Choose Your Own Adventure | Darling Magazine

What did you dream of when you were a little kid? What about in those romantic teen years when everything was possible and nothing was too cheesy or far-fetched? What do you dream of in the middle of the night when nobody’s there to laugh or tell you your dreams are unrealistic?

We lose a lot of things as we age. Some things (like baby fat and braces) slipped mercifully out the back door and I was glad to see them go. But I find myself mourning the loss of other things—important things, things that our world is in desperate need of.

One of our biggest losses is our dreams.

When we’re little, we can concoct any scenario, imagining ourselves as pirates or doctors, swinging from the rigging of a ship or saving a life. We imagine love to be an infinite endless thing, not something that is settled for or neglected. But somewhere along the line we get distracted. We start to follow a track and forget that we wanted to get off.

Go to high school, go to college, get a degree, get a job. Make at least 30K a year and there’s no time for travel. Do, go, become, achieve, and before you know it you’re tired and living a life that’s so deeply unfamiliar that it keeps you up at night.

So where would you go if you could rewrite the story? What would you do if you could pencil in the details, choosing a different adventure—your own adventure?

On my second date with my boyfriend he told me about something I call his “dreams list.” It was something that a mentor of his asked him to create, giving him a pad and a pencil and telling him to sketch in the details. There were no restrictions, no parameters, just a simple question: What do you want to do with your life?

He started telling me the details of the list—jump out of an airplane, write a book, be a dad. His dreams were immediate and long-term, realistic and far-fetched. But something remarkable was missing from his description of his list.

An apology.

He didn’t apologize for his dreams, qualifying them or asking me not to laugh. He didn’t clarify his expectations or shy away from the big-ticket items. He shared his dreams with me as normally and humbly as though he were reading me a grocery list, but with a mischievous glint of life dancing behind his eyes.

It got me thinking. Where do we end up when we stop paying attention? And where could we go if we started to? What would we do if we could pencil in the details of our lives, adding color and dimension with the faith and imagination of a child? What could be recovered if we began to dream again?

Image via Cape Cod Collegiate


  1. I love your story; it reminds me of a story, if you don’t mind I will share….
    A long time ago I was going through a rough patch, and seeing a councillor, she asked me to close my eyes and think about what I would want my life to look like if if could be anything. no thought about the past, no thought about my talents or education, no thought of the hard work to create that life, just the life waking up in the morning and everything would be as I wanted it to be.
    I realized at that moment I had never really dreammed, and without dreams I had no where to go.
    So I started to dream, and wonderful things happened….. But sometimes I forget to dream…..
    it is wonderful that you reminded me to dream
    thank you for that

  2. Thank you Tori! I’m so glad that it was encouraging! I hope that you really do go for those dreams of yours… start anywhere! Getting started is the hardest part! 🙂

  3. This is exactly what I needed to read. I’m still young and have dreams I hope to achieve, but lately I’ve been stuck in this weird rut where I don’t know what to do, where to start, all that jazz… It’s daunting. Thank you for posting this. It opened up my eyes some more. This is a wonderful blog.

  4. Lauren, I’m so glad that this spoke to you so directly! I hope that you go for those dreams!! Keep me updated, I’d love to hear about them!


  5. This piece spoke so directly to me. I read it yesterday morning just and honestly couldn’t help but hold a tear back as my heart has been longing to live out the dreams it has been holding in. I read darling everyday, and I’ve never been as moved as I was when reading this article–so, thank you!

  6. Thank you so much Karina! I’m so glad that you’re feeling and seeing these things too! I hope that we all can make outrageous dreams lists and feel beyond grateful as we get to watch them come true!

  7. I’ve been thinking about this lately, but only vaguely. You on the other hand have really put the words to my thoughts and feelings – that we just follow the crowd as life proceeds. People want something extraordinary in their lives, but more often than not we restain our dreams and exploring thoughts, and classify them as impossiple, stupid and too adventurous. We need to break out of this ideology most of the world seems to be following, and take some chances chasing those dreams that really mean something to us and not give them up before they’ve even started.

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