Where dreams become nightmares

I’ve been writing grad school application essays. I’ve been begging people to write reference letters and send them to said grad schools as well as various newspapers offering internships. I’ve been in a constant state of flurry, stress and agony about the future.

“A dream is a wish your heart makes / when you’re fast asleep.” Photo source.
These are the things I’ve been dreaming about for the past few years. Getting a great internship somewhere–the New York Times, maybe? A girl can dream–going to grad school, living in New York as a journalist/novelist/world traveler. And with every second that passes I get closer to reality and my dreams start to feel like nightmares.

They haunt me wherever I go. I wake up thinking about grad school; I go to bed wondering if I’ll get an internship; as I walk to class, I pretend I’m walking the streets of New York City in a business suit and stylish pumps on my way to my newspaper job. They’re dreams that are starting to become nightmares.

I’ve spent my whole life wanting nothing more than to be a writer. I want to write novels; I want to write articles; I want to write documentaries, memoirs, news segments, poems…I want to put my fingers to the keys and tap until brilliance pours out. I want these things so badly that my heart squeezes inside my chest and I start to shake.

The problem with all these dreams is that real life has a hard time intruding. I have a paper due next Thursday that I have barely thought about because I’m in the middle of writing a novel. I have a documentary to shoot and edit that I can’t focus on because I’m sitting on tenterhooks waiting for The New York Times to tell me that dreams come true and I’ve got an interview. I have a book to read for class that I haven’t looked at because my mind is consumed with thoughts of the grad school essays I’m eking out.

I have all these dreams that cloud my thoughts and when I go to sleep at night they become nightmares. The internship turns into a summer working at a discount store barely making minimum wage. Grad school becomes another nine months in Columbia just getting by. My future in New York warps into an unrecognizable slew of years in a Southern village driving my minivan to doctors’ appointments and church potlucks.

And there’s nothing wrong with those things. To some people, those are the dream. To me, though? They are the nightmare.

Writer: a dreamer who uses words to fashion dreams in others’ minds. Photo source.
I want to be a writer.

I fear I’ll be nothing more than a wanna-be writer who has stacks of novel manuscripts that never made their way to an agent, a publisher, an audience.

But I’m not going to let that happen. I will fight. No matter where I end up. If the internship becomes a retail job, I will write my novel. If grad school becomes nine months of a retail job, I will write articles and blog posts and re-apply. If my New York future becomes minivans and church potlucks, I will write stories about them and fight to have them published.

I will not let the nightmares come true. It will be the dreams, and that is that

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