Once upon a time…
Don’t we just love that? The feeling of slipping into a rose-colored daydream where the sounds of commercial printers and the smells your coworker’s interesting lunch are replaced with the sweet song of a hummingbird and the gentle breeze of the fall wind? I loved that so much, I committed time to escape to that place daily for several years of my life. Each day, I’d go deeper into this fantasy land in my mind where I scripted fanciful interactions with people who don’t exist. I’d create circumstances that were only minorly an irritant and that could be resolved with a handsome prince falling in love with a beautiful commoner (i.e. me). It was the end of my mini-novel I crafted in my mind. It was the beginning of a series of stories I never knew needed to be explored. Isn’t that the thing though? All our princess stories end in a happily ever after that we have never seen, for the most part. And just like those stories, my daydreams ended the same way. I didn’t know that there could be more.
Years later, I recognized the problem I developed after listening attentively at a youth conference. I’m sure they were talking about various other “taboo” ways to practice escapism like sex, drugs and rock & roll. Rather than disconnecting from the message, the Holy Spirit made sure I knew I was doing the same thing, but with different tools. My daydreaming became a crutch when I was overwhelmingly unhappy with my life – the lack of certain things, the overabundance of others. I was Brandy in Cinderella, thinking I could just live in my own little corner, in my own little chair. But I wasn’t. I was escaping the dealt cards I was given in life for moments or hours at a time, creating an unrealistic expectation of my life. I would come-to and realize that my expectation was unrealistic and then I’d escape again to a world where it wasn’t. Can we all see the cycle here?
Over time, I finally reached the point where I couldn’t even remember the last time I spent any amount of time in a daydream. I felt very accomplished and celebrated with trying to daydream and realized it became difficult to do so. Then I felt very, very accomplished and decided to celebrate with cookies instead. And now years later, I’m reflecting on the limitations I placed on myself with those fanciful dreamscapes I created. None of the daydreams involved me reaching my full potential or achieving major goals, going to college and graduating, becoming successful in business, taking part in changing the lives of children in Malawi. Once I stopped running away from what was given to me in my life, I realized that I could deal with those things. I could learn from them, build on them and become someone much more developed than the me of my daydreams.
The young girl who escaped to a world where she was a part-time mermaid with a booming shoe collection and had the heart of a prince became a distant memory. I started living a series of stories beyond “happily ever after”. Whatever that escape mechanism is, it usually starts innocently enough. Sometimes you can’t tell that the daydreams are stealing your waking hours from producing the incredible work that God has inside of you waiting to bloom. Once I recognized that, I made the decision to break the cycle and my days gained so much color.
I even have a booming shoe collection. Priorities.