Twenty one years old and not very focused, that is how some people would describe me perhaps, when I am not around. But before I start to feel upset about being labelled unfocused in life, I must wonder how many people are actually sure about what they want to achieve?
Most of us, including myself, tend to figure things out as we go. When relatives ask me, “So what do you want to do?” I smile and reply, “You know, get a better job or something.”
Considering how incredibly specific I am while answering, my relative thinks I’m lying to him, in order to keep my preparations a secret. If only.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have dreams of my own, things that I would love to be able to do. But in all honesty, several of these desires might come across as unreal or whimsical.
I mix it up sometimes and say “I want to be rich.” This declaration usually catches people of guard, especially if they are elderly and not used to such candid proclamations.
“You should not run after money,” they chide at me and I try to look abashed. “It will make you unhappy.”
But then when I say “I want to be happy”, people say “My goodness, how unreal and cheesy for you to say it. Everyone wants to be happy, but not everyone is are they?”
I wonder if I tell them, just for a laugh, I want to be an Playboy magazine model, I will receive a “My dear it is better you get married.” in return.
One of my friends was always sure she wanted to be a singer, even on the days she didn’t get the chords right. I admire her for her tenacity, but more for the firmness with which she clung to her belief. She had no qualms about getting a bad grade in school, when people like me would easily have been upset.
“It doesn’t matter, as long as I pass.” she would say. “After all when my songs top the charts, no one will ask for my transcripts.”
I sometimes wonder if I could be as confident as her about my own dreams. Self doubts plague me whenever I try to take a major step towards what I want to achieve. Sometimes I prevail over the negativity and the rewards are sweet, but sometimes I don’t.
I have never been terribly vocal about my dreams, I sort of keep them vague and hidden, thinking of it as my little secret. It is probably because I don’t want to be judged before I achieve them.
You’re still young, you’ve still got time, so you can forget about it for now. This is what I keep telling myself, only to realise that I simply can’t forget. Thoughts float about in my brain, and every time I have a free moment, uncertainties creep up on me.
What if you really have no dreams after all? And even if you do what if you have no talent to achieve it? What if you’re not working hard enough and what if…(please no)…you are too late?
It took me a long time to realise that this policy of procrastination towards my own dreams, was a very very bad idea and that such negative thoughts are detrimental to my long term plans.
I have a desire to publish a novel one day, among other things. But I have never told anyone this. It is perhaps because I am afraid of being judged. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that people are going to judge me anyway. They might as well talk about it now. I realise that no matter what other people’s opinions are of me, it is only mine that matters.
“Do you think you have it in you?” I ask myself. “Hell yes.” I say out loud. I don’t know if my dreams will come true, but I will not throw away a chance at trying, just because I am afraid.
The first step towards your dream is to embrace it, to not be embarrassed of it, to treat it as your own flesh and blood even when things start getting rough. After all you can’t enjoy the flowers without a little sunshine, rain and mud.
Setbacks are unavoidable, but if your belief is strong enough, you’ll learn from it and move on, never wavering from your goal.
That is why it is okay to tell people what you really want in life, if and only if you are sure that their opinions won’t affect your ability to achieve it.
“I want to be a doctor.” one of my friends had once bravely said.
“With that memory of yours? You’ll be thrown out of practise!” laughed off another friend. She meant it as a joke, but to someone who is serious about their dream, such comments may be hurtful. Not everyone is considerate and one should be wary of baring one’s soul too easily.
“Of course you will.” her sister had said. “You are very intelligent.”
It is important not to get carried away by praise or criticism. No dream can be achieved without hard work, dedication and self belief.
Here’s a toast to working towards achieving our goals, to living the life we want. No one else can do it for us, and nor would we want them to.
Remember when you feel like giving up, as Nemo says,
Just keep swimming.
You will get there one day. I have faith in you.