When I was growing up I wanted to be an actress. It was my original dream. Then it turned to singer, turned Broadway star. (I know you’re laughing, but bear with me.) Once I hit college I knew that dream wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, so it turned into a desire to work in broadcasting. I wanted to move to Bristol, work at ESPN and be the next Robin Roberts. I was set, but then reality hit. I moved home following college, moved in with my parents, and started interviewing for TV jobs. I quickly realized the job offers I was receiving to work in the middle of nowhere didn’t allow for me to even have a livable wage, let alone much of a life. Once again, I shoved that dream into my back pocket and moved forward.
I got lucky. I quickly found a job in a parallel industry (public relations) and never looked back…ish. I’ve been working in PR for 15+ years. I love my job. It’s afforded me a great life, some really fun adventures, and a beautiful family. All things I’m proud of. However, I can’t help but look back at the decision I made to give up my original dream and wonder, what if?
I went to a wedding recently where I ran into an old classmate of mine from college. We took the same classes, studied the same things, but went in different directions post-graduation. I moved home, got a job in PR, and started a family. He moved to New York, started working at one of the national TV networks, and is now a senior staffer at a top morning show. (Jealous!) During our conversation, I looked at him and said, “Wow, you did it, you’re doing it. You’ve really made it!” Not because I was being nice, but simply because I truly felt like he was living the dream, my dream. It didn’t take long for him to smile and chuckle a bit and say, “Lauren, you’re doing it too!”
You see, I told him about my kids, my husband, my job, my life in the burbs. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but there was likely envy from him as well. What if he had made a different decision or taken a different path. I was shocked certainly, but looking back now I understand. It’s ok for me to wonder what if, while still appreciating what I have now.
Envy is funny that way. It’s not always what it’s cracked up to be and quite frankly the grass isn’t always greener. I don’t think I will ever stop dreaming of co-hosting Sportscenter or being on the sidelines for the Super Bowl or College Game Day. But I can also confidently say I will never stop appreciating the life I have now and the dream I am now living.