I remember specific moments where my life had changed. The minute I bought that plane ticket to go halfway across the world; the time I chased a dream despite the many obstacles in my way; the moment I kissed that boy knowing the only two possible outcomes were happiness or heartache. I knew. In every moment I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that life would never go according to plan, and no matter how much you try to bribe your way into a better outcome, the dice have already been rolled and there’s nothing you can do but play the cards you have. I knew that they were course-altering moments and if I were in a movie, they would be the scenes that can be identified by a change in music, forcing the audience to feel one way or another. I knew.
I knew that in all the emotions I could have felt in every moment that my life had changed, the only one that pounded its way across my head, knocking into my skull time and time again to make itself known, was fear. It wasn’t the type of fear that held me back – binded at the wrists and ready to succumb to the innevitable outcome that I had no choice but to follow. Nor was it the fear that boiled my blood and left adrenaline coursing through my veins like a drug that couldn’t be stopped. It was a different kind of fear. It was fear that caused my heart to pound just a beat too fast and my mind to quiet like the world around me as it focused only on the moment I was in. It was the feeling you get when you explore a new place on your own – afraid of what could happen but curious and thrilled at the possibilities ahead. It was the moment on the track just before the gun is shot; the intensity of the musician as the conductor lifts their arms; the readiness of the actor as the curtains open in front of them. In every moment there was fear, but it was the fear of the beginning that puts everything else into action. I knew.
I knew that this fear, while not blinding or adrenaline-inducing, was one I would come to know and love because it meant my life was moving forward. While I never knew if that direction was one that would end in a triumphant roar of the audience or a defeated fall on my knees, what I did know is that I would be better off because of it. The victory would inspire me to go even further while the defeat would teach me to hold my head a little higher.
I have learned not to be afraid of being afraid – an irony that took me more time to learn than I’d like to admit. My mind has been trained into understanding that the greatest type of fear is the one you feel just moments before a change; moments before you push past the comfort zone you once set for yourself and fly into a new territory that has been waiting to be explored by you. Because the only two reasons that you can be uncomfortable with where your life is at is because you’re either staying in your comfort zone where you don’t belong, or you’re pushing past it where you’re not used to. And I would rather feel the fear of moving forward than experience the loss of standing still, and this is something I know.
It’s natural for people to change as time goes by. Their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and so many other things can change. So why does it come as such a shock when our dreams and passions that we have chased for so long start to change as well? And what do we do when we feel these changes start to take place?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to teach second grade. Now I’m going to college with plans to eventually teach at a university.
When I was in eighth grade I refused to do marching band because my heart was set on tennis. When I was a senior in high school I quit tennis so I could be drum major for marching band.
When I was younger I grew up writing nearly every day but refused to let anybody read what I wrote. Now I’ve had writing published and I write on this blog, available for the public to read.
People change, and along with these changes comes a change in dreams.
But what do you do when your dreams change? What do you do when you stop feeling passionate about what you thought was you’re main passion or your “purpose in life,” if you will?
I’ve been experiencing this for a while as I’ve been jumping around with my studies or considering different futures for myself and it’s a strange feeling. To be honest, I almost feel like a fraud. I have been diligently pursuing one future for as long as I can remember, but now that path seems worn and not as exciting and I can feel myself losing interest. I thought I had everything figured out, but now I’m questioning everything. And while sometimes I’m filled with a little bit of dread (because I’m less sure of what lies ahead) and some guilt (because I’ve jumped through too many hoops to turn around now), I have to consciously remind myself that there is nothing wrong with a change in passion or a dying dream.
We can’t fulfill every dream of ours, not because they’re unlikely or too far out of reach, but because we’re simply not meant to. Sometimes the pursuit is more important than the pursuing, and it’s that very journey that is supposed to strengthen and prepare us for the next path we are supposed to head down. I think it’s important for us to look at these changes as natural rather than scary or unexpected – if we can openly accept changes in our personality or who we are, we should also openly accept changes in what we want out of life. We smile and nod our heads encouragingly as children tell us about their dreams of becoming doctors or rock-stars or spacemen while thinking to ourselves “awe, how cute!” while knowing full well they’ll probably change their mind. We not only accept children changing their dreams but we fully expect it, so why does it feel harder to embrace that same mentality for ourselves as we get older? After all, aren’t we still growing and learning and changing?
In the same way that not every star can live forever, neither can every dream. The dying isn’t bad, it just opens up space for something new to shine.
I’ve come to learn that we have a lot more control over our life than we think. Sure, we can’t control the choices or actions of others. Yes, the workings of the world around us are out of our hands. But we control our actions and our perceptions, and that’s a lot.
So, if you want to do something, do it. Maybe it will take time and hard work, but it can be done if you prioritize it and try.
If you want to be someone, be them. I don’t mean someone else, but merely a better version of yourself. The only one standing between who you are and who you want to be is you.
If you want to accomplish your dreams, keep pursuing them no matter how hard it gets or how crazy people think you are. You must be fearless in your pursuit.
Choose to be fearless.
Choose to be happy.
Choose to be you.
It’s like the wise Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”