The Hardest Part

One of the hardest things I ever had to do was let go, fully and finally, of my dream of becoming a medical doctor.

Most of my life through high school, and even to my one semester disaster through college, that specific goal served as beacon and guide. As a child, doctors landed high on my list of heroes because my doctor, a man I loved and respected right down to recognizing his scent, saved my life not once, not twice, but four times when everyone — including other doctors — told my parents to give up hope and contact clergy.

Before I turned five I’d received the Sacrament of the Sick (that’s what Catholics do to dying sick people so they maybe possibly hopefully go to someplace other than hell) four times. Most Catholics won’t receive it once, frankly. But hey, I’m not Catholic anymore so I guess it didn’t work.

Ahem. Back to the topic.

When I dropped out of college and had my life subsequently fall into ruination for myriad and stupid reasons for the next two years, I didn’t realize the decision’s ramifications would have echoes and ripple effect throughout my adult life. To this day I feel the effect of that one, teenaged decision which I shouldn’t have made. The one mistake which set me back more than I could imagine still has impact on me today.

Now, I’m not really sorry I let that dream go. In the end I found out I was barking up the wrong tree anyway. I don’t have the right heart to be a physician. But I’d make one devastatingly effective research scientist… or litigator. Tha’ts another story fueled by a former high school friend who got a degree in psychology from Stanford University and ended up a paralegal… and is now a lawyer.

But as bad as it seems, and believe me over the last eight years it has seemed very, very bad indeed, there are bright spots. If I’d gone the way I thought I’d go, I likely wouldn’t have met my wife. And without her, my children wouldn’t exist. And without them — life is unbearably empty, even if I didn’t know it then. Another woman? other children, loved just as much? Perhaps, in an alternate timeline. But would that woman have been the perfect mate, the perfect partner, my wife is for me today? I doubt it. When I left college, a chain of events led me to this spot on my life’s map. It’s hard to know if the other paths even existed, but I tend to believe they didn’t. Nothing pre-ordained my life to turn out this way, but the choices I made aren’t able to be altered and this destination was inevitable.

When I woke up that day and realized I couldn’t, realistically, ever become a doctor of medicine, I had to let that dream go. And something inside me, something tiny and shining bright and vibrant, had to be snuffed out. Something I carried inside me since I was five years old or so finally and completely died. It was terribly painful, but my life did go on.

I’ve had a lot of “dreams” since then, but I don’t cling to them as I did that first one. I have bigger fish to fry now, and dreaming — while essential to our existence as human beings, in my view — isn’t the primary focus or purpose anymore. Helping my kids fulfill theirs is now. I have many of my own which are on the verge of being fulfilled, but perhaps I don’t have a grand, over-arching dream for my life anymore. Perhaps I’ve set that aside to let the Lord deliver it, because His entry to my life made everything different. Everything.

But letting go of dreams is never easy. Never. It’s one of the hardest things we have to do, I think.

How about you? Is there something you dream of, or did dream of, which has to be released? or has been released? How did you cope/are you coping/will you cope?

God bless and have a great weekend, all.


Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All Rights Reserved


8 thoughts on “The Hardest Part

  1. I hear you man. My big dream was writing for a living… having a kid made me realize it was time to put on my big boy pants and get a real job.

    Well, I don’t know if that’s a dream you have to give up on, Al. It may not be getting paid to write what YOU want to write, but I don’t know if you have to give up on it. Besides, have you even LOOKED at publishing on Kindle or similar? You need to explore those options if you still want that dream.


    Leaves a bad taste in my mouth too, even though I really like my job.

    But I still do my writing and on the weekends I don’t wear big boy pants… just assless chaps.

    I just sit around in my underwear and pretend it’s a diaper.

  2. I worked as a Pharmacy Tech in a hospital for 14yrs and really wanted to become a Pharmacist but life as in husband, two kids, making ends meet and Pharmacy school being in another part of the state shot that all to hell. Tried having both Hubby and me going to school at the same time and working full time and something had to give and my going to school went down the drain in favor of motherhood and gainful employment. Filed under the woulda’/coulda’/shoulda’ file.

    At least none of your reasons were terrible mistakes, Delaney! But the end result is sort of the same, I guess. Unfulfilled dreamers. πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend.

  3. Letting go of my dreams is never easy. Mine now is to write as often as I can, and I’m doing the best I can to fulfill it.

    Here’s to your dream coming true!

  4. Well I’m that stage where I haven’t really had to give up a dream–other than to be a vet because I’m allergic to almost every pet animal imaginable. It’s terrible. But I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 12, have a husband who wants me to pursue that for as long as I can until life forces me to grow up and get a job. That I’m grateful for.

    I would be too, if I were you. Interestingly, my spouse wants me to pursue it as hard as I can too. I still have to have a grown-up job, though. πŸ˜‰

  5. Wow, that’s intense. You’re lucky you had such a great doctor.

    It’s weird you post this… the other night I was speaking with my ex, and he just graduated university, and is officially a teacher, ready to substitute, and be hired. We planned on going to the same university to become teachers.

    I think in past lives I’ve had many careers… teacher, pharmacist, registered nurse… or maybe that just makes it feel better… Growing up, I never saw myself at 25 having been with a man for five years, and just having my first child, and still working retail – selling video games no less.

    I’ve been reminded since graduating high school that “you never lived up to your potential”. I started hearing it when I was 18, because I didn’t go to university right away. This girl who lived around the corner from me, her Mom ran into me in town once and said “isn’t it funny my daughter is off in university, and you’re still here in town working at the drug store?” No one expected her to go to university. I became a pharmacy technician at 19, and would run into my old friends parents, and they would say “oh, you’re still here?” And I went to college for graphic design, and sure, it sounded flashy to people, but I did nothing with it, and dropped out in my second year, and that gave everyone another thing to point out “omg, you haven’t lived up to your potential, you don’t have a career, you’re still at the drug store, AND you’re a college drop out?” I was a pretty impressive student in high school I guess.

    It’s hard to let go of what you used to so strongly wish you could be. And for the last 5 years, I have thought about going back to school, and even figured after we had kids, we’d wait until they were in school, then I would go back to college, but it won’t happen. The RN program is 4 years and in another town, to be a teacher, it would be 4 years in another town, then 2 years in the city, or 1 year in New Brunswick, pharmacy could be 6 years if you don’t get accepted into the pharmacy program after first year.

    I bring this up with Matt sometimes… but it’s one thing he doesn’t relate to with me, or really understand… this idea of not having lived up to your potential. Yeah, he wanted to be a police officer, but he loves being a meat cutter, but he lucked into that job 10 years ago. He started out as a clean up boy, and they trained him to cut. He said he never would have gone to college for anything, because as he puts it “some guys are cut out for grunt work, not schooling”. I am jealous of how much he loves what he does for a living.

    Having a baby has changed everything. I don’t even know if I’ll be going back to work in the new year, I think the SAHM gig makes more sense for us, and I don’t think I would be happy going back to some part-time retail job, basically working for day-care and gas. However, I do think, if I had a career prior, I don’t know how keen I would have been about having a baby at this age. I have friends who have stellar careers, and the thought of having a baby is always on the back burner because they’re too involved in work to consider slowing down.

    I think I would have been a great teacher, or nurse. I really do. I feel like I sound totally ungrateful, and like I regret everything, but I don’t, just hard not to feel down about it when it’s been pointed out so many times over the years.

    But I am excited to watch Cain grow, and to see what he fancies, and what he’ll dream to be and what he will become. We have started an education fund (loose title) for him so he will have the freedom to do whatever he wishes when the time comes, and if he wants to travel the world instead, then he will have that option and freedom that Matt and I never had.

    The stories are so similar, aren’t they? Unfulfilled dreams and unfulfilled potential. Is there a difference? I wonder sometimes about walking that path not taken, but you know what? This is where I am and this is what I have to live. Life is now, it’s not what you planned and it’s not what you didn’t do, it’s what’s happening right now, this moment, and I’m going to live in that as much as I can because tomorrow may include a heartbeat I reach for and isn’t there, or may not ever come at all for me, and what will it serve for me to sit here waiting for someday? Or pining for when? No, it’s now, and I have to learn to embrace that. I hope to learn a lesson from the immediacy of my children and embrace their love of the moment.

  6. i dont know what made me read this but im glad i did! I too had a dream that bcz of others i couldn’t fufill, but as hard as it could be, life had to go on! if i get a chance to fufill this dream after 10 years I will! it may have left my first thoughts but sure live in me!
    your story is touching and again glad to have read it!

    Hey, I’m glad you came by WA. And I’m glad the story meant something to you. Good luck making your dreams come true, and please, feel free to stop back anytime and God bless.

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