Stutzman: Stop sleeping around on yourself

It’s a shame really, so many talented, caring, people living a lie. Every night they sneak away to something they find more appealing, something more exciting, something they pretend doesn’t exist during the daytime.

Like a siren’s call they are lured to the outer reaches of their imagination; the green meadow where the sun always seems to be shining and the flowers never die. A place that could never exist in reality; or could it?

Hundreds of upstanding, responsible citizens across our community go to bed each night and sleep with their dreams. The dreams of what they would like to be when they grow up. The dreams of the kind of life they wish they were living. The dreams they’ve held since childhood but have never given themselves a chance to explore.

In the morning, they wake and carry on just like every other day. Most are seemingly happy and content with their lives. Most have no idea that they’ve been sleeping with dreams of another life. This isn’t to say that the lives we’re living are wrong, but begs the question, are we living the life we are meant to live? Is each of us using the talents and gifts we’ve been blessed with to add value to the world? If not, then why not?

It’s never too late to live the life of your dreams. My husband very recently decided to quit a job he has enjoyed for years. He liked the people he worked with and the environment he worked in. But he has dreams of his own he would like to see become a reality. Dreams he has visited in his sleep but never thought would become real.

So after a heart-to-heart discussion and leap of faith he took the first step to dedicate his time to making his dream come true. Leaving a workplace is often tough. It’s scary to venture out. The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. What if I can’t pay all the bills? What about my family? What if it doesn’t work? What if it is too hard?

What if you never take that first step and things never change and you live the rest of your life sleeping with another life in your dreams?

I once had someone ask me what my dream job would be. Without hesitation I said I want to write for National Geographic Magazine; have ever since I was a kid. The person then asked what I had done to move myself closer to that dream. I didn’t respond so quickly that time. Nothing. I had done nothing to move myself closer to that dream. He said my dream, no matter what it may be today or 10 years from now would always be just that, a dream.

I told him I wouldn’t even know where to start. He said how about with writing. He suggested I start writing about things that interest me. It was like a revelation. So simple. One small step, just start writing.

Since then I’ve partially written three books and countless essays. Don’t know that Nat’Geo will come knocking any time soon but along the way and throughout the process I discovered something more valuable. I discovered how much I love my hometown and I uncovered a way in which I could serve the community.

I started the Inspiring A-Town effort and this resulting column in my spare time, usually doing most of my writing late at night. The fulfillment I received from this volunteer crusade led me to apply for a job with the Convention & Visitors Bureau. A job I always knew I would enjoy but thought was outside of my reach. My position with the CVB allows me to share my passion for this community on a daily basis. It started with one small step. I had to stop sleeping with my dreams and make a decision to take the first step toward moving closer to them in the daylight.

Dreams come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Maybe your dream doesn’t pertain to a job but some other aspect of life. If you don’t know where to start there are a number of resources in the community that can help. With a few phone calls you can figure out your first step.

One thing is for sure, it will always stay just a dream that you visit when you sleep unless you take it out of your head and put one foot in front of the other. It’s time to stop sleeping around with your dreams and give them the respect they deserve. The world needs you and the positive difference you are meant to make.

Mary Beth Stutzman’s Inspiring A-Town runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Mary Beth on Twitter @mbstutz.