I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller…. (Now that I’ve got that song stuck in your head, let me save you the trouble of going to Google it.)
Do you have recurring dreams? I’ve had a few throughout my life. Some began in my childhood and visit me only occasionally now. Others started making their way into my nights after I became a parent. There are returning dreams that involve my teeth, that I’ve read have something to do with responsibility and worry. I’ve also got a recurring dream that involves drowning, which I can only imagine stems from watching my infant daughter repeatedly stop breathing during her weeks in the NICU.
And then there is a dream that I’ve had periodically for as long as I can remember. I’m on a stage and I can sing. I mean, I can really sing. And every time I wake from that dream I feel the distinct shadow of disappointment hanging over me.
I was born in the late 70’s and grew up listening to some of the most amazing female rockers to ever take the stage. Before my palette was corrupted by Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, I rocked out to Pat Benatar and Joan Jett. In my dreams, I’m not Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift. I don’t have perfect blonde hair and a sparkly dress. I’m Ann Wilson, and my voice brings the audience to their feet, then drops them to their knees. The dream is always the same. I can really feel what it’s like to have a voice that powerful. It’s so incredibly real. When I wake up it takes me a moment to realize that it was a dream. Again.
As a child, I once read in one of those tween pop magazines that a famous vocalist first became able to sing after a long illness changed her voice. I waited anxiously hoping for just the right sore throat to prepare me for a lifetime of power ballads. I waited to be made better. I still have that dream sometimes. And it’s still a disappointment to wake up and remember that I do my best singing in the shower.
I think we have all have something that we secretly wish could be different about us. Taller, thinner, more confident, more athletic, more outgoing, more patient… I don’t know about you, but in those moments of self-doubt, I tend to turn to those around me, grasping for approval. I want desperately to be told that I’m worthy. That I’m worthwhile. The people who matter to me most play their practiced roles in my moments of insecurity. My best friend listens while my husband, an enigma who is at once the most confident yet ego-free person I’ve ever met, reassures me. They wait for the storm to pass, knowing that it always does.
A friend recently reminded me that the truth – the truth – is that we’re all born enough. We’re not dependent on anything outside of us to be enough. We just are. It’s not the ability to make that basket, not the feedback from the boss, not the applause of the audience that makes us worthy of love. It’s not even the reminders from our loved ones. We are exactly as we are meant to be the moment we’re born. And we are enough.
On those days when I can feel the lingering shadows of past disappointments following me, asking me to believe that the best me is lost somewhere in my dreams, I need to remember that I was made whole and am as I should be.
“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and we are all the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
But I still wouldn’t mind waking up one morning with a voice like Stevie Nicks.