Have you ever had that thought whilst watching some young child genius on the TV, who can recite Pi to a billion decimal places whilst playing Bach as a warm up before they cure cancer, that you’ve seriously been underachieving in your life? That your whole life up until this present point has somehow been wasted? Moreover, you feel like you were never likely to be that successful at such a young age and probably never will be; this kid is 5 and already has surpassed your life’s expectations. A depressing thought, I know, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve been having this feeling recently myself. A friend of mine just went traveling around Europe for a month. Another has an amazing internship lined up. An old school friend is engaged and just bought a house. I’m not in the least bit jealous of the last friend – the thought of a mortgage and a marriage is enough to scare the pants off me. Nevertheless, what all three of my friends have in common is that they are pursuing their respective dreams. My dreams seem permanently on hold and stagnating right now; I feel like I’m constantly waiting for them to come into fruition, appearing before me in a puff of smoke. When the opportunities do come about I chicken out – the reality is almost too much to handle and I get scared!
What I really want to do is travel but the biggest barrier for me is money. Having not worked before this summer and not receiving any money from my parents, the balance in my savings account has been sitting at a big fat zero. The job should sort this problem out but there is a small voice in my head (probably my mother’s) telling me I should be saving it for a rainy day. What if something happens? What if my laptop breaks? What if I need a little extra rent money? These are all valid concerns but they are by no means reasons to stop me! My plan was to take a study abroad year in Germany – so committed was I that I’ve been on Duolingo (almost) every day to get my German up to scratch and I’m even taking modules in the language next year. This seems to be a more stable way to travel; movement is limited to one city but I’d have accommodation for the year and I’d get to study in my own language (thank goodness! I struggle enough arguing in English – I don’t know how I’d cope in German considering I can’t even order a cup of tea yet.) But, lo, I have almost chickened out again! “Don’t I want to graduate with all my friends?” I have asked myself, “What if I become isolated and depressed again?” Yes, ok, the possibility of my mood dropping is a huge potential threat for me. So, what am I to do if I want to achieve my dream?
The answer is hard to swallow; you just have to DO IT. My Nan is a huge inspiration of mine. She’s not perfect, by far, but you cannot say she hasn’t had an exciting life. Apparently, she was set up on a date by Harrold MacMillan! In a way, she is everything I aim to be: independent, free-spirited, and adventurous. She’s been all over the world and has amazing stories to tell because of it, and the reason she was able to go out and do all these things is because she took huge risks. She leapt head-first into every situation and because of this she is able to look back with a sense of pride. Stepping outside your front door every day is a huge risk, in a sense, so why should it stop me from going further away from home? So, long story short, ignore your inhibitions (I never paid much attention to my mum’s warnings when I was little anyway), take risks, and pursue dreams at all costs.