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2021: Time to Dream—and Act—Again

by Elizabeth Waterstraat

Let's face it: 2020 was a different year. Everything changed: our daily life, work, relationships. As we navigated the complexity and challenge of last year, we probably let some things go. Maybe good habits, our commitment to health, our future plans. Maybe our dreams…

Dreams. If you listen closely enough, the voice in your head expresses them often. I should go back to school. I'd like to take piano lessons again. I want to set a new PR. Most of the time the noise of daily life muffles the voice of our dreams. But it’s always there, mumbling in the background.

You’re worth it. Make the time. Stay the path. Keep dreaming.

I went into 2020 with one goal tied to a bigger athletic dream, a voice which had been whispering in my head for years. It is a dream that both scares and inspires me; a big dose of fear mixed in with a dash of why not me?  It’s a dream, a goal that keeps pulling at me. And even if I don’t get close, I know the pursuit would teach me things about myself that would make it all worth it.

2020 was going to be my year to take action on my dream. To finally converse with the voice in my head, to say, I'm ready, let's give it our best.

But then: no races, no opportunities to chase the dream. As someone used to taking small, daily steps towards my dreams, the only action I achieved in 2020 was simply not letting go of what one day could be.   

Now, like leaves slowly unfolding buds on trees in spring, we are emerging. We have potential. I am fatigued from 2020 but still full of spirit and energy to chase after my dreams. Trust me, I have a long list of reasons to give up: I don't have the time, my left knee hurts, and so does my right foot, right hamstring, and both shins.

But I don't want my memories to be bigger than my dreams. I’m not ready to be satisfied. While it often seems the ultimate goal of life is to sit in your life and feel content, there is a discontent that exists inside of me. No amount of looking lovingly at my children or fading into normal life will ever quell that. That drive is both my strength and my weakness. I'm not chasing dreams to prove I am enough. That is precisely why I pursue my dreams. Because from a place of being enough, I know to honor the voice speaking inside of me.

Emerging. In no sense am I recharged from the year 2020. Everything is different but one thing remains the same: I am hopeful.

2021 will be the year to move further in the direction of my dream. It is going to take a colossal amount of energy, effort, and luck. But this voice, it won’t stop whispering. And as long as it hasn't given up on me, I know I should do the same. In a sense, the voice in my head has become my hero precisely because, despite obstacles and setbacks, it hasn't given up on me.

2021 can also be the year you emerge and move in the direction of your dreams. The year you don’t turn down the volume on the voice in your head – the year you instead listen with curiosity. Stay hopeful. Trust that voice has meaning. The possibility of your dream doesn't matter. Embrace the impossibility. Be courageous. Implore yourself to find out. Emerge from where you are into the best possible version of yourself.

And one year from now, if you have failed, don’t let it be because you didn’t listen or try in the first place.

What's a dream you'd like to chase?

3 responses to “2021: Time to Dream—and Act—Again

  1. I really enjoy the marathon distance…Not sure I will run one this fall but hope to next year and my just LOVE traveling on foot SO my dream is to travel somewhere again next year internationally to run another marathon. Not sure if I”ll ever re qualify for Boston but if I do, that is also another dream come true. It’s been awhile but to be perfectly honest, when I run internationally I am there for the 26.2 miles of scenery. Seeing the world on foot is an amazing dream I hope to make come true again post covid!

  2. I just moved to San Diego and there is a 5 Peak Challenge at a state park here to climb five of the mountains here. There are all under 2,000ft but as a Midwesterner, they might as well be Kilamajaro. I will be 40 this year and my goal is to climb all five peaks. I won’t be running and I know I will be slow, and it is scary as heck, especially going down, but I can’t wait to do it!

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