I am a firm believer in having dreams. Dreams inspire you and keep you motivated. When one is stuck in a dead-end job or the career prospects don’t seem too bright, its one’s dreams for a better future that keep one motivated to keep on applying oneself, sending out CVs, hoping that there is a silver lining behind this hopeless cloud.
In addition to dreams, I am also a firm believer in prayer. One may realize his or her dreams by not praying as well, but I believe prayers accelerate the realization of that dream. To use a cheesy quote from Paulo Coelho’s book, when you pray for something “all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
I am not recommending just having dreams and praying for it without actually making any efforts to realize it. The chronology would be to dream for a higher goal, work hard towards and pray to God to help you in realizing it.
In fact the first dream that I worked very hard for and prayed a lot for, I didn’t realize. I wanted to get into a particular program in academia, had worked very hard for it and prayed night and day for it. But due to some circumstances that I wish not to dwell upon right now, I didn’t get IN. I was heartbroken. I had done everything right, everything a person is supposed to do in terms of hard work, and yet the dream was taken away from me. Eventually I opted for a different program or rather dragged myself to it. My whole life and career trajectory changed because of it.
The people I had shared those dreams with were going to realize theirs and I had to conjure up a new one. I had stopped dreaming and stopped praying. Me and my friends started moving apart.
7 years down the road, I was struck with wanderlust. There was a country that I wanted to visit since I was kid as I had heard exotic stories about it and watching an ad by tourism authority of that country on TV rekindled my spirit. I had started dreaming about visiting that country. I called up my earlier friends if they wanted to go on this journey with me. Unfortunately, I knew it in my heart of hearts but realized it then, we had moved very far apart. Their dreams were not similar to mine anymore.
So I got in touch with my new friends with whom I didn’t share any dream with, that if they are willing to dream about this journey with me. You have to realize that this all seemed like an illusion then because we were new in our jobs, our salaries was enough to meet monthly expenses and nothing more. Though they were skeptical as it sounded unrealistic, they still agreed to dream with me.
I had found God again. We started planning our trip. Internet wasn’t up to speed then so it meant going to old book stores and finding decade old dusty travel guides wherein the information would be uselessly outdated. Our plan was to do a shoe-string trip. To execute such a drip, one needs to have faith especially in one is coming from a third world country. It took us two years to plan that 15 days backpacking trip. I know its a very long time for planning such a short trip but this is the time we had most fun. But most of all, we all came close together as all of us shared one particular dream. I prayed and prayed. When the dream was finally realized, almost a decade after my last dream was shattered, it seemed that God had finally found me.
After that I wasn’t afraid to dream again. Next one was to study in an Ivy League school. According to my colleagues, my face used to be beaming at work all the time. I should have been dreaming about career progression but I was dreaming about studying abroad yet the career progression happened anyway. I collected accolades and got promotions in my job despite the fact my dream at the time was something else.
I studied hard for GMAT. I searched the web and newspapers for scholarships. There wasn’t a scholarship that I was eligible for and I didn’t apply for. I started praying again. However, the scholarships didn’t come through. It wasn’t that I didn’t qualify for them, I was shortlisted for them and in a few cases I was approved for them. But since all the paper work rested with local government bureaucracy, they delayed it and I lost almost 3 scholarships in 2 years that was supposed to be fully paid for by foreign governments. But I kept on trying. I was wait-listed for another government scholarship. They asked me to seek admission in case I get the scholarship money. I applied only to one school and lo behold, I get the admission. Next day, I get reply from the scholarship committee that I couldn’t get the scholarship money.
But I kept praying. Now it was up to me to arrange funding for the study. With my measly third world salary, one year tuition at the school was equivalent to 60 months salary. There was no way I had access to that kind of money. I wrote to various sources (subject for a different post) but all came back empty handed. Luckily I was able to secure a loan in that country from a commercial bank due to their relationship with the school. Finally! I was going to realize my next dream. However, it was never in my dream that I will be under huge amount of student debt but who cared. Sometimes you have to pay a price to achieve your dreams. I paid off the loan in full with interest 2 years after graduation.
Four years down the line, wanderlust struck again to do Europe backpacking tour. This one need not be a shoe string one as Ivy League education meant I was making better money. But having settled down with wife and two little kids meant that rough and tough trip was out of question. I had traveled to Europe with the family and it had been good fun but it was relatively luxurious trip with lots of rest and activities suited for a family with young kids. I wanted to do the adrenaline junkie, rushing from one place to next, seeing the maximum in the minimum time.
First things first, I incorporated a request for Euro trip in my prayers. Next I talked to my friends with whom I traveled earlier if they want to share one more dream. Again they were skeptical as they themselves had settled down with their families. But they say lets think about it.
I started beaming again. Started doing well in my job which was badly affected since the financial crisis. The projects and people I was looking after started delivering improving results. One and half year after we talked, my friends said lets do it. So after six months of planning and sharing our aspirations of how this trip should look like over emails (all of us live in different cities now) we made the 3 week rough and tough backpacking 23 day Euro trip two months ago. We were close before but we came closer after this trip.
Sometimes I think that the first dream that I didn’t realize had actually turned out better for me. We say if your prayers aren’t answered, God has something better planned for you. Well in this case, it turned out right. It allowed me to dream multiple dreams and have all of them realized meanwhile also giving me the best friends anyone could ask for who share your dreams, travels and travails.
Now I need another dream. I am thinking another Ivy League degree. Any ideas?