Behind my back, my ex-boyfriend described me as a misguided dreamer.
He was explaining to my now-husband that despite my admirable qualities; he hated the aspiring side of my personality. The part of me that dreamed of “bigger things”.
The word ‘hated’ haunts me. Why did he date me if he hated part of my personality? A question I doubt I will ever have an answer too.
Yet, I admit the “bigger things” I aspired to achieve was bold compared to the life I was then living. I wanted to win an Oscar. As an actor. But at the time, I hadn’t starred in one movie, nor had I ever been an extra. I hadn’t auditioned for a movie, nor sought to find an agent.
A dreamer you could say was an accurate description.
Because all reasonable logic pointed to I was a dreaming a dream bigger than the world around me. Yet, when I heard him say this, something struck me inside.
It was this innate desire to invalidate his misconception of me. An eagerness to reprogram his opinion of me overtook my every fibre.
I wanted to prove him wrong. But why?
I took offence. But I love being a dreamer
Like any unwarranted criticism of my personality, I took offence immediately. How dare he say something like that about me? How dare he get it so completely wrong?
But I liked the dreamer side of my personality. I wore it like a badge of honour. I thought, and still do, that having goals gives you purpose to your life. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning. It gives you a reason to find excitement in the mundane.
When I reach small milestones, the joy is immense.
And I’ve always understood that people don’t get it. It comes with wanting what is logically impossible. I’ve seen many reactions to my Oscar aspirations, which have since evolved with my writing career.
But I know people think I’m silly. They might as well say I had as much chance to win the lottery.
I’ve always faced doubters.
It was the word ‘misguided’ that played on my mind. He implied that so many failures with that one word. He implied I had no chance at becoming an Oscar winner, nor the star of a movie. He implied that I was wrong is my beliefs and hopes.
And from someone so close to me, that hurt. He knew why I wanted to win an Oscar. He knew what I was doing day in and day out to get there. He knew the passion was exploding from my body. For him to say misguided seemed uneducated. Like he wasn’t paying attention.
I always wished he was more of a dreamer
I find aspiration admirable. I think people who want more of their life, who want bigger and better things, are attractive. To see the look in someone’s eyes when they speak of innate passion refills my soul.
My ex lacked the twinkle of aspiration.
He could have used a dose of my dreamer attitude. He could have used with wanting more in his life. Selfishly, maybe he would have understood me better.
But for his sake, a little more dreaming would have helped him. Perhaps he wouldn’t doubt the impossible. Perhaps he would have opened his mind to new opportunities. Perhaps he wouldn’t be stuck in the same job, with little opportunity before him.
I want to prove him wrong
Ever since I heard that comment, I’ve wanted the Oscar even more. I don’t want to die knowing that he was right. But I know the only way to prove him wrong is to do the impossible. Perhaps not win the Oscar, but be in contention, or be in a position where the idea isn’t completely impossible.
Why do I want to negate his opinion?
I don’t think I care as much about ex-boyfriend’s judgment as it would seem. I couldn’t care less if he still loves me or hates me.
My ex, in my mind, represents everyone who has ever doubted or questioned my abilities. He represents everyone who has ever laughed at me, or question my ostentatious goals. He embodies doubt.
And as much as we pretend we don’t care about the opinions of others, it’s impossible to ignore their voices. For when apprehension creeps in, their opinions follow along with it.
But these doubters are as part of life as death and taxes. In some ways, they are the people who keep us safe. They keep us from putting our hands in burning fire. Or save us from making irreversible financial decisions. Sometimes they only what's best for us.
When facing an inconceivable situation, there is fear somewhere. And if it’s not us who’s scared, someone else will step in to fill the role.
People like my ex only add fuel to the fire
I realise most people question the goals and ambitions of others because of their own sense of self.
I’ve projected my own issues to many people in the past. I’ve selfishly put down their choices to justify my own. I curse their new expensive handbag purchase because I’m jealous I can’t afford my own.
I know my ex well enough to know he never possessed the aspiration to put himself out there like I do. I know what he said comes from his own inadequacy. Much like my own.
But I’ve reprogrammed myself to use my jealousy as fuel. And to use the jealousy and dismay of others as a way of fueling my own pursuits.
Jealousy hasn’t gotten me anywhere in life. It hasn’t bought me the house I only eagerly want. It hasn’t secured me the Oscar I want to win. It hasn’t made me feel any better.
Transforming the unfounded yet naturally occurring jealousy into motivation has given me new inner strength. It’s my inspiration superpower. I’m able to turn my unproductive emotions into motivation.
I thrive off underestimation. The more they say I can’t, the more I tell myself I will.
To tell him I made it, despite his doubt, would feel good for a moment. A temporary high that only serves as revenge. Revenge and jealousy live in the same toxic sphere, in my experience. Both harbour resentment and bitterness that doesn’t serve me. They’ve only held me back from being the best version of me.
What I look forward to more is telling the people who’ve supported me I’ve made it. That I got there. And to celebrate with them, holding the gold statue with immense pride.
And when the time comes, I doubt I will think of my ex.
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. I write about figuring about love, relationships, and personal future. Self-confessed learner of things the hard way!