Tell me did you think we'd all dream the same?

Isn't it funny the way your passions and goals evolve over time? Have you ever stopped and taken stock of the ways you've grown and changed? Because the past two years of my life have been spent in constant motion- spent bouncing around between Virginia, Alabama, Morocco, Georgia, and Egypt- I have been pretty aware of the changes I've undergone as I have matured and experienced things. But it was only just now that I really started thinking and taking stock of my own personal evolution, in the context of career goals in particular, over the course of my entire life. It's a pretty interesting path.

When I was four, during my bath, I told my mom I wanted to be a model. She smiled encouragingly, at which point I dashed out of the bath, sopping wet and butt naked, to the front door, where I stuck my little four year old leg out the door provocatively, showgirl style. I returned to the bathroom and corrected myself: "A NUDE model."

A few months later, I amended this goal to include bricklaying. A nude bricklayer/model. Isn't that just a centerfold waiting to happen?

A few years later, I wrote a letter to American Girl Magazine [remember them?] imploring them to help me figure out how to become a successful child actor. After all, I wrote, I was much better at acting than all of the girls on the Disney channel..this was my destiny! I also bought all the Harriet the Spy spy equipment and considered becoming an international sleuth.

After a brief, not-so-successful child modelling career in Japan, I decided I very much needed to be a model, get rich, and be on billboards.

Along with three friends in Hawaii, I formed a band called Crush. At the age of 10, I was convinced Crush was the next Spice Girls. Anyone who has heard me sing will attest to the fact that I cannot carry a tune in a bucket.

In middle school I briefly considered joining the Army one day. Fashion designer and best-selling writer followed.

In high school my main goal was to find a husband and get married, and I almost succeeded- twice. My two high school sweethearts both proclaimed their intent to marry me, and at one point I had a real diamond ring on my finger. Looking back, I can't help but laugh at how silly it all was and marvel at how unhappy I would be now had I gone through with those plans.

When I realized I would, at some point, have to have a job, I dreamt of opening my own all-star cheerleading gym or becoming a fashion marketing executive.

As college loomed closer and I began to become more acutely aware of world events, I coupled my love of writing with my support for the American military, and began laying plans to become a wartime correspondent. Little did I know that this interest would blossom into a love of the Middle East and one day lead me to Morocco and Egypt.

To make that dream a reality, I began taking Arabic classes my first semester of college. As I fell in love with the language, I adjusted my plans to include working for the American governemnt and routinely pushed myself to the brink of a breakdown as I began transforming myself into the ideal candidate- restricting my behavior, learning to supress my emotions, devouring every bit of information on the Middle East that I could get my hands on.

Morocco reintroduced me to the beauty of the world, reawakened my senses and my imagination, forced me to remember that life was meant to be really LIVED and not just controlled in pursuit of some distant goal. My plans, so strict and without room for deviation, relaxed and once again I became the author of my plans rather than a cog in the machine propelling me towards some far-off goal. Sure, my plan was much less focused, but I was happier and healthier than I had been in a long time, much more at peace with myself and my future, whatever it may be.

Today my dreams are open and endless, but firmly rooted in the Middle East, this beautiful, crazy, terribly, mysterious, misunderstood corner of the earth that I now call home. I would still be honored to one day serve my country working in an embassy in the Middle East or North Africa, but certainly not at the cost of denying myself the amazing experiences I want to have first. I am determined to experience the world on my own terms, in every conceivable way, beforehand. And if that doesn't work out? I would be more than happy to commit my life to working for any number of beautiful nonprofit organizations devoted to bettering the world I love so much. Or perhaps I will be a travel writer, specializing in ME/NA, sharing with the world this beautiful culture that has so captivated my mind and my heart. We'll see what happens.

I guess this was a long-winded way of saying this: Life is beautiful; the world is beautiful; change is beautiful. Personal evolution is healthy and inevitable and so necessary. Your life is your own; let your cast-off plans become a foundation upon which to build bigger, better dreams; take the broken shards of your old dreams and build beautiful dream mosaic masterpieces. You are the author of your own plan; write "vivid sentences in a bold hand".

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