Are you “Living The Dream” For Real?
Have you ever run into an old friend from school, a former colleague, or perhaps a relative you haven’t seen in some time, and they ask, “How you have been?” or “So, what are you doing now?” At that moment, do you wrack your brain trying to think of an answer to impress them, or does your mind go blank? Or, do you simply respond, “Living the dream.” If you are a New Englander, you might drop the “g” and enthusiastically respond, “Livin’ the dream, baby, livin’ the dream.”
What crosses your mind next is “Why did I respond THAT way?” As the conversation ensues, the person you are talking with goes through a list of things happening in his or her life. You listen, smile, nod, and are truly happy for that person. What ensues next is how you are going to respond. Suddenly you ask yourself if you truly are living the dream?
This can be an uncomfortable position to be in, because in today’s world, nothing is perfect, but in the world of social media, it’s often that we feel we need to measure up to whatever the next post is that you read. When you read or hear about someone else’s life, if you begin comparing your story to theirs, does it make you feel better or worse? Are you concerned that you need to come up with something that sounds impressive?
If you haven’t had a major experience, or trip, or job promotion, do you forge on and answer truthfully, letting them know you go to work, come home, enjoy time with your family and watch a little television at night, or surf the net, or read a good book. Yes, a real book that you open, and not read your Kindle (which you may or may not own!).
If you don’t have kids, or have children who struggle, do you want to bring that into the conversation? Today, if you are not blogging, or posting or checking Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat, every 4 minutes, if you haven’t been on Pinterest in 24 hours, does that mean you aren’t living the dream?
We live in a world today where so many people want it to appear that they are living the dream and they point it out daily on social media. Perhaps your life is not about that, but it revolves around taking care of an aging parent, or sick sibling. Maybe you’ve been laid off twice in the last three years and you are in the midst of job searching, and the on-line process is frustrating you. Maybe you have just gotten your first chip at AA, and you don’t want that person to know you’ve been struggling. To you, living the dream is that first chip.
Living the dream doesn’t always mean you’ve just returned from an African Safari, or have been honored for that 20th Top Salesperson Award. Both are great accomplishments and it is acceptable to be recognized for them. Living the dream might be that you recently dropped 25 pounds, and no longer have to take medication high blood pressure. That in itself is a milestone. Maybe you go to a job every day that you like, but what you love is coming home to a quiet apartment or house, where you can sit with your dog and enjoy an evening of unconditional love. Maybe, living the dream is helping others in whatever field in which you work from accounting to health care, grocery bagging to cleaning hotel rooms. You simply enjoy what you do. Maybe you volunteer at a local animal shelter. Maybe, you just live the dream, honoring that life is different for everyone, and you choose what you want to do every day.
Whatever Living the dream means to you, it doesn’t have to impress the other person you just met up with. It only has to make you happy. Your dreams need to be in line with whatever you want, not what you might be reading or hearing about.
In many ways, I’ve pointed out that you don’t have to become beholden to social media. Yet, there are so many benefits to it. Social media in its own right can be a great source of connection in a world that often times we feel extremely disconnected. If used correctly, It is a resource for many, a way to stay in touch with people we know, and sometimes those we haven’t met, but perhaps get to know, and one day meet.
It is important for me to interject here that I love the outdoors, hiking being my true passion. Because of social media, I now regularly have tea with a woman who likes to hike as much as I do. We had no previous connection. She is friends with someone I grew up with. I hadn’t talked with him in many years. He was a friend of one of my older brothers. I remember him from coming to our house when I was young. I saw his photos on line, and we connected for two reasons, to catch up, and then she and I began a conversation on social media. What has come out of that connection is that I have gained a new friend who is happy to hike with me, winter or summer. A year ago, I was wondering how I could find more people to get “into the hills” in sometimes sub-zero temperatures. I understand that winter hiking is not for everyone! That said, winter hiking is one of the ways I live my dream.
Another way social media has been beneficial to me has been with my work. A friend that I grew up with in my hometown reached out to me to help her with marketing and networking. I never left home, and live 6 miles away from the house in which I grew up. She moved to the Midwest and loves it. She’s been following me on Facebook and enjoys seeing my hiking pictures. She also knows I’m a Realtor and must market myself every day, which involves, writing, event planning, networking, negotiation, marketing, advertising, and a myriad of other activities that allow my business to grow.
When she reached out to me, she didn’t ping me, text me, or try to skype. She picked up the phone and left me an upbeat and happy voice mail that brought a smile to my face. In the next several days, we did IM, ping, and text. We set up a phone call and discussed for an hour how to get her back to her New Hampshire roots and grow her business at the same time. The best part of the conversation was both of us talking about our passions. Hers being her music and business venture, mine, marketing and hiking.
My friend mentioned how much she loves seeing my hiking pictures on Facebook . I explained to her that hiking is the balance that allows me to live my dream, and although what she sees when I post is generally about hiking, I have many other things in my life that need attention, such as my ailing mom. I am a caretaker and have been for a good part of my life. My balance is about being there for my mother, while enjoying my life with my husband as we find the next hiking adventure which is usually a drive up
I-93 in to a mountain in our Whites. My joy is knowing I can go out my back door and walk 8 miles of hiking trails, and on the same day be there for whatever my mom may need.
In the end, living the dream is about what I love, which is hiking and marketing, especially writing, while knowing that I am simply an outdoorsy girl who loves that I am able to work, care take, and play in my hometown, and when I run into an old friend, can truthfully say, “I’m living the dream, baby, livin’ the dream.”