Monday, August 18, 2014

On dreams and goals, or a lack thereof

(Edit: Reposting from my old blog, Conversations with Dead People)

(Note: I wrote this back in July and perhaps I should have posted it right then, or perhaps no one would read it anyway. Either way, I'm back to posting and honestly, writing, if only for me, so here goes.)

My mom just got offered a job that sounds tailor-made for her. And for the past ten years she's been working a job that seems anything but. From what I know it consists of long hours, the grimy feel of hospital, medical jargon, lots of social networking and ordering people around - things she's always claimed not to like. The benefits that made her take the job in the first place have sort of become irrelevant over the years. I'd have thought she'd take up the new offer in a heartbeat, but it appears she's finding it hard to consider quitting the non-mom job. And it's funny, because dull as it may sound to my ear, she actually loves it. Would she have thought years ago she'd end up doing what she does and enjoying herself? I doubt it. But that's the thing with loves and hopes and aspirations. They change.

When I was a kid I wanted to be an artist. Because, while my sister got all the great scores and teachers' praise in school, all I excelled at was art. Sketching, drawing, cartooning, craft, you name it. My grandfather once told me when I grew up my job could be drawing pictures on greeting cards. I was quite taken by the idea, I loved making greeting cards. In high school, the love developed into a full fledged painting and art obsession and I had art grades to support it. 

I stopped considering it a career choice, though, because having lost my father somewhere along the way, being financially secure was a big concern. What's the option to go with for a doctor's daughter who knows all the icky details of pursuing medicine? Engineering. But lucky for me, I reached my lowest low - academics-wise - even before I could join a degree course and with my marks, I couldn't even have dreamt of getting in at a decent engineering college. So there I was, with no idea what to do with myself.

I ran back to my old love - art, my fall back option, as I thought it was. But no self-respecting practical person with their eyes on a secure future could just draw stuff and hope it sells. So I chose the next best thing - animation. I got admission to some course, appeared to have a good hang on the theory and basked in my teacher's compliments. Over the next couple of weeks, all the low self-esteem came tumbling back, fueled by the evidence that my so-called class was filled with lost causes such as me. Anybody who'd hoped to be a good animator or designer, and had worked for that, had been admitted to better universities. As good at my job as I could be, I'd no chance of being the cream of the crop.

Next dream: German. This was a big one. It lasted four odd years. This was where I really shone. I was the top of my class throughout the courses, and the teachers appreciated my natural talent. It felt amazing, I'd found home. German brought two distinct career choices - teaching and translation. The former sounded ridiculously non-me, the latter unimaginably dull. Still, I considered it better than the nothing I'd faced only a couple of months ago. 

When I decided to do a Bachelor's degree in English, I was discouraged in all kinds of ways. With German I had better job prospects, a German teacher was paid way more, my to-be job was almost practically fixed, I was finally good at something - it would be stupid to give that up for the hope of something better. "But it just seems like the right thing to do" was a lame response, but I stuck to my choice. 

Now, about a year after the whole affair - it has been a productive year, mind you - I am convinced I am on the right course. Years ago, if you'd told that little noodle haired kid she would be a good teacher, she'd have laughed in your face. If you'd told her she'd love teaching, love languages and literature and be as ''pretentious'' as her sister, she'd have thrown an unending tantrum, just because. Crazy - the girl who believed she had the emotional maturity of a hamster ends up blogging for over four years. Ends up, possibly, as a writer. 

I don't know what I want to do with my life - that's such a relief, saying that. The problems are far from over, but life will sort itself out as it always has.

Dreams change. Hopes change. So do you. And what you're convinced you're good at? Even that changes. You don't know yourself as well as you think you do. And you don't know what you'll like unless you try it. Marks - they don't matter. Nor do emotional problems, failures of every type, perceived shortcomings, job offers and university acceptances. Not necessarily. You decide what matters. Dreams don't always need to be chased, it's not like they're trying to get away from you. What makes you think they're out of your reach? It might be right around the corner: that thing that makes you the happiest. Or you might already be living your dream.