By Madeline Sweeney
I read this quote awhile back that said, "The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but, above all, the world needs dreamers who do." I've always been a dreamer. I talk a big game about my hopes for the world, the stories of people in desolate lands destined for me to tell, and the adventures I'd have once this chapter of my life ended and the next began. I'd wonder how I was going to get there: to Portland, to Thailand, to Tanzania.
I began collecting imaginary faces of the people I'd meet.
I would sit at my desk writing content for an American-based furniture company, reflecting on the visionaries that would walk through the office on a daily basis. They had a mission, an objective. Somewhere along the line I realized I did, too, and it involved a leap of faith, a big gust of courage and underlying support from family and friends.
In the last year I've lived in four places I consider home: a house full of girls at John Carroll University (JCU), an apartment with my former boyfriend, in my cousin's home with his wife and, finally, the little studio apartment I live in today. From June, 2016 to May, 2017, I have had my world flipped, flopped, spun into a tornado and peacefully scattered. This past year has been my greatest because of what it has made me.
I am stronger, smarter and irrevocably driven to become a dreamer who does.
Just over a month ago, I sat in an office with two respectable woman who genuinely care about me. We discussed my position and role within the company; what my job entailed and where I saw myself. My former boss finally asked me, "Are you happy?" and for the first time in my life, literally, I could not speak due to a loss for words.
Was I happy?
Sure. I had spent months rebuilding myself into an independent woman. I found joy in the journey, even when it felt like all that was joyful had been swallowed whole by the depths of the ocean. I pride myself on keeping my head up, eyes open and heart full, but as I sat with my thoughts in the office on Main Street, I felt like my optimism had become more of a shield than a way of life. I had convinced myself that going through the motions of waking up, showering, sitting stagnant, leaving work and going to sleep was what "fullness" entailed. My boss followed up: "If you could do anything right now what would it be?"
Sitting speechless that day made me feel naked. My optimism was suddenly a shield, and I had convinced myself the life I was living was making me happy. I talked myself into thinking that if I did everything "the right way" I would be as satisfied as my parents. My amazing, supportive mom and dad met when they were a freshman and sophomore at JCU. My mom taught high school English while my dad was in medical school. They then settled down and had children. My mom and dad live a beautiful life, and they set me up to have my own too. It just turns out that my path does not assimilate the path of my parents', because
I am on an adventure to find joy in a different journey
- a journey completely unique to me, myself and I.
A month and a half ago I said goodbye to the computer screen, former meetings and web work. I told my boss I wanted to get a job in the service industry, to be with people forthright and center and to apply for the Peace Corps. I felt called to do more, and I was tired of being a dreamer who didn't.
I am currently working at a newly renovated restaurant in Columbus, Ohio while applying for the Peace Corps and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. It is my dream to teach English abroad, to collect stories of the voiceless and to share them with the world. In this moment, my joy is complete, for I am becoming a dreamer who does.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Madeline is a recent grad of John Carroll University and currently resides in Columbus where she writes content for Crow Works, a design and manufacturing company. During her time away from the office she volunteers at the Ronald McDonald house, plays in a soccer and sand volleyball league, and practices hot yoga. Madeline has a passion for hearing peoples’ stories, and she often spends her down time writing some of her own. Although she’s moved away from her alma mater, Cleveland will always be her favorite home.