Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about who I want to be when I grow up; a privilege I haven’t been able to indulge in for many years, as I was focused on simple survival. Recently a clear dream has formed, a phenomenon that is equal parts exciting and terrifying. It’s a dream that if I’m being honest with myself, I think I’ve had for a very long time, I just never let myself fully give into it. I was afraid to let go of my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian, because I’d already been forced to let go of so much of my childhood when I lost my mom. And there’s something about finally accepting this new dream and image of myself that feels like coming home, like this is what I was meant to do. This idea made me feel full, happy, it gave me purpose once again.
But as I was laying in bed last night after doing research on master degree programs, career paths, and so on, this nagging inkling of fear and doubt began to creep into my mind. It said that I have already failed once. Not just failed, but crashed and burned, and my life hasn’t been the same since. It said that I already had my chance at a dream and I couldn’t hack it. It said that I haven’t changed and that I would fail again. And I thought, I don’t think I could take that again. I don’t think I could build myself up all over again, just to have it all crumble beneath me.
And that’s when I realized that the voice I was hearing was not my own, but was my OCD’s. Living with the weight of OCD’s fears for all these years has trampled me down a bit. I think that I’ve lost faith in my own mind. I know what it feels like to be betrayed by my own thoughts, and what it feels like to have these intrusive fears tear down everything I’ve built for myself.
So yes, I’m still struggling with my OCD. Yes, I’m still not the fully functional person that I used to be, or society’s definition of a contributing and productive individual. And yes, I still struggle to get out of the house.
But the fact that I’m still struggling means that I haven’t given up. It’s time for me to give myself credit for how far I’ve come, for the progress I’ve made. It’s time for me to accept the fact that I can’t know the future; I can’t know what my mind has in store for me. But I’m not going to let that doubt stop me from trying. My failures, if we even want to call them that, don’t negate how hard I worked or how far I got.
I haven’t let myself dream in a long time. I was afraid of what it would mean, I was afraid that OCD would use it against me, and I was afraid that I would never make it. Last night I felt the doubt creep in and I let myself believe that it was too late. That I’d had my chance at a career, at a fulfilling life, and I’d let it go. And then someone reminded me that it’s never too late.
It’s still okay to dream. You’re never too old, never too broken.