A Decade of Dreams Coming True

In an article in Time Magazine last week, Andy Serwer labeled the past ten years the "decade of broken dreams." What began with 9/11 and ended with an economic depression will go down in history as "the decade from hell." Serwer lists (in long-winded detail) every justification for this dour name, including his main argument. Most of us, he says, are worse off than we were when the clock struck midnight 10 years ago.

Ten years ago... wow.

Ten years ago I was a senior in high school, anxiously awaiting a stroke of midnight that would magically begin a new chapter in my life. I was the proud new owner of my very first cell phone, a clunky green Nokia that could knock someone unconscious if wielded correctly. I had returned the day before from my last national cheerleading competition, relieved to be home with no way of knowing how much I would miss the sport (and my body) years later.

Proud to be part of the first graduating class of the new millennium, I thought I was special. I think we all did. Like most high school seniors, I wanted... no, I needed that clock to strike midnight and start the year in which I would graduate and finally be an adult. I was so certain of my future and the path it would take me down and I was literally shaking with the need to get on with it.

All my problems would be solved once I had freedom... from my parents, from this town, from the ache inside me that told me I just didn't belong. I was tired of trying to be the girl everyone thought I should be, although I had no idea who I actually was underneath the pretense. I had just experienced my first Christmas after my parents' divorce, and although I can't recall it I must have been sad. Yet despite this, like most high school girls, I still believed in "happily ever after" and yearned for romance and true love. I was foolishly convinced that every boy I met was Mr. Right... and was heartbroken when he wasn't.

The year 2000 would be the starting point for every dream that I had. My body should have been physically vibrating with the pulse of possibility... and never before nor ever since have I been so alive with the anticipation of "what will be."

Ten years later here I am… back in the town from where I worked so hard to leave. I managed to find a semblance of the freedom that I sought, but like most things in life it didn't measure up to the hype I had built in my head. I no longer have that cheerleader's body, but instead traded it for a beautiful 2-year-old little girl. Only one vision managed to turn out exactly as I had dreamed: my husband Ryan is everything I hoped love would be.

Like ten years ago I am once again working to get out of this town. Not with a rabid desperation like before, but with the quiet persistence that comes from wanting a different life for my daughter. Unlike then I now have a much better grasp on who I am and what I believe, yet I still find myself trying to fit in. It's frustrating to continually catch myself trying to be the daughter, the granddaughter, the friend people think I should be, rather than the person that makes me proud.

I wish I knew what that 18-year-old girl resolved to do for the year 2000. Although I'd like to think it was something profound such as "spend more time volunteering" it was probably something silly and selfish like "lose 20 pounds" or out of her control like "find the man of my dreams." How often are the resolutions we make, in the big picture of life, silly, selfish or out of our control?

Like many people I am always quick to make resolutions and then quicker to give up on them. My OCD nature loves everything about resolutions, though: the fresh start to a fresh new year. Although I've made lifestyle changes before at various points throughout the year there's something compelling about starting anew on January 1.

Resolutions represent hope - knowing that we have within us the power to change our lives. Whether it's losing weight, cooking more, spending more quality time with our kids, or starting a family... For one brief moment the goal is a clear image in our mind and so tangible we can almost touch. It is this straight, narrow-minded focus that overtakes us and the power is like a drug... we CAN do this! And we do... for a week or so.

Instead of setting carved-in-stone feats that can easily be measured (usually in defeat) I came across a Winter Solstice ritual last week that takes a new approach to new year's resolutions. Although not as defined as traditional resolutions, Lorna Tedder (The Spiritual Eclectic) has created an amazingly simple concept. Instead of resolving to finally lose the weight, to write more, to take up yoga, join a book club, or blah, blah, blah...

… What if this New Year I welcome in more opportunities for personal expression and meditation? What if I say hello to more silliness and so long to so much seriousness? What if I open my heart to new friends and more simplicity in my life?

What if I say goodbye to people and actions that cause me heartache and give myself permission to accept things as they are?

Time Magazine calls the past ten years the "Decade of Broken Dreams" and I have certainly seen my fair share of them. Ten years ago I left this town to become a big-shot journalist and instead ended up a college drop-out. I went through a devastating break-up with the man I thought was the love of my life. I’ve lost four people that I love. I suffered through a sorority (where I sorely didn't belong) and said goodbye to my appendix, my religion, my Yellow Jeep and my beloved show Friends.

Looking at it from this angle, the decade definitely sucks! Nonetheless, I gained so much more than I lost! Working at Starbucks started a love affair with coffee. I gained new parents and siblings (in fact, my immediate family grew by 200%!) and a few more rockin’ family members through marriage! This decade brought me Facebook and blogging and How I Met Your Mother; one sweet tattoo, a few body piercings, and my all-time favorite song Drops of Jupiter in 2001.

A random part-time job in 2002 brought me face-to-face with the women I call my best friends. An embarrassing move back to my home town in 2005 led me straight into the apartment of my future husband. The death of my aunt directed me to a job about which I am passionate and an unplanned pregnancy gave me my perfect daughter.

Add in my first trip to New York City, a dozen or so different hairstyles, a fantastic Jimmy Buffett concert, learning to appreciate beer, and finally quitting smoking... and I've got a decade of dreams coming true.

These may not be the dreams I had in mind – but that doesn't make them any less spectacular. What did that 18-year-old girl know?

Ten years later I am creeping up on 30 (gasp!) and I wonder how so much has happened in such a short span of time. If I've learned anything at all, it's that the best things that have come out of the past 10 years (my friends, my husband, my daughter) have come from situations where I was truly me. Am I worse off than I was ten years ago? Hell, no! I've got true love, a family, amazing friends...everything that girl ever wanted.

Perhaps in 2010 and for the next decade, though, I add two more important items to my list of New Year's resolutions. Bid farewell to worrying about what others think of me and welcome in more chances to be true to myself.

With that, who knows what the next ten years will bring?

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