Last night I had an incredibly depressing sex dream about Bradley Cooper.
Yes, apparently that IS possible. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
We were on the set of a movie in Vancouver, though it remains a mystery why I was there. Bradley Cooper and Keri Russell played star-crossed lovers. They couldn’t be together in the movie because they worked for opposing political campaigns. They couldn’t be together in real life because in real life she is married. Dream Bradley was in love with her. It was written all over his face and in his puppy dog eyes. The crew members looked pityingly at him, in love with a girl who would never return his love, on screen or off.
So Dream Bradley instead settled for me. He invited me into his trailer, made halfhearted efforts with wine that was too spicy and candles that made me sneeze. He went feebly through the motions, almost convincing me that it was really me he wanted. I accepted this. I didn’t ask more of him. I didn’t show him who I really was or what I really wanted.
I was the stand-in for the woman he loved, and I knew it. Who knows why I stayed, in this dream of mine. Except I do it in real life sometimes too. Sometimes it’s just easier that way. Sometimes it’s easier to settle for what we’re offered than to fight for what we deserve. Sometimes it’s easier to ignore that little voice that whispers, "You are more than this," to pretend we don’t really hear it, to imagine that it must have been speaking to someone else.
All I know is that it’s pretty awful to play a supporting role in your own sex dream.
I went to dinner earlier this week with some of my favorite clients, including a few I've known for over 10 years, since the very beginning of my career. One of them was celebrating her 55th birthday that day, and we were lucky enough to share it with her. We spent much of the evening catching up and telling stories about the “good old days,” when she turned the conversation more serious with one question for the rest of us: “Who and what do you want to be when you are 55?”
I sat there silently, watching everyone else’s faces as they thought about who they wanted to be at 55. I could see it wasn't easy to articulate. For some, maybe this future was too far beyond what they'd yet considered. For others, maybe they found themselves confronted with a present that wasn't what they wanted it to be. Maybe they, too, were sidekicks in their dreams. I tried to listen to their answers, but my mind was racing, wondering how I would be able to share just what I wanted for myself, the way I hadn’t been able to do in my Bradley Cooper dream.
What if all of my dreams are ridiculous? What if they thought so too? What if what I want is just too much? What if they thought I was crazy for even thinking they were possible? What if they really weren’t possible?!
What would happen if I just… put them out there?
It’s safer to keep your dreams inside, hidden from the world, secrets stashed away in your heart. If no one knows about them, they won’t know if you fail at them. They won’t see rejections and steps backwards and knockdowns and heartbreaks. They won't be able to judge them, or you for having them.
And I’m now realizing that the likelihood of any these dreams actually coming to fruition while they’re squirreled away somewhere, unseen to the world, is probably pretty slim. This is where you have to take the chance to make the magic happen. This is where you have faith that your friends and your family and the universe will listen without judgment. This is where you trust.
So here goes. Who I want to be at 55:
I want to be in love.
I want to be a world traveler.
I want to be an accomplished novelist.
I want to be a mother.
I want to be comfortable in my body.
I want to be singing.
I want to be someone’s first choice.
I want to be happy.
And now it’s out there.
What happens when you admit what you really want? What happens when you refuse to be someone’s backup plan? What happens when you say, “This, what I am now, is not enough for me?” What happens when you open yourself up, take the leap, and accept what comes?
It becomes more tangible. It becomes more possible. It becomes more real. You take ownership of what you want. You become the star in your own life.
Oh, and just one more to add to my list: in my next sex dream, I want to be in the leading role. Preferably with Bradley Cooper as my enamored co-star.