I remember the first time I aspired to be a serious writer: it was when I was beginning my journey to full-time life and work in China.
I was at a training in California, getting ready to leave for Beijing in a few short days where we would have another month of cultural training. I had started to journal about the entire process of working with this organization. I had explored how I was feeling, what was going on in my mind, the sub-culture behind being in this type of work (i.e. wearing chaco's, playing the guitar, journalling an hour everyday, and speaking a foreign language). My rough draft was taking shape everyday underneath my diligent fingertips. I had a dream; I was ambitious and hopeful.
And then, I shared this dream with one of the staff who was there to help equip us for our work in China. Our conversation went something like this:
"I've been doing some writing recently about the emotions and experience of going through this process with this organization. I'm hoping at the end of my time to publish my work in a kind of collective journal experience so it can help others who might go with this organization."
"Oh Portia, that's a neat idea, but unfortunately, this organization is pretty strict on sharing too much information for safety and security issues. It's not likely to happen."
I felt crushed, shut-down, and misunderstood. I had been smashed like a pumpkin on Halloween night. My dream was like a bird that didn't even have a chance to leave the nest before getting its wings clipped off.
I don't write this to point fingers at that individual. She was just doing and saying what she had probably been taught in her training. I write this to remind myself to be careful about who I share dreams with. I write this to remind myself not to be a Dream Crusher to some other ambitious dreamer who might need an encouraging, inspiring word instead of a calculating, rationally driven response.
And now, here I am. Five years later and further than ever from my dream of being a "serious writer." And sometimes I still have ambitious dreams that come in waves, but then I get scared and the dream feels too big, and I shut them out and tell myself to just embrace a normal life.
I smash my own pumpkins now.