There are always those days that take you down for more than you're worth. The ones that take more than you thought you had inside you. I had one of those days last week. After anxiously waiting to hear back on whether or not I had moved on in a full ride scholarship to Georgia Tech--a university I've been wanting to attend to for some time--I finally received my answer: no. Sure, it was much more complicated than that. There was the "thank you for applying", the "it was a very competitive process", and of course the "we still want you to come to our school". But when it all comes down to it, I can no longer attend that school. I simply cannot afford it. And all the niceties in the world can't cover for that.
It's strange that money is what's stopping me from pursuing a dream of mine. Strange that a few green pieces of paper are a barrier for so many of us. Strange that, just a week earlier, I was advising my sister to not let money be a factor. After recently receiving a scholarship from Google, she acquired the aspiration of one day working for Google. After touring a Google headquarters stationed in Denver (compliments of the scholarship she received), it was made clear by the employees there that only people with masters in computer science land jobs at Google. Upon hearing this, my sister promptly made the decision that she would never attain her dream of working at Google. As our parents are already paying full for her undergraduate degree, she did not want to inconvenience them any further with a masters.
When my sister told me this, I nearly couldn't believe for an instant that she was my sister. How, I wonder, could she have given up on that dream so easily? How could she let money, those few green pieces of paper, be the single barrier to realizing her dream? And so early on? But, in some ways, our situations are the very same: money is our barrier. But in other ways, our situations are polar opposites: Tiffany gave up on her aspiration without even chasing it; I chased mine. Gave it the best of my blood and sweat.
And that's the key. That difference there is what changes everything. That is why so few of us ever actually achieve our dreams. We know them, we sit there every day knowing them, and yet we are never actually chasing them. It is when we try too late that money or other silly factors block us. I tried Georgia Tech and gave it my best. But I tried too late in the game. I didn't know I wanted to attend Georgia Tech until last summer. Had I known earlier, I would have figured out what I needed to do to make that dream possible, and would have been working striving for that dream all four years of high school, not just during my senior year. That's what kills me about people who know their dreams now and don't act on them. They have all the means necessary to make it happen, and yet they do nothing.
But what about those who don't? What about those who have no ultimate dream and are just going through life, waiting for something to come, something to awaken their soul. A message to those people: it's not coming. I keep thinking to myself that everything will happen the way it should, and that life will work out. All the scholarships I don't receive are just part of the path leading me to the right school and the right scholarship. But what if I'm wrong? What if life truly is a random array of events and the only events you can possibly hope to plan for are the ones you work your butt off to earn.
If that is the case, what do we wait? Why do we think if we stay in line, do all the right things, and just hope that our dream will come true, that somehow it will? Somehow we will be the lucky one who wishes on stars and 11:11's, and it comes true via those superstitious means.
I can't deny I was that person. I waited too long for inspiration to come. My freshmen year I was utterly confused and lost. I had no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. Didn't even know of Georgia Tech at the time. That may be the case for many freshmen, but why do we wait until senior year to find it? Why do we not actively start looking for it? Why do those in their late thirties or twenties or eighties without any dreams not actively start looking for one?
If I could go back to my freshmen self and ask her one thing, it'd be this: what are you waiting for?
What, really, are any of us waiting for?
Now that I have my own disappointment of money clogging dream fulfillment, it's an oddly surreal feeling. After the initial, more obvious disappointment wore off--the "I wasn't qualified enough" or the "they didn't like me enough in the interview"--all I am left with is the trail of perseverance made to make that dream possible. Meaning the acceptance letter to Georgia Tech, all the facebook pages I liked, all the long-winded emails about what a great school it is, the sites for Georgia Tech where I was supposed to declare my acceptance. The only thing I'm doing on those sites now is denying my acceptance.
If you know your dream, you know it now, what is stopping you from pursuing it? Is it money? The idea of what others will think of you? Current commitments?
I know it's easier said than done, but don't wait until a lifetime of current commitments and peer pressure and money has past to finally realize that you were waiting for nothing. There is no better day to do exactly what you want than today.