Pinch Me--I Must Be Dreaming
by Ingrid Schaffenburg
What do you want to do with your life? I mean, what do you really want to do? Take away expectations, fears, obligations, what's practical. What do you really want to do?
Perhaps you’re one of the fortunate folks who are already doing what they love each day and are completely content. But perhaps not. Perhaps you’re still gazing at a dream that seems to be out of reach. Wondering when and if it’ll ever happen. Perhaps you feel you’ve tried as hard as you can and are at a point of giving up hope because things aren’t turning out the way you had envisioned.
Having been on both sides of the fence—of doing work I love versus taking work for the sake of putting food on the table—I can honestly say that holding out and holding onto a dream is worth every minute of heartache, insecurity, and late bill payments it takes to get there. But just like true love, sometimes we must let go of what we want in order to let it come to us.
And that’s the lesson that took me 10 years to learn. In fact, I got my current role as host for the new TV show Wild About Barns (aka My Dream Job) while working on an Internet startup during a “break” from entertainment. So I feel in a way, letting go allowed it to find me.
I began working in entertainment in the early 2000s and went through several periods of quitting, then picking back up again—which I hear is quite normal. The unstable life of an artist can get to you after a while and you begin to crave some type of security instead of waiting for the next project to come along. Many of us have gone back to grad school, started up our own companies, or taken a job that seemed more satisfying for a time, simply because it gave us a steady paycheck.
But I found that no matter what alternative path I tried, my dreams never went away. They certainly shifted over the years and took on different forms, but they were always there, somewhere in the background, just waiting for the right moment to come forth and actualize again.
This process of landing the job of my dreams also taught me that there is an element of timing to everything, over which we don’t always have control. This is important to understand as writers and artists. It’s this knowing that develops trust, which hopefully helps us keep our sanity during the ups and downs in our careers.
Looking back on my years in LA as an actress, I realized that I was always more interested in forming genuine connections with people than landing the job. In my early 20s, it felt like I had oodles of time to establish myself—especially when people tell you it takes an average of eight to ten years to build a career. But when 30 hit and I was still waiting tables, I got down on myself for not trying harder when I was younger to create a solid career.
Funnily enough, I can now see that my natural inclination to form relationships and my general curiosity about others and their stories is the very aspect of myself I now use in my work as a host. Which leads me to the realization that we may not understand why we’re doing what we do at the time, but in retrospect, it all makes sense.
Career experts will tell you to “do what you are.” There’s even a book by that title written by Paul D. Tieger that helps readers better understand themselves and their strengths and weaknesses in order to find a job best suited for them. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right fit, but when you do, it’s magical. And when I awoke on my first day of filming for Wild About Barns, I was reminded that I was doing just that: I was being given the opportunity, once again, to do what I am, combining my innate desire to connect with people along with my love of horses, barns, history, travel, and architecture.
Dreams have true power. Passion is electric. And, in my humble opinion, you owe it to yourself and the world to stand by what you want and feel you must do.
So I encourage you to never give up on a dream. Embrace all that you are, for there is only one you. Only YOU can do what you do in the way you do it. Trust in the natural timing of life and understand that there is real power in letting go. It may very well be what you need to do in order to get what you want.
Ingrid Schaffenburg is a Dallas-based writer and television host who has a passion for helping others lead fuller, richer, more joyful lives. She holds a BS in journalism from Texas Christian University and has worked in entertainment for more than a decade. Her show, Wild about Barns, airs in January 2015. She currently blogs at ingridschaffenburg.wordpress.com.