The thing about working at a school for Dreamers is that by proxy, you have to deal with your own ideals.
It’s really hard not to be reflective and pensive and a little bit self-involved when you spend all day fielding questions about your personal life, and philosophy, and exact working history. This job means that right now I spend a lot of time thinking about what precisely my own ambitions are, because, quite frankly, I have very little choice.
Also, have we met? OVER-THINK is my middle name.
The students here, the colors, question us about our dreams and our values and our past and our futures so intensely that sometimes it’s as if all the little thought hamsters that reside in my brain are sat having lunch with me. They ask the interesting but also noisily inconvenient questions like, Move to London? Where will you live? What job will you get? Aren’t you afraid? Does it make you sad to be away from your family? Do you wish you owned a house? Don’t you want a boyfriend?
They want to know everything.
They ask about my tattoos. I tell them. I say, this is a banana in a hat to remind me that as long as I believe in something, that is all that matters- even if I believe in a piece of fruit wearing clothes. I explain, this says ‘yes’ in Italian. I believe in saying yes to life, you know?
I tell them, sure, I had my heart broken once too. But I know I wouldn’t be who I am now if we’d stayed together, so I’m actually kind of pleased. I like who I am now.
I make it a point to always be as honest as possible with them all, since my most painful ‘growing up’ period came as I graduated high school and had no idea what to do next. I didn’t yet have the emotional capability to recognise that everybody does it differently.
Hell- sometimes I still don’t.
HI, DEEP-SEATED INSECURITIES ON ALL THE SOMEWHAT UNCONVENTIONAL AND NON-TRADITIONAL LIFE CHOICES I’VE MADE IN THE PAST TEN YEARS THAT MEAN I’M ELEVENTY THOUSAND STEPS BEHIND MOST FUNCTIONAL GROWN-UPS IN THE GAME OF LIFE! Please, take a seat. You’ve been standing around in the recesses of my brain for so long that you must be tired.
In fact, I openly declare that I so totally don’t have it figured out that when a seventeen year-old color came to me last week to say she had written about me for the campus website, I shuddered. Oh no, I thought. I’m about to be outed as every parent’s worst nightmare.
I read the article. And this girl- this teenager who dreams of being a doctor and speaks English with an American accent because she loves How I Met Your Mother, and who reminds me of my mum’s best friend- she’d pulled out every positive thing I’ve ever thought about and slapped me around the face with it in the biggest wake-up call a girl can have outside of an hour watching the Oprah Winfrey Network. She'd written:
They often say “there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”… and our teacher Laura has surely found her own way.
Usually people get lost when they think of happiness as a destination… Laura thinks of happiness as a mood, and she lives her life intensively saying “Yes” to it and taking every chance she gets.
Keep trying and one day you’ll be there, exactly where you were meant to be: that’s what a Color does! That’s what a Dreamer does!
There was a time when Laura was sad and she thought she would have felt the same way forever. Then she came to Italy and learnt that “the more positive you are, the more positive things happen to you”.
“Saying yes to life” is a genuine way of life because you always have to be ready for the big opportunities the universe gives you.
Never stop dreaming because a dream is the greatest strength we have.
As I finished her article my imagination exploded (as, of course, did my tear ducts.) I’m doing okay, I said to myself.
And in that moment one of the brain hamsters in the back of my mind fought kicking and screaming to the forefront of my conscious to scream, OKAY? YOU’RE A FUCKING LEGEND, GIRL, AND YOU’RE A FOOL IF YOU DON’T SEE THAT. EVEN A TEENAGER WHO DOESN’T SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE AS YOU CAN SEE IT! EVEN I, DEMENTED BRAIN HAMSTER, CAN SEE!
It was as if me had wholloped myself and I around the face, making them suddenly fall silent, look at each other sheepishly, shrug and say, truce? She is kind of awesome.
Me reached her arms out around them both so that the three parts of my self huddled together in unity, and quickly they agreed, yeah. She’s not doing too badly, in spite of herself.
And then they pulled out my dream from behind the shatter-proof glass of my mind, and started to dust it off.