The Power of Dreaming

Betsy - Champaign, Illinois
Entered on October 16, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in dreaming. The kind of dreaming I do while awake. The kind I do to imagine who I can become.

I’ve often heard the phrases “follow your dreams” and “dream big.” But these aphorisms don’t tell us how to do it, just that we should.

I didn’t realize how much I used to daydream until recently when it dawned on me that I had no vision of my future to pursue. What had happened? When did I stop evoking my next dream? So I set about remembering how to do it.

When I was a teen I spent untold hours lying on my bed listening to music, letting my mind wander to possibilities of what my life would be like. Sure, there were fantasies mixed in but I also envisioned myself as the successful adult I’d become.

As the years passed, it seemed I was always developing a new picture of myself. This led me into a variety of careers: theatre director, owner of a pet sitting service, interior decorator, educator….

In my mid thirties, I dreamt of spending a month backpacking alone through Thailand. Six months later, on a restaurant server’s income, I’d saved enough money for both the trip and to be without an income for that month. It was a great lesson in the power of dreaming.

So how was it that ten years later I’d forgotten the importance of dreaming? This past year I realized that I had achieved all of the major life goals I’d conjured up. I was drifting. Nothing was driving me.

If my health holds out and I don’t get hit by a bus, I can easily live another 45 years. It’s much too early to stop dreaming.

So I’ve started to allow myself little periods of time when I can sit back – undistracted by work, TV, email, radio, loved ones, the internet, and even my own busy mind – to simply let my thoughts meander and drift where they will. I ask myself – what do I want to do with my life?

This return to dreaming has brought with it a renewed optimism. I still have much to accomplish, and am a long way from being who I want to be. And I believe the only way I can figure who I am is by dreaming it.