What Happened to Our Childhood Dreams?

© Lasse Behnke

I remember being a little kid, having just started taking piano lessons. I proclaimed then I wanted to be a “professional piano player.” As I grew older, my dreams became more refined and I set my sights on being in a successful band. I’m getting closer to accomplishing that goal, but I’m 18 years old and have written two songs. Two songs in 18 years. For me, it’s hard to read that sentence. I play guitar every day, 365 days a year. It’s my passion far above anything else. Yet I have two songs to my name. That’s a depressing realization.

We don’t recognize time as it’s moving but it can be like a racehorse when we don’t pay attention. I don’t remember much of my freshman year in high school. It was good enough being in high school, but there are no great memories from that year. Nothing really significant happened. That seems so long ago when I think about it, but when I realize I’ll be 19 in a few months, I wonder how I’ve come to be this old. We forget the intricacies of earlier times. We don’t always remember how our stories intertwine with others. People tell me, “Don’t worry, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you to accomplish your goals.” In reality, we don’t know how long that is. We assume it’s 70 or 80 years old because that’s how long most of our friends and relatives live. We can’t guarantee that, so we have to act now! But we also can’t forget to enjoy ourselves.

I feel disappointed in myself for not living up to my own expectations until I remember that for the past seven years I’ve played guitar, I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. At the end of my life, I don’t want to look back at my young years, feeling bitter, and say, “Nick, you wasted your time, your talents, your youth!” I don’t think I’ve wasted anything. I do what I love every day and I enjoy it. But I also don’t want to look back and wish that I had allowed myself to live a little. I’m working more towards my goals today than I ever have before. I tell myself that I’m a creative wonder, that song ideas and melodies are seeping out of my pores, I just have to choose what to take. Most importantly, I enjoy the process now. I don’t stress out about writing those 6 songs for my EP. I know I’ll finish them. Creativity doesn’t run on time. It runs when I do.

I don’t want my whole life (or any aspect of my life, for that matter) to be like freshman year of high school — just good enough, but not great because nothing special happened. It’s so easy to be idealistic and naive when you’re young, but that’s also why young people have such a great power. I still don’t believe in limitations or being just good enough. I want to make my life like an extended senior year, relishing the timeless memories and accomplishments of long-held goals. Eventually, I’ll be able to look back and say I had the time of my life.

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