For Christmas, I asked for inspirational books. I love reading. Even more so, I love reading true inspirational stories that leave my heart happy and my eyes wet.
The first book I started reading was "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. The college professor writes about his life after terminal cancer. Most importantly, he writes about his life experiences. The things he has learned. The people he has met. And what touches me the most, is when he talks about acheieving his childhood dreams.
Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am a dreamer. A believer. And I'll do anything to reach my dreams. Every day I walk down my stairs and see a sign that serves as a constant reminder for this part of my soul, "Imagine it, you can achieve it. Dream it, you can become it."
So I started thinking about my childhood dreams. What I wanted. Who I wanted to be. Where I wanted to go. I created this list in my head:
I wanted to go to the ocean, when I remembered it.
I was born in Japan and we moved to South Carolina until I was just months old (I think). Mom would always take us to the ocean. We would run on the beach and chase the seagulls. We would eat bolgona sandwiches full of mayo, cheese, and a special touch of sand. I only have pictures to remind me of those times, but I know they were some of the best days during my childhood. Growing up, I just had those pictures, not the memories. I wanted to go back to that place. And when I was about ten years old, my Dad took us back to the place where I had some of my best childhood memories. We went on the same peir that he fished off. We drove by the house that we used to live in. We chased the seagulls and even ate the same sand and bolgna sandwiches. The only difference was I went to this place with a newer family. My parents divorced when I was young, so I came back with my step mom and two younger sisters. I had a blast. I remember closing my eyes listening to the waves. I pictured my mom there. She had long hair. She had a smile on her face and she was holding my hand. She was happy. We were happy. A dream come true.
I wanted to have a date to a school dance.
Thank you Cinderalla for making me understand the importance of having a beautiful dress to wear and impress the man of my dreams. In reality, I was a heavy set young girl. And some people really don't understand how mean kids can be until they have something that sets them apart. I was tall. I was taller than every single boy in my class until about eighth grade. I got called "The Jolly Green Giant" or "a beast" nearly ever recess period. Kids would walk by and ask, "So, how is the weather up there?" It crushed me. I was set apart. I was reminded that I was different, but that didn't stop me from dreaming. Despite all the name callings, I knew one day I'd find my prince for the ball. I cried a lot, don't get me wrong. But I have a wonderful family who reminded me that I am a beautiful person inside and out -- one of a kind. I got my first date to a school dance when I was in tenth grade, Andy Sauer. I was on Homecoming court and was representing our class during the football game. We had a great time and I just found the big picture of us holding hands at the dance like a happy couple. We weren't dating, but my dream finally came true. He even brought me a flower. :)
I wanted to marry Nick Carter.
The Backstreet Boys made my heart melt. Even though Nick Carter was five years older than me, I knew he thought about me. I just knew he wanted to marry me one day. He loved me and didn't know me yet. Okay, maybe not so much. Maybe about 2 million young girls world wide also thought the same thing. I'm not sure, but I did sign my middle school yearbook as "Ashley Carter" -- so in my own, unqiue way I had married Nick Carter. He just didn't know it. A dream wedding outside of reality.
I wanted to ride the tallest rollar coaster in the world.
My step mom taught me the importance of living on the edge. She was so fun. She went horseback riding on tall trails and loved riding roller coasters. We went on a family vacation one year with no destination in mind. We were just going to drive and see where we ended up. Cedar Point was one of the pit stops. I remember looking up at "The Magnum" roller coaster. I thought it was so tall that I could say "hello" to Jesus Christ in the sky. I stopped in the middle of the walkway and people had to dodge around me. Frustrated, they were. In awe, I was. My dad looked at me and smiled. He was going on the ride with me. We waited for more than an hour to get on the ride. I kept seeing younger people than me. I thought, surely if they can do this I can. I looked at older people. If they don't have a stroke, surely I won't. But I was still terrifed. Finally, it was our turn. The gates opened. "GOOOOD AFTERNOON MAGNUM RIDERS! Are you excited to travel (lots of feet) in the air and drop at speeds of (I really wasn't breathing so I didn't know what she said)?!?!" No I wasn't ready. I looked at my dad with tears in my eyes, but not yet running down my cheeks. "Dad, I really don't want to do-" and we took off. The clinking sound the rollar coaster made on the way up was the worst part. I looked down and saw nothing but tiny ants for people. We dropped so fast and my stomach fell into my mouth. My dad was laughing so hard and then I started laughing. My dad is incredible. He is my hero and I got to live out one of my dreams with him, laughing the entire way.
I wanted to be homecoming queen.
I was just thirteen years old when I realized I had another dream in life. Trapped in an unfamiliar body; I knew who I wanted to be, but I wasn't there yet. I was playing football with the boys, a true tom boy. I was wearing basketball shorts and a white t-shirt. I didn't have any make-up on and I don't think I brushed my hair in two days. I didn't own anything other than a sports bra and I always wore tall socks to my knees. I wasn't popular and boys never gave me a double take, unless trying to figure out what I was thinking wearing that outfit. I was not homecoming queen material, but I still always loved the home football game where the girls dressed in beautiful dresses and waited patiently for the annoucer to name her queen. I always looked at the girls' faces who didn't win first. I wanted to see the fake smile or the bratty expression. I already knew what the girls' face looked like who won. She was so happy. I wanted to be her. Who knew that years later, my dream would have a head start. I was homecomg court my sophomore year in high school. I got a close-up view of the queen and her court. Finally, my senior year the principal came on for the end of day annoucements. He read off all the names for queen canidates. With a smile on my face, I heard him say my name. I couldn't believe it. I had wanted this since I was a tom boy watching all the pretty girls from the sidelines. Now, I had the chance to be the queen. The chance to prove to other girls like me that dreams come true. And you don't have to be a size zero and have the best clothes. You just have to be yourself. And for that reason, my peers voted me as their homecoming queen. I looked up at the crowed and heard a roar of cheers. The first face I saw was my dad. He was so proud. Then I saw my mother. She was smiling so big. She has such a beautiful smile that it brought tears my eyes. She, of all people, knew my struggles with my self-esteem. I wrote her e-mails about never fitting in and constantly wanting to be better. She told me to stay who I am. I'm glad I listened to her. For some people, this isn't a big deal--its just high school. But for me, this was a dream come true.
I wanted to be a cheerleader.
I would go to sporting events all the time. My step brother was in every sport possible and I was boy crazy. So, I knew in order to check out the hot boys, I needed to "support my step brother." But more than that, I always sat in the stands and watched the cheerleaders. I loved their outfits. I loved that they could lift up the crowd. I loved that they could perform dances and do back flips. I could never do any of that, but I dreamed of it. When I was a senior in high school, one of my best friends told me to come to cheerleading practice with her. I joked that I could pratice with her. Suddenly, the joke turned serious. "Ashley, you would be the best cheerleader. You have such spirit!" Yeah, and no coordination. But I went and I practiced. Without even trying out, I walked onto the squad. I was really bad at first and I cried when I had to perform the dance I had just learned in front of the entire squad. I just kept thinking about how much everyone was judging me. I coulnd't handle the pressure. And I broke down. But that didn't stop me. I took home a video tape and practiced the dance in my basement about thirty times a day. Over and over again. Finally, I mastered it. I was so proud of myself. I never thought I could do something like this and all it took was putting myself out there. Taking a chance and staying positive. A dream came true and a lesson learned.
I wanted to be Britney Spears.
If you didn't want to be Britney Spears, then you wanted to date her. I was part of the team that wanted to be her. I wanted to have her body. I wanted to have her tan. I wanted to have her dance moves. And I was perfectly fine with dating Justin Timberlake. My dream came true when I was asked to be a part of a talent show at my high school. The twist was that it would be called, "Bellmont Idol" and some teachers would be judges that acted like Randy, Simon, and Paula. Students would dress up like constestants and lip sing songs. Or actually sing. But since my voice would shatter glass, I decided to lip sing. Who would I be? The answer was obvious: I would be Britney Spears. I already had the outfit. I wore it many times at home. Dancing in my room to her music. The school girl skirt. The tall thigh high stockings. The white t-shirt tucked into my bra. And the black clogs. I had it all. I was ready to go. With the help of my cheerleading friends, I created a dance and everything. I got on stage. Nervous. The lights were warm on my face and I saw my friends in the crowd. They made signs for me like they were at a concert. "We love Britney!!" and "No. 1 Britney Fan!" Everyone thought it was a joke, but for me, this was a dream come true. I finally got to be Britney Spears and in front of then entire school, not my bedroom mirror. They have this on video at my high school and I would pay money to see the footage. It was a great show and I would have gladly signed autographs at the end. :)
I wanted to get an "A" in a college course.
I wasn't the smart kid in class growing up. I never knew the answer when the teacher called me. I always knew the answer when the teacher didn't call me on me though. Funny how that works out. I don't think I was motivated in high school to focus on my grades. I didn't think I was an "A" student, so I never tried to be one. When I went away to college, I knew what everyone was thinking. "She will be back next semester because all she will do is party!" The thing is, I'm paying for my college on my own. I'm working for it. Everytime I miss class, I am the one missing out. I think with that pressure and responisbility, I learned the importance of taking control of my education. When I first came to college, I just wanted one "A" -- because I thought it was impossible to do. Now, I strive for an "A" in every class. I love learning and stretching my mind to new places. A dream of mine turned into an expectation.
I wanted to marry my best friend.
This dream will come true on May 15, 2010 when I marry Justin. :) I will blog about that day then.