We talk a lot about dreams. We talk a lot about success. We talk a lot about the pursuit of dreams.
Do we talk about what happens when you achieve a dream?
In my last post, I wrote about pursuing dreams and the obstacles along the journey. Dreams are not always easy. Dreams are not always a smooth journey. Dreams can also shift or turn into something you would never expect. But what happens when you actually achieve your dream? What is next?
I can share a recent example of this.
When I was an undergraduate at UCONN I learned all about graduate school. I still did not know what it meant to me but I knew I wanted more than a bachelors degree. I wanted to use my education to help people. I wanted to learn. I wanted to grow. Education was the way for me to achieve that.
I finished my bachelors degree and applied to a masters in social work program at UCONN. I did not get in and I was crushed. I had to go to work and this pushed my graduate school dreams further into the future. During this time, my grandmother passed away. She was my greatest supporter and I mourned her for an entire year. When the first anniversary of her passing came (after a lot of crying) I realized that I needed to get back to my dream of pursing an education. She would have been so disappointed if I did not follow through. So I did.
I got into a Masters program in Counseling. Towards the end of that program I still felt as if my education was not complete. I applied to and entered an Educational Leadership program to work towards my doctorate.
Thirteen years after I began my college career I became a doctor.
Thirteen years. Hundreds of setbacks. Thousands of life lessons. But I achieved my goal.
A few weeks after graduation I felt a bit lost. I had thrown myself and my entire world into my school work. I forgot who I was for a while. I lost my center and it did not hit me until I graduated.
I started asking my husband (who I met when I was already finishing my doctoral studies) and friends “so what I became a doctor?” A look of shock and disbelief would appear on their faces. The typical response would be “what do you mean so what? How many people have achieved what you just did?”
The issue quickly became apparent. I reached my goal. I worked for it. It became my reality. However, throughout the process I lost a bit of myself. I did not know what this achievement meant. I needed it to have meaning. I also needed a lot of sleep after all that schooling 🙂
I shared this story with you for a few reasons.
The first is that my feelings were totally valid. It is ok that I felt a bit disappointed when my dream was achieved. I was so focused on pursing the dream I did not even stop to think about what I wanted it to mean after I achieved it.
The second is, do not stop dreaming. If you are in the middle of a dream, start thinking about the next step. Try to avoid the crash landing that I felt after graduation.
The third reason is do not forget yourself. I never stopped to think about myself during this process. I never stopped to focus on myself. I sacrificed my personal happiness for some time. Always find your center when pursuing a dream.
The fourth is celebrate along the way. I did not stop to celebrate. When I first met my husband he was surprised that I did not celebrate anything (getting a full time job, my birthday). He reminded me to celebrate everything, especially the small wins.
I hope this story helps in the pursuit of your dreams. I hope this is a reminder that even in the toughest moments, dreams are worth chasing.