I have a little dream-box on the nightstand next to my bed. It was a gift. The idea is to write down your dreams, put them in the box and they will seep into your every human fiber as you enjoy a lovely night of golden slumbers. Then when you wake up, you make that shit happen without even realizing it. Ok, I don’t know if that’s how it works but I thought it was a cool gift and I can do whatever I want.
I had 2 dreams in there. The first, “My student loan bill is $0.00.” The second was about my relationship, “Her and I – happy, together, indefinitely.” (I’d like to put it on record that admitting this is horribly embarrassing.)
The first dream came true and taught me a few valuable lessons about dreams and dream-boxes. Without adjustment, my monthly student loan payment is more than I actually earn. I realized this would be something of an issue and I called my student loan companies to get things figured out.
I was eventually informed that because I am a medical resident I can put off my loan payments until the residency is completed. I filled out some paperwork, signed some forms, faxed some stuff and I received a bill for $0.00. My dream came true.
This is great because I can buy groceries and live in a building now. It’s less great because the interest is still accumulating (which I intend to pay monthly) and I’m going to get slammed by huge payments the month after my residency ends.
Obviously, this taught me that dream-boxes totally work but, more importantly, I learned that details are paramount. I should’ve written, “My student loan BALANCE is $0.00.” That one made it’s way into the box posthaste, update pending.
The second dream didn’t come true. Not at all. It’s my fault, though, because clearly the dream-box is only powerful enough for a single dream at a time and the student loan one made it in there first. I got greedy.
I had no choice but to open the box and take my dream out. I unfolded it, re-read it, imagined the emotions I had while writing it, remembered feeling hopeful as I carefully folded it and placed it into the box. Then I took it into my hand, crumpled it up and threw it in the garbage.
It hurt. The relationship didn’t end because I fell out of love. When she first told me she didn’t want to be with me, my first thought was, “How did I mess this up?” My dream fell apart and I couldn’t find any flaw with her logic in wanting to end the relationship. It had to be something I did, something I messed up.
I thought a lot about it – too much, probably – and concluded that there’s absolutely nothing I could’ve done differently. There’s nothing I wish I could change. There’s nothing I regret. We simply wanted different things out of life and it would’ve made both of us unhappy if either of us compromised. It had to end. So it ended.
And here I am, left with a failed dream, crumpled up at the bottom of my garbage can. It was weighing heavily on me. I started exploring what it means to succeed and fail.
My exploration brought me back to my student loan dream. The frustration there was that I should’ve been more specific. Sure, my bill was $0.00 but my balance is still, like, $7 million – I don’t know, I’m too afraid to actually look at the total. I chalked it up to my not being specific enough. It wasn’t a failure, it was the wrong dream. I’m going to adjust it and move forward.
If I apply that same logic to the relationship dream, the opposite is true. It was too specific. “Her and I – together, happy, indefinitely,” really should’ve been, “Someone and I…” It wasn’t a failure, it was the wrong dream.
While success is usually easy to identify, failure is quite a bit more open to interpretation. It is not a failure to change my goals, make them more specific or more general, to move the target. When I’m faced with failure, I can simply make an adjustment and continue moving forward. Essentially, it is not a failure until I decide it is.
My relationship dream is currently, “Someone and I – together, happy, indefinitely.” It would’ve been great if it were her but it’s not and that’s fine. I’ll move forward without discouragement. I’ll continue changing and adjusting it as I need to but I’ll never view a failed relationship as a failure again.
That one’s not going into the dream-box, though. I’m sticking with one dream for now and it’s clearly written in entirely capital letters. “MY STUDENT LOAN BALANCE IS $0.00”