Of all my childhood dreams that I can recall, being unemployed a month after turning 50 wasn’t one of them.
I don’t remember ever having considered what life would be like at that ancient age when I was a child, and to be fair, I don’t think I knew what redundancy was or that you could even lose a job.
I wasn’t a child who had a lifelong dream. I didn’t wake up at the age of four and announce to the world that I was going to be a nurse or save the world.
I did, however, wake up sometime around the age of four to be told I was “specially chosen” and this did change whatever dreams I think I’d had up to that point.
Being specially chosen translates as being adopted. The age of four seemed to be considered the right age in order to grow up with that information without finding it too confronting—at least I think that was the idea. And it did make me feel special, if a little picked off the shelf. What then conflicted with me, from about the age of seven or so, was my mother telling me that we weren’t to tell other people. I couldn’t compute if we were so special, why we had to keep it a secret.
From about the age of 10 or 11, it started to play a part in my dreams and aspirations. Whereas prior I may well have wanted to be a nurse like my mother, now I could imagine that my biological mother might have been something far more alluring and maybe I could be that. It began with she was Marilyn Monroe, despite having come from the North of England. Then it became that she was “just an actress,” and so I would be too. At some point, this morphed into: she was a writer.
And I did follow those dreams. But looking back, I’m not sure with how much conviction. I went to drama school. I wrote a play. And then I got pregnant. And there endeth those dreams.
The alternative reality that accompanied being “specially chosen,” allowed me to embrace my imagination as to what could have been. Every teenage angst or disagreement with my parents would never have happened if I had been theirs biologically. I was the great unloved. Everyone would leave me eventually.
I was a cliché, not cool.
And so I accepted that I was incredibly lucky to have the life I had, the parents who loved me, the education I’d been gifted. And I got on with life and family and jobs, although never really a consistent career.
So when I think about my dreams today, have they really changed that much? My dream job is to write, and I am vaguely in the process of doing that. My definition of success would probably be to be fulfilled, and in my current family life I am, if not in work. There were other childhood dreams, of course: to be rich, to be happily married, to be happy—full stop. I now know that richness is not monetary, happy marriages fluctuate, and being happy is a choice.
And so is it possible, that now that I am 50 and without work, I revisit those dreams. I recognise that we are all specially chosen and wonderfully unique. If we have a dream that will not die, can we do more than revisit it? Can we reawaken it? Is it ever too late, or more than that, have we been waiting our entire life for the time to be right and this is that time?
If we are rich in love and have a home and food, does that actually now clear the way to focus, finally, on making the dream a reality?