You Can Dream Big on Your Birthday


It’s my birthday today. I honestly haven’t had much time to sit and think about it until now.

I am at my most thoughtful AND productive as I sit here in the dimly lit dining room at 9:31pm. The kids have finally given up the ghost and fallen asleep. Husband called it an early night.

And here I sit, alone with my thoughts and my Simplified planner. Multiple windows are open—online calendars, three different email inboxes, an UpToDate tab, an Amazon tab, and two Google documents (one with RSVPs to my daughter’s birthday party and one with some psychopharmacology review). 

As I stare at the bright light of the computer screen, which will, in all likelihood, suppress my melatonin and push back my sleep for an hour (at least), I think about what it is to have big dreams. 

Big dreams at THIS point in my life. At 39. 

It’s a weird time. I’m past quarter-life and (hopefully) not at a mid-way point. I’m not quite 40, but I’m so close—too close for comfort. 


A lot has happened this year.

A lot in my family. A lot in my work.

The most in my health.

It’s strange, but though my health stuff is better, even in the thick of it being the worst, I felt this need, this urge, to pursue the dream. There was this almost unnatural zest for life that came of it all.

There was so much to be done and said and seen that I just hadn’t yet. 

So I promised myself that if things worked out ok on the health front, I would go after the big dreams. The dreams you don’t tell people. The ones that seem so far out of reach that they lay hiding in Google documents or written down in old journals or on a takeout napkin.

The things that seem insurmountable. 

On my birthday, I am reminded that every year is going to pass anyway, and they for sure get faster every time.

I think back to an old friend and mentor who gave me a great word when I was hesitant to apply to medical school. At the time, I was a high school teacher here in Escambia County. I had taught for three years and was being tapped to move up the ranks. It was the pinnacle of where people wanted to be in that job. 

But for some reason, it wasn’t sitting right with me. As much as I tried to make myself, I just didn’t want it. Instead, against all reason and odds, I wanted to be a doctor. So I confided in my teacher friend, and what she said has stayed with me for the past 14 years.

I hope that it can encourage someone else who is considering going after the big thing. 

She told me that time was going to pass anyway, and I may as well do what I wanted. I could spend another year doing something I liked and was good at but still pining away for something else.

Or I could go after the thing. The big thing. The HARD thing.

And even if I didn’t get it, I might be able to sleep better at night knowing I gave it all I had. In this conversation, though, came another pearl of wisdom – “You are responsible for your own opportunities.”

Like a ton of bricks, it hits. No one was going to magically get me into school. No one was going to be there at midnight study sessions, encouraging me to keep going. No one. It would have to be me. 

It’s easy to look back and say, “Oh, hey, look, I did it!” Many others say the same. But they don’t know. They don’t understand the time, energy, and sacrifice it took. And honestly, I sometimes forget myself. Or I find myself making light of it. 

It took years. Years of delaying gratification. Years of putting my mind and my body through it. 

Yet, now, at 39, having had life happen to me and having realized my own mortality, I again want something different for myself. 

I want the big dream. Every season of my life thus far has prepared me in some way, shape, or form for it. It’s time. 

Birthdays are weird – time for reflection, time to stare down a ticking clock, but also a time of hope.

A time of looking at a glass half full. A time of taking inventory of your life and making adjustments accordingly. A time of recognition of your own thoughts and actions either helping or hindering yourself. 

So, as my birthday comes to a close, I hope that my musings allow you to take a hard look and sort out what big dreams you have. 

May you use your birthday as a time of reflection to determine what you really want.

May you give yourself permission to change the course or the dream entirely.

May you create your own opportunities.

And may you hold fast to the hard truth that time is going to pass either way.


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