Maybe our lives aren’t supposed to be ruled by one single passion forever, or one single goal that guides us like the North Star. Maybe life should be a series of adventures, moving from one dream to the next as we grow and change and discover who we are what our hearts want. Maybe we end up wanting kids and a family, maybe it’s joining the Peace Corps or getting plastic surgery. Who knows? The point is that it’s impossible to know. Ten years ago, I would hardly believe that today, I’d be standing backstage at New York Fashion Week, interviewing one of the world’s top makeup artists. I think, How could I have ever thought I wanted anything different? But I did think I wanted something different, right up until the day that I didn’t anymore.
When people ask me if I regret putting my childhood dream aside, I know that what they’re really asking is whether I feel guilty about cutting my losses so soon. After all, maybe my big break was waiting right around the corner. But in either case, the answer is that by giving up that dream, I was able to pursue things that have been more interesting and satisfying than anything I had ever imagined before. The world isn’t crying over one fewer actress in New York, and despite the occasional pang of sadness I feel when I hear “Our Time” from Merrily We Roll Along pop up on my iPod, I don’t cry about it either.
“Following your dreams” isn’t always about seeing them through all the way to their happy ending. Sometimes the end comes sooner than you thought it would. Sometimes the end of a dream isn’t the Oscar or the Nobel or the giant corner office; sometimes the end of a dream is simply the quiet moment when you admit to yourself, I’m done now. That’s not failure…that’s freedom. It’s the freedom to do other things and follow new paths, whatever and wherever they may be.