Growing up in a brown household, it is tradition that once you have had enough mental development to put more than two words together to form a sentence, it was time to hand you three cards to choose from: doctor, lawyer or engineer. In my case, my parents didn’t like lawyers, so my options were down to the remaining two. I distinctly remember the day that I revealed that I wanted to be a doctor, that it was my dream. My father was beaming, and I think my mother almost cried ecstatically from the notion that her daughter would be following her footsteps. Back then, I was five years old and knew next to nothing. And I quickly learned that dreams change, a lot.
As a child, dreams are ephemeral and there is just something so charming about that naïve ebullience. You pick up a paintbrush and suddenly you are on your way to become the next Picasso. You make your first baking soda and vinegar volcano and in an instant, you start picturing yourself in a lab wearing a white coat and giant goggles that are too big for your head. I have dreamt it all- from doctor to archaeologist, astronaut, scientist and artist – you name it, I’ve dreamt it. At some point along the way, your dreams altering every other week stops being so charming and starts becoming a nuisance. Soon, you’re staring down at university applications and getting asked to choose a path you are expected to follow for the rest of your life. The stakes are high and so is the perplexity. You look back and all you see are scintillas of dreams that once burnt bright and have now flickered out.
I’ve been told that in the adult world, you should have it together. Your goals should be concrete so that you can focus on achieving them. Thus, at this point of your life, if you face a standstill and realise that this isn’t what you want anymore, it’s frightening. You feel like it’s too late to turn back or that the new path you wish to embark on comes at the expense of your current one and vice versa. I, for one still haven’t figured out my “true calling” and as mortified as it used to make me, I have learned to make peace with it now.
Most of us have been socialised to think that our trade is practically our religion and to spend all our attention and energy on that one particular thing. It doesn’t have to be like that. I think being interested in trying new things shows curiosity and eagerness to learn, which are great qualities to have. It’s okay to be worried. Just try dipping your toes if you don’t want to jump in headfirst. Change can be scary, but change is also where growth happens. So, go ahead and dream a little dream, or a big one, the world can wait.
Author: Protiva Iqbal
Editor: Gwendolyne Cheung
Illustrator: Chelsea Blijlevens