Growing up, I never would have considered myself someone who lived a necessarily charmed life. Half my childhood was spent sharing one bedroom with both my sisters because our family of five lived several years in a two bedroom apartment while my father personally built our future home with his own two hands. Our vacation each year wasn’t spent traveling to Europe or even to the Florida beaches. Financially, those were never an option. We rented a pop-up camper and drove four hours south every summer to a Christian music festival in Ohio. This doesn’t really sound like the all-American dream life, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
When it comes down to what really matters in life, I grew up richer than most of my peers because I was lucky enough to possess the non-material things many people aren’t lucky enough to have. I was raised by two loving parents who sacrificed more than I’ll ever know to ensure I ended up understanding that you have to actually be self-sufficient enough work for what you want and keep your moral compass pointed in the right direction in order to succeed in the real world.
I didn’t know it at the time, but every disappointment that came throughout my childhood from not instantly receiving something I wanted slowly transformed me into someone who always has a dream or a goal that I am personally working toward. And when I reach one, that feeling of accomplishment instantly outweighs any disappointment I may have faced when I didn’t receive it the second I desired it.
If we grow up with everything we ask for handed to us on a silver platter, how will we ever survive as an adult? We would have no drive to accomplish anything in the real world because we would always expect to instantly receive it. What fun would it be to have no celebrations for the big wins in life? I love a good reason to pop a bottle of champagne, so I honestly can’t imagine.
Once my childhood years of sleeping on the top bunk in a two bedroom apartment were over, I never knew I could appreciate a bedroom of my own so much. Our new house was like a fairy tale and my dad spent years creating it just the way he wanted to make it our perfect home. If he would have paid a bunch of money for someone else to build it in a few short months, he never would have experienced that unexplainable feeling of accomplishment when it was complete.
Sometimes I wish we took more exotic vacations when I was growing up, only because I want my parents to understand the permanent obsession I now have with traveling. But if we did, I wouldn’t be spending my adult years experiencing the unbelievable joy of visiting so many new places with my own hard earned money, exploring all different parts of the world for the very first time. I can appreciate every flight I board, every photo I take, and every memory that is made so much more when I experience it all this way.
Over the course of my adult life, I’ve changed my entire view of “living the dream” because you aren’t really living it until you first desire it for a long time, which then leads to putting in the effort to accomplish it. And that’s never easy. So go ahead and embrace the struggle because that’s how you learn to truly appreciate and celebrate the reward. And that’s what I call living the dream.
Special thanks to Graceann Belgiorno for the conversation that inspired this post.
You’re my favorite. And your future is the brightest.