed and I don’t have all the answers yet but I think it will come with time.
        It’s been a great help for me to read your blog as I felt you had faced a similar situation to myself and your attitude is inspiring.

  8. I love your blog. I think you remind me of myself. I’m 77, yet my wife tells me I’m trying to decide what I wish to do when I grow up. I, too, have dentistry in my background, even though I never used that knowledge until I was 62 and doing mission work in third world countries where the need was great.

    1. Wow, Tom. You sound like you have such an interesting story! I love how you have kept your life so varied. We have to talk– I’m curious about the dentistry thing, and I am thinking it would be great for you to write a guest post on my blog… if you’re open to it, of course!

        1. I am working on some stuff, but I haven’t blogged in a while. Thanks for the reminder… have to get back to it! I’ll reach out soon– definitely would love for you to write a guest post!

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