By Kelly Chia, Peak Associate
Content Warning: Mild mentions of weight
“I’ve never made a vision board or a dream board before,” I think, entering the Zoom room on January 6 with two other people. I relish any opportunity to doodle, and it’s the beginning of the year anyway, so I was curious about how making a dream board would impact me. Today’s dream board session was part of an at-home activity calendar made by SFU Health and Counselling services to inspire people to tune into their creative sides.
Christy Ho, the host of today’s workshop, greets us enthusiastically. I feel immediately comfortable as we make small talk about our winter break and the things we’d done. After bonding over the anime we have both watched before, Ho explains that this would be chill and freeform, similar to how other Creative Collective activities have been. Armed with a bag of markers and pencil crayons, Ho aims her webcam down at a piece of paper to guide us through the activity.
She first instructs us to write our ideas for the dream board down, giving us five minutes of silent reflection. As I lay out all of my pencils and markers, I think of the New Year resolutions I had made for myself in past years, as well as how teachers in high school would ask us to create five year plans for the future.
As I begin writing down my ideas, I realize that it is difficult to ask myself to be vulnerable and acknowledge what goals I truly think would make me happy, not what would make me advance socially.
Ho advises that it is good to imagine the steps to take in reaching the goals we had in mind, as well as the feeling we’d have when we achieved it. For her own dream board, she sketches out the icon of Adobe Illustrator because she’s hoping to learn it.
The goals that I really wanted to have somehow either felt too unattainable or too personal for me to admit to myself. But with nobody peeking over my shoulder to look at my dream board and ask about what I had there, I relaxed into the activity.
“This is for me,” I think, smiling as I doodle myself hugging my friends after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. I thought of holding my boyfriend’s hands, and how happy I know I’d feel being able to see him regularly again. Those are the dreams that first come to mind because they are things that I am constantly reminded of.
Career-wise, I know I really want more opportunities to work in the publishing industry and expand my writing portfolio, so I draw lots of books and The Peak issues.
However, some goals are difficult to think about — especially my health goals. These are goals that without my permission have become tainted and synonymous with what they did to my body.
I remember one year, I sketched a glum version of myself next to a toned version of me. I realized that despite parroting messages of self love, I never confronted the guilt I feel about being in my own skin. This year, I tried, as Ho suggested, to think about how I wanted to feel.
I read somewhere that everything you are procrastinating can take you away from the person you want to be.This really affected me because I had spent a lot of time in my bed, ironically thinking about how much of my day I was missing. But I didn’t want to feel like that anymore.
With that in mind, I write down a 9:00 a.m. clock to signify that I want to live my mornings, not sleep through them. I doodle a version of me that is dancing happily, and a version of me driving an adorable yellow Volkswagen Beetle blasting Carly Rae Jepsen. Ho informs us that we have a minute or two left in the session. I carefully lay down my markers, staring at what I made.
The session was over, and it left me with much to think about.
The most unexpected thing about this activity is that while no one could see my dream board while I was drawing it, I had an itch to do a real version of it. I wanted to perfect it, to make it look like the collages I had seen online.
But I recalled the ways that setting “perfect” goals had failed me in the past; I always ended up letting these goals make me feel like a failure.
No matter how much I denied my own progress, here I was at this event trying to visualize a version of myself that didn’t chastise herself for the things she didn’t have. For me, that is a dream that the version of myself from the past would have been grateful to achieve.
I’m not sure I am a visual learner but having this more freeform look into myself and my dreams was a cathartic experience. Ho was such a friendly and calm host, and while I didn’t expect all the introspection that came with the workshop, I was really grateful to have a quiet space free of judgement to reflect.
I have never done a dream board and it’s difficult for me to think about my dreams without cynicism but my dream board embodied all the ways I tried to respect my dreams. While doodling, I felt how easily hope came from nonchalant strokes as I thought about the things that made me happy.
Creating a dream board for me, then, wasn’t a mental checklist of resolutions that weighed down on me but rather an illustration that made me smile and dream. Perhaps I won’t achieve everything here on my board but for the first time in a long time, I don’t think I will feel bad about it.