It is a very sad moment when you realise that the last time you were truly happy was when you were nineteen years old. I have felt that the more I expose myself to the realities of life, and the harder that I try and chase my dreams, the more disappointed and alone I feel and become.
At seventeen years old I was very naive. I thought that the world was my oyster and that the answers to all of my dreams were just waiting for me to follow the stepping stones that I had laid out in front of me. I could see just one very simple pathway and I had every intention of hop, skip and jumping my way across the little stream with a huge smile on my face. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I believed that if I was willing to put the effort in and work really hard, that I would get there.
I wouldn’t say that I was a spoiled child. I was made to do chores and was rewarded for the chores that I did. I never had to see hardship. My parents were always really hard workers and they were really sensible with their money. If they ever had money troubles, they hid it very well. Their motto was always ‘if you try your best, that’s all we can ask for’. I guess they were the best role models I could have asked for really, and although they didn’t paint a rose tinted picture of the world for us, they made me believe that if you work hard, you will be rewarded for it.
During my A levels I studied harder than I ever did in my life. I was so sure that if I took the right subjects and focused all of my energy on my studies, that I would get into a really good university and become a really good lawyer. I was so ambitious and tenacious and so sure it was what I wanted. I sacrificed my really good social life, for History text books and spent my weekends working in competitive sales during the day and studying at my boyfriends house whilst he played on his Playstation or watched TV on Saturday nights.
I guess my first reality hit when I got my results back from my first lot of exams. Instead of the A’s that I needed to see, I was greeted with D’s, E’s and U’s. I was devastated. But despite this set back, I continued to study really hard and managed to get better results in the summer exams. But my grades were still far from what I needed to get into the universities that I had set my sights on. I suppose this is where my frustrations started. I went to look at other schools and colleges in the area and considered retaking my first year again, and continuing my studies there. However, after speaking to the universities I was looking at applying for, I was told that they wouldn’t except retake grades. I continued my studies and was still determined and ambitious as ever. My clear stepping stone pathway was already starting to falter as I had to face the reality that I would never be able to study law at Bristol University.
So just like that I changed my pathway and I changed my dream to something that was a little more realistic. Despite my frustrations with not getting into Bristol university, I decided to retake my final year again whilst working more hours at my weekend job. After a few weeks, it was clear that my stepping stones were slowly disappearing. I started focusing all of my energy into my job and left school all together, choosing to work full time and take on more responsibility in that role.
I strived in the competitive environment, and with the help and support of my manager, I managed to build more stepping stones in a different direction. I was given more and more responsibility and at nineteen years old I was in my element. I had a large network of friends from work, my social life was blooming once again and I had a great sense of who I was.
As my feet got closer and closer to solid ground, I was faced with an opportunity to move into one of the biggest stores in the country, in a management position. It was the opportunity of a life time and I would have had to have moved about 100 miles away. I began to question how my path had changed and whether this was what I wanted for myself. I realised that although it was providing me with stability, it wasn’t what I wanted. I decided to turn down the job and apply for university to study to be a journalist. I had always really enjoyed writing and travelling and I think I thought that I would enjoy that way of life. Looking back now, maybe I was compensating for the fact that my real dreams of being a lawyer had been shattered and instead of facing that reality, I created another dream.
The problem is, dreams aren’t supposed to be forced or created consciously. They are something that we feel subconsciously. And chasing a fabricated dream in a completely different direction to where your organic dreams lie is like severing a part of your livelihood and soul. The further I have chased this new ‘dream’, the further I am from my own reality. I am now lost and trapped in someone else’s dreams and I don’t even know who I am any more. The stepping stones that were once so clear, have completely disappeared and instead of a small stream, I have a raging river that keeps knocking me off of my feet. I am drowning with no idea where the shore is. I have plenty of people around me that help keep me afloat for a little while, but the longer they stay, the more confused they become themselves. I don’t need a floating aid, I need a more permanent solution where my feet are on solid ground.
But for now, I just have to keep treading water until the river calms and the stepping stones become clear again.
I guess it’s time to face reality and start chasing those dreams! x