The decade that was has flitted like a tempest that left a riot of both blessings and losses in its wake. Time and again I was reminded of our reality: it’s a world where it’s sometimes necessary for personal goals to be pushed in the back burner, a world where we must learn to earn our own peace as it constantly dances to the dissonance of broken dreams, deadlines, and traffic jams. It’s become common for our daily fuel to consist of extra-strong caffeine, silent prayers, and the relentless determination to put food on the table.
Admittedly, there are some days when it would feel as if it’s a sin to even think about our personal dreams from a long, long time ago. See, in kindergarten, they asked us what we want to be when we grow up, and the eager answers would range from teachers to astronauts, from scientists to Presidents. Today, these kids? We often quip that we could’ve just said we want to be happy.
It’s not that we’ve thrown away our ambitions as we age—it’s our habit to tell ourselves we’ve just taken a temporary rain check, but we’re not entirely sure when to go back. It’s not even that we’re not happy to sacrifice what we want for the sake of our loved ones—in fact, nothing can curl our lips into the most genuine of smiles than the thought of being able to provide for our families. But the world has grown harsher over the years, and it simply tells us that, “There aren’t no easy happy-ever-afters here, Working Class kid. This is what you prioritize.”
And in all those years, this I retorted: challenge accepted. I’m not backing down. I’m going to strive, and I’m going to survive. There are days when I lost sight of my purpose, sure; there are days when my knees buckled under the weight of all the lives I thought I’d be living by now. There are moments made of tears and held-in screams and gloom that held me captive in solitude, and I learned to accept that this is okay (even healthy). I promised to bounce back, and I did. I believe there will be times teeming with hope and light, and I will move forward again to work the long, hard slogs.
In a quiet corner of my head, I acknowledged, too, that there are days when I will not have to ignore the knock of the young dreamer in my heart.
I’ve always told myself that thriving in adulthood would entail keeping my inner child alive, and this remains to be true. To fellow dreamers: listen to the whispers of that kid. Do what the hummingbird beats in your chest tell you—write that poem, sing that song, sway into those dance steps. Know that aspirations don’t always festoon the skies like stars, that sometimes they are embedded deep beneath layers upon layers of our obligations to the world. Know, too, that visions of both loft and depth require a steadfast soul and a patient heart.
Responsibilities would always ride roughshod over our dreams, but this doesn’t mean our ears should always fall deaf on our heart’s desires. Bring them to life bit by hard-won bit, in the margins of what we do for others. Do this for ourselves.
For we may not live fairytale-fodder lives even if we pursue this, but we can always go out there—complete with an armor and weapon of faith—and slay our self-made dragons whatever form they may come today.
Here’s to the new decade!