Dreams are a fickle friend. Sometimes it makes you feel like you are on cloud nine while at other times it makes you feel like the sand under your feet is disappearing.
I will be lying if I said I have never given up on dreams. I have. Far too many times. But with each lost dream I uncovered yet another. It feels like a never ending cycle. But I am yet to find out if it's a vicious one or a virtuous one.
I do not know if I speak for the vast majority or the minority but has there ever been moments in your life where you felt like you had to do something to fulfil somebody else's dream? It could be a parent, a sibling or a grandparent. A nagging voice in your head keeps guilt tripping you. No? Just me? (I promise I am not crazy).
Well recently (well it's more like for the past 3 years) I was faced with this same dilemma. I wanted to please my family but at the same time I knew it would cost me my happiness. I was and am to some extent still stumped by this. But all of this anxiety I was experiencing got me wondering - What are dreams? When should you follow them ? and more importantly, When should you give up?
WHAT ARE DREAMS?
Now I think dreams can be anything. Something as momentary as the bag of chips (or crisps) you want or something far off in the future like a career. Dreams are in the most basic sense something your mind craves. Something you really really want. But what makes dreams tricky is that they sometimes aren’t realistic (as much as we would all like it, an inexhaustible supply of chocolate isn’t realistic…although that won’t stop me from hoping it is).
I have always felt this boiling rage whenever people tell me something is unrealistic. I can’t explain it but when someone tells me something is stupid or unrealistic thats when I want to make into a reality even more. I have had countless people tell me I shouldn’t follow my dreams and ambitions as I am too average to make them a reality.
While this is certainly something I am dealing with in my day to day life, it had me wondering why that is. After a long (and very relaxing) session of over analyzing things that probably shouldn’t need to be over analyzed, I came to a rather simple conclusion.
Before I start my little rant, a quick disclaimer - I am by no means a psychologist or a scientist and is instead just a highschooler with a lot of free time on her hands to over analyze things. So as always, take everything I say with a grain of salt. Or even better make your own theories !!
I think the reason why other people have such a hard time understanding other people's dreams and aspirations is due to the fact that they simply aren’t real enough for them.
It's kind of the same reason why some people believe in ghosts while others refuse to believe it. Some things are real to you only when you are really deeply connected to it emotionally.
We actually see this phenomenon in a more realistic sense in our day to day life. It’s referred to as “unconscious selective attention”, that means that our minds don’t necessarily process everything happening around us. There are a million different things happening around you at all times but our brain processes only a fraction of it. So think of our previous dream question in this context. Why would somebody else's mind place emotional importance to your dream? From a realistic standpoint, our brains simply don’t need to. This is also the reason why when we watch horror movies things seem too easy. Our body isn’t going into fight or flight response. So we think clearly.
This is the reason (I think) why our dreams seem unrealistic to other people, Because most of the time they will look at it from a strictly realistic view while we see our dreams through the emotional connection we have with them.
So this conveniently segways into my next question:
WHEN SHOULD YOU FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
I think it's safe to say that you should definitely follow your dreams. Like seriously. You should. Given that it doesn’t hurt anyone or anything. And I often find myself thinking about what hurting someone in this sense means. Inshort, you should follow your dreams as long as you don’t hurt yourself, anyone or anything else. Another thing to keep in mind in case of career choices is of course your future. While I do believe you can make your dreams into reality, it's also feels good knowing that you have something to fall back on but in all honesty, if you are really driven to do something then try your hardest to make that happen. A quick look at the pros and cons doesn’t hurt though. But the part about hurting someone keeps coming back to me.
For example: If you get someone black coffee when they asked you for a frappuccino then yeah...they are gonna be a little disappointed. (Although I do drink far too much black coffee for a normal human being)
But at the same time does that really hurt them? Like does it really really hurt them? Chances are no. Well unless they are allergic to coffee…
Almost all parents have concerns about their child’s future and that's perfectly normal but when the parents try and control every aspect of their child’s life and try to make them into something they are not, that’s when things get out of hand.Perhaps this is an asian thing (could be) where parents try to decide their children's career and I most definitely disagree with this. If the kids and the parents unanimously agree then yeah, it's great. But when the kid doesn’t agree then that's where things derail. It just doesn’t work.I spent much of my early life believing that I had no choice about picking who I was going to be. And I don’t want others to grow up that way.
So I do think you should follow your dreams and ambitions. And if your parents disagree or are not sure you will be able to earn a living, then sit down and talk to them. Talk to them about why you want to do something and its prospects and if you still have doubts or your parents do then a double major or a dual degree is an option. Yes it's more work but it is a wonderful opportunity to acquire a wide variety of skill sets and also it’s an amazing opportunity to learn more.
On the non academic side, the best way to see if you want to do something is to compare the pros and cons. Look into what it means to you. Also consider what it means to the people around you. Look at your circumstance and see if this is the best time for you to go forward with it.
WHEN SHOULD YOU NOT FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS?
This is where things get tricky. This is particularly hard as we often form very deep bonds with our dreams and aspirations. But at the end of the day we do need to do what is best for ourselves and others.
Here are some situations where you need to consider whether your dream really is good for you:
IT IS CAUSING YOU PHYSICAL OR MENTAL HARM : This is undoubtedly a scenario where you should definitely stop and consider your dream. Talk to others. Either family members or seek professional help. Stop and reflect on yourself. It is not weak to give up on certain dreams. It's ok. Your life is not two dimensional and doesn’t need to be confined.
IT IS CAUSING OTHERS PHYSICAL OR MENTAL HARM: Just like the last one, this is yet another instance where you should stop and consider your dreams. Talk to those close to your and then consider your dream. See if you are doing something wrong and consider how you can change the way you accomplish your dreams.
These are simply some of the most basic tips and if at any point in time you feel uncomfortable or anxious regarding anything, please do not be afraid to reach out to people you trust.
Remember that you are human and that you are loved and that you are very valuable.
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