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Pursue Dreams, but Don’t Forget to Live

This time of year is always filled with mixed emotions for me. As a teacher, May is the month of graduation speeches. The future of our society stands beaming on top of a stage, proclaiming their open futures and dreams. And why shouldn’t they? They have a new world open to them with endless possibilities. It wasn’t that long ago I listened to my graduating class’ speeches. Now, about to leave my 20’s, I have seen dreams soar, demolish, and left forgotten. I have seen life throw curve balls as well as open doors never imagined during graduation.

With all the discussion of dreams, I began to realize something. No one discusses two things. One, how dedicated you must be to achieve dreams. The world will not hand it to you. You have to work. You have to maybe even bleed and cry a little. And you have to stay persistent because the world will show it’s easier to give up than to achieve. It will challenge how much you truly want that dream. 

The second thing no one discusses is what you do in the meantime. Reading blogs and author interviews this week, I have been bombarded with a recurring thought. Don’t strive for greatness, or even success. The chances are so slim in the publishing world of being a bestselling author, or having a book adapted to a movie, that it is best not to set this as the one thing that’ll bring happiness. I can see the logic in the thought. If this is the only thing that will bring happiness, then life is going to be long, difficult, and frustrating. And, at the end, maybe even unrewarding. Finding myself at the end of life with a lot of regrets and wasted effort is one of my deepest fears.

This week I also encountered an equally scary idea. What success exists outside of the pursuit of a dream? In other words, I have been pursuing the grand success of a writer for over ten years. But what else is there to my life? What else have I accomplished? I have found that the idea of getting to the end of my life with only my writing is not something I want to do. But, for me, I get wrapped up in my passion. I forget that life is about more than writing—even though my brain automatically disagrees with that statement. But, if I focus solely on my ambitions, then I can forget to cultivate friendships. I can push away opportunities to grow as a person. I can miss out on life experiences. I can forget that some things are more important.

So, my wish for all of the new graduates is to pursue their dreams; to never give up and settle for ordinary. But, most of all, do not to forget to live. Life has a lot to cherish. Goals should just be one piece in the mosaic.