That’s a common motto, right? “You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it!” It’s a cliche, however true it may be.
Somewhere along the line, most of us lose our ability to dream big. Or rather, most of us have our dreams snatched away from us. Our very parents who encourage us at an earlier age are oftentimes our most prominent critics. “You want to study that? What in the world are you going to do with a degree in that?” Perhaps they have our best interests in mind, but the results can be devastating.
My mother, for example, was a gifted artist to the point where she earned a scholarship her senior year of high school to attend an art institute. Her parents convinced her not to become an art student and instead pursued a career in teaching. Long story short, she is not currently a full-time teacher and her passions have been pushed aside to the back burner.
I am in no way trying to indicate that changing her mind about her studies led to where she is, since I know art students have a difficult time as well, but rather, I’m stating that a decision that seemed more suitable to her parents has not only robbed her of her artistic passion, but has not yielded financial stability either.
I’ve had several dreams throughout my life. As a child, I spent my earliest years hoping to one day become a paleontologist. This dream was fueled largely by a dinosaur obsession which was only fed by multiple trips to movie theaters to view Jurassic Park as a two-year-old. What happened to that dream you ask? (Maybe you didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway) As I got older, my mother disliked my dinosaur-mindedness and, combined with the occasional ridicule from my classmates, forced me out of the phase.
Then I decided “hey, the ocean is a pretty cool place, and all those animals interest me. How about I become an oceanographer?” So now I’m a fifth-grader, pondering all the sciencey stuff that comes with wanting to study the oceans.
That lasted two years.
Before I left middle school, I’d considered being an author, a comic strip artist, a teacher, and several other things. In high school, I slowed my role a bit. I was undecided until the end of junior year (which is a pretty scary place to be when college applications and all that jazz start working their way into your life). I applied to the local college as a criminal justice major, just because I thought being a crime scene investigator would be pretty fun. But thanks to a psychology class my senior year, I found my true calling: studying the mind and using that knowledge to help people. I was already a youth leader at my church’s youth group, and I genuinely enjoyed being around the teens and being a person they came to for advice.
Then came 2011, where I learned I had a knack for learning languages. Growing bilingual certainly helped that skill, but as it dawned on me that I was more proficient in this area than most, I decided that becoming a translator or interpreter would a dream job. Has that changed? Well, honestly, it has to an extent. Do I still find languages fascinating and nerd out whenever I hear a foreign language being uttered by some tourists nearby? Absolutely. Do I still want to translate? I’d love to. However, life takes many turns from the time you’re in kindergarten to the time you’re twenty-three; passions spark and fizzle out, ideas come and go, opportunities present themselves.
Now in 2014, I am sure of only one thing: I want to provide for my future family. Do I still dream of greatness? Of course. I’ve begun to write fiction and have discovered a great love for it. I also have a great affinity for playing music and would love to continue utilizing that skill for the rest of my life. I enjoy photography. I love people. Will these dreams get me anywhere? Will I ever be a part of a grand musical act, or an accomplished writer? I have no clue. But you know what? I’m not giving up on my dreams. I refuse to settle for anything less than my passions. So wherever you are in life, take it from this Miami boy: your dreams are worth pursuing, no matter what anyone tells you.
From Germany, with love.