What do you do when your dream gives you an ultimatum? To start this, what does ultimatum even mean? Ultimatum is defined as a final proposition, condition, or demand. I never thought that I would have to decide an option opposed to a dream of mine, not once but twice. The reason for this post is for me to truly face the grief of my decisions that I made and to hopefully inspire those to know life will still continue on, no matter if your dream gives you an ultimatum.
All of us have dreams and goals that we want to accomplish, right? My dream was to work with a team of people, helping people, animals, and the planet- any of these entities separately and/or all together. My first experience with living out my dream and it giving me an ultimatum was when I was 21 years old. I was living in South Africa at the time working at an orphanage. I had put university and work on hold to change my life for the better. 3 months living in South Africa, I received a phone call from home in the United States offering me a job to oversee a few orphanages in India and Russia. Even though I was originally supposed to stay in South Africa for 9 months, I decided that the job was an extension of my dream and I needed to take it while it was being offered to me.
Little did I know that when I came back home, this job was attached to a condition. The reason why the job was offered to me was because a person involved in the company wanted to date me. I didn’t have any feelings for him and then the job was gone just as fast as you could snap your fingers. I had left South Africa, where I not only feel in love with these beautiful babies at the orphanage but I also was on a journey on how to love myself.
Fast forward a few years, my husband and I were both given an opportunity of a lifetime. We were both given jobs to work for an incredible organization in Australia. Not only was my dream coming true again but it was also coming true for my husband. Just two years prior, we had both looked at each other and said that we wanted to live in another country, help others and the planet, and experience a new culture. The jobs were too good to be true and we couldn’t pass it up.
In Australia, I was thriving in my job and friendships that were forming. I had just gotten the best work review that I had ever received in all my years of working. We lived one block away from a spectacular beach and were surrounded by beautiful scenery. There were things that I obviously missed about home in the United States but the lifestyle that was presented to us in Australia was life changing.
4 months living in Australia, our dream was not so dreamy. My husband was on a schedule that was so unhealthy and not even close to being manageable. There were times that I would look at him before bed and he would put his cell phone ringer on low just in case his phone rang late at night or really early in the morning. The anxiety that I saw built up in my husband was extraordinary. We had already been through losing loved ones, having unruly clients/bosses, buying our first house together, changing careers, graduating university later in life, and getting married but none of those times in our lives have I ever seen the stress and anxiety that my husband was displaying.
One night, my husband and I spoke about how are we going to deal with this situation that he was dealing with? I told him that I was willing to deal with the lack of us spending time together or being able to make any plans with him to be available whenever his bosses wished. When I mean available, I mean we are talking anytime, day or night. We tried that plan for a couple of weeks and it all came to a head. My husband again tried to make a schedule that was reasonable, it was not enough.
When my husband had told me that he was let go, I broke down like I had never broken down before. I remember telling him that I love you and we will figure this out. I then walked away to our bedroom and shut the door behind me. The agony that I felt inside me brewed from the very core of me. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me and I couldn’t breathe. We had sold our house, our cars, and had sold/given away most of our possessions for this job and move. We both had great jobs back in the States and had walked away from them for our dreams to come true.
I felt as though I was in a nightmare and that this couldn’t be happening. Our visas were contingent on Antonio’s employment and we had to get him a job within 60 days to stay legally in the country. The job had to be the exact same with the exact pay as well. Also, the world was thrown into a pandemic that we had never experienced before, Covid-19. On top of that my husband had just lost his father. All odds seemed to be against us.
Then to add insult to injury, I was told that my job was still secure. My dream again came with conditions. I remember thinking to myself, how could this be happening to me a second time… These were conditions that I couldn’t get past. The first condition was to date someone that I didn’t have feelings for. The second condition was to work for a place that felt that it was ok for my husband to be treated unfairly and then when he asked for help and guidance to deal with the problem, he was told to just deal with it or someone else will.
The shock and hurt that I saw my husband experience during this time broke my heart. When the job was presented to me months ago, I remember thinking that the job was tailor made for me. All my charity work, schooling, and work experience got me to this exact moment where I could say yes to this job.
My dream job gave me an ultimatum. Do I choose my husband or my dream job? What happened to my husband was unreasonable and the lack of empathy towards him was astounding. But this was my dream job… I was helping people, animals and the planet. We were finding friends that were just like us and had the same passions/ideas.
I’ll never forget when my husband looked at me with his tear filled eyes saying that he was sorry and that this was his fault. My husband never cries so this was serious. My husband knew how much this job meant to me. It was then in that moment that a lightbulb went off. The entity that gave me my dream job ended up treating my husband unfairly and unjustly. I knew that I couldn’t stand by my dream job. The conditions set were too great and my husband is the love of my life. He is unreplaceable and his love for me is undeniable.
I have to be honest and say that this happened over a year ago and it still makes me cry. The grief unfortunately takes times to heal. So what have I learned? I learned that your dream can come with conditions and an ultimatum. I learned that my husband didn’t warrant what had happened to him and I couldn’t hold it against him. I learned that the biggest issue my husband had with this situation was not what happened to him but how this was going to affect me. I learned that my love for my husband was much stronger than any dream. I learned that any dream that comes with unhealthy conditions is no dream at all.
To me, a dream can be anything. A dream can involve a job, sports, music, traveling adventures, a place to live, etc. A dream can also be something that you are involved with that you give so much of your life to and you want it to continue moving forward. Example of this could be making the cheer squad, getting that amazing job that you always wanted, moving to another country, making the team, getting that movie role, getting to the Olympics, making the band, getting into that university, getting onto that committee, etc.
You might be feeling that you have gone through what I went through and/or you are going through this right now. If this is you, just know that you are not alone. It’s also normal to grieve. I know that I have shed many tears.
At this moment in life, I believe that my life is making way for my dream to come a reality again. I’m realizing that dreams can evolve and expand. I am learning to be ok with my dream not going exactly the way that I thought or wanted it to be. It is going to take some time but the next time my dream presents itself, it’s going to be different. I’m making my heart ready for it to be different.
Lastly, if your dream gives you an ultimatum, I hope that you choose the best decision for yourself. I have come to the reality that I chose the best decision for myself even if it hurt and even if I thought that it was unfair. The greatest lesson that I have learned through all of this is that I have chosen my convictions over my dreams and I’m good with that.