Dreams: a Memoir

 By Cal Ender

         Dreams—everyone has them. Whether they be about being the next Elon Musk and owning Tesla or being a teacher in a small town, big or small, everyone has them, and over and over, I've been asked, “Cal Ender, what are your dreams?” and over and over I've told them about my dream to be a therapist or a doctor or foster kids in times of need (with the way this economy is, that probably couldn't even happen) because it's better than saying "Yeah, I'm a loser who has no idea what I want to do'' when in reality, I shouldn't have to know, I'm thirteen-year-old girl whose biggest problem in life is waiting on Bridgerton season three to come out (not true at all, but for the sake of this, it is. Also, you should totally watch Bridgerton; it's so good.) Nothing about that screams, “I have my life aspirations set out.”     Stepping away from all that pre-teen angst, I would say my biggest dream right now is fitting in. And I'm 100% sure this dream will change as I get older and more mature, but right now, fitting in with my peers seems more like a need than a want. I've honestly never felt wanted around my peers. I was a target for bullying from 2nd to 4th grade, and when I got to Sparta, sure, the people here weren’t openly mean, but there was a clear division, and I was on the side, being too weird for anyone, so I embraced that and became the “annoying weird girl,” opting to force that title onto myself, than have be it forced on me.      Over the summer of 2023, I had a mental reset. The feeling of being wanted lessened. Was it still there? Of course, a life-long insecurity isn't going to go away after 3 months, but it was after that that I learned to keep a balance between being myself and being the public persona I'm still known as. Almost a full school year later, there are times when I forget how to have that balance and become overly extroverted or overly introverted. I'm not saying this to gain sympathy or get pity points (I've heard that it works on college essays, though). I'm saying this to explain my dream in a way that I wouldn't be seen as every other person or be off-topic, because I would love to be every other person. The feeling of being able to talk to people and worry less about whether they think I talk to friends too much or if I am masking properly (I really hate being special-ed sometimes) and being able to worry more about how my new friends and my others would react to each other would be refreshing.     And with all this worry and insecurities comes with added fantasizing about what would happen if or when I become "normal." Will I be the most popular person in school, or will I be the person you walk by in the hallway and think nothing about? There is a quote from the movie I can't remember, but it goes something like “My dreams are just dreams,” and I feel that this applies to me. My dream of fitting in will never happen, and for that, my dream will always be just that.

A dream.