Growing up, there was only one thing I wanted to be. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t just what I wanted to be, it was what I thought I actually would be. I woke up thinking about it and went to sleep so that I could dream about it. I envisioned how events would transpire, who my teammates would be and the position I would play. If you know anything about me, you know where I’m headed. In those dreams, be them the day or night variety, I was at Fenway Park in front of the home crowd. Doing what I loved most in the world to do, playing baseball. I loved the game and I was decent enough at it that to me, those dreams didn’t seem all that far fetched.
And yet to others, I wasn’t dreaming about what the future would bring for me but rather fantasizing about what it must be like for others. Let’s set the scene for a conversation that made a world of difference. It was 2000 and I was a junior in High School. A group of friends (in this case all guys) were standing around talking about what they will some day do with their life, most of which had one thing or another to do with sports or what we each enjoyed.
Side note: I may be remembering the scene slightly different than it actually happened. Unlike my English class with Mr. Martin, I don’t remember the surrounding details of this conversation, only what was said. That’s what stuck with me, nothing else.
When it was my turn, it didn’t need to be said. Everyone knew I wanted to be a professional baseball player. And yet, it always felt good to say, so I said it. Again, no one was surprised but this time, I got a response. “Ok. Well that’s not going to happen. So what do you really want to be?”. I was at a loss for words. It was as though I had just told someone my name was Josh and they said, “no it’s not”. I eventually concluded with a simple “whatever” and we moved on.
Only, I didn’t move on. Where before I had dreamt about becoming a baseball player, now I laid awake agonizing that someone out there actually doubted whether I could become one. It started to fuel me, both on the field and off. It made me want to prove that person wrong, no matter what it took. It didn’t go as far to become an obsession, but it was certainly something I always had in the back of my mind.
Fast forward 15 years to the present. I am not a professional baseball player. And while there may be an “I told you so” in there, that’s not how I see it. As a matter of fact, give me a few months to train and I think I could still be an asset to the Red Sox. Especially this year.
Let’s pause and live it that moment for a minute…
Now batting, number 21, short stop, Josh Verrill. Queue the music. Maybe something by Aloe Blacc.
Ok, perhaps that ship has sailed. But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to talk about dreams and more importantly, big dreams. See, the thing for me was that playing baseball for the Red Sox wasn’t something I fantasized about and said “I know it will never happen, but it would be so cool if it did”. No sir. I said, “I can’t wait for it to happen”. Because I knew it would, it was only a matter of time. There’s a difference between fantasies and dreams. For me, dreams are a representation of what will be, whereas I have zero expectation of fantasies becoming reality. Take for instance the game of “if I won the lottery”. I love to play that game, but I never play the lottery. It’s statistically a fantasy. I’ve never dreamt of winning the lottery. I’d rather dream it and earn it.
The real lesson for me came when I realized coming out of high school that I had a decision to make. A decision that may affect the ability for me to realize that dream I’d held onto for so long. In truth, it was a tough time for me. Baseball, school, girlfriend, independence, Mizzou. So many choices to make. As I worked my way through it, I realized that there were other things in life that would excite me just as much, and they were just as grand. So I shifted my sights. From the infield to the corner office. From having fans to having customers. From winning a world series to winning a series A. From impacting the city of Boston, to changing the world.
And that gets us to the point of this post and a lesson I will teach my daughter early in life. No matter what you dream, dream big. Reach for the stars and no matter what, always believe you’ll touch them some day. Although that specific dream may change over time, the belief you develop in yourself to get there, will never subside. While others may see your success in life as luck, you’ll see it as those dreams starting to come true. And with so much more on the horizon.
So dream big, because there’s no one else who can dream for you. And let the critics in, listen to what they say and let it fuel you.
P.S. Now seems like as good a time as ever to thank that friend from long ago. To this day, he remains a great friend of mine. He knows who he is. In all sincerity, thank you. When the going got tough, many times you helped lift me up, without even knowing you were doing it.
So here’s to some day owning the Red Sox. :-)