2 min read


Photo by Jr Korpa / Unsplash

When I was a kid, I struggled in school, and I was called a dreamer. It wasn’t said as a compliment. 

Both my dad and my stepdad were super high achievers and to my mind the worlds of Dreamer and Achiever were polar opposites. Incompatible.

Being a Dreamer also meant feeling invisible. It’s a lonely, scary place to inhabit psychologically as a child. 

And I’ve carried that through to adulthood. At times I felt exactly like the comments on my school reports ‘so much potential, but we’re not seeing it’. 

But as an adult there isn’t a teacher or a parent to notice the unexpressed potential. Only my own self commentary. ‘I could be so much more. If only they could see me’.

Potential aptitude that isn’t expressed is like potential energy. It’s a theoretical construct - of interest only to teachers and parents in the way potential energy is of interest only to physicists. 

The real world has no interest in potentials and abstractions. Invisible things that make no impact on the world unless released.

This is the fear. The dream where you try to scream but nothing comes out. Unheard, unknowable, non-existent.

The Dreamer/Achiever dichotomy haunts me to this day. It’s destructively simple calculus: I am what I achieve. And achieving equals making stuff happen. 

The moment I fail to make stuff happen I start to slide back into Dreamer world. 

In Dreamer world I don’t exist to anyone other than myself. It is a world lived only in my head. Of ideas and abstractions. Nothing put into the world and nothing observable. 

Unseen, unseeable, invisible.

I become just a figment of my own imagination. I start fading away like the photo in Back to the Future. Erased. Like I never existed. 

It is the scariest thing I can imagine. I’m like a shark that must keep moving even while I’m asleep or I may never wake up. 

So my brain won’t let me sleep. My brain fights it like a drowning animal. NO! PLEASE! If I switch off now I may cease to exist. 

I need to rattle the bars, make a vibration in the world so there’s something to wake up to. 

What is left when all the scaffolding of my life has fallen away? The scaffolding that holds up the facade that is me. 

What is left when the persona that exists only by being observable crumbles through invisibility?

I find myself in a place where I’m still here but I don’t know what I am any more. There IS no persona, and I have indeed become all that I feared. Erased, invisible, replaced. 

My dog is barking in my face to take her for a walk. She’s saying “See me!” Because I don’t see. I don’t hear. I’m lost inside myself.

But if I want to exist I must create vibrations in the real world. I’ve been lying here too long and time is slipping away. 

I need to move something. I look at my dog. I see her. “Walk?”

She sees me and I’m still here. Let’s go for a walk.