We all came to college with dreams. That’s why we’re at college, to fulfill our dreams. Whether it be making a difference in our own lives, or making a difference in other people’s, we all went to college with a particular end goal. Some of us are gradually working our way towards those dreams, and others have found that all their dreams are dead.
And it’s awful, it really is. Because at this age, when you wake up and realize everything you ever wanted has crumbled, fallen away from your fingertips, just out of reach, it’s usually your own damn fault.
Some of us came to school and were overwhelmed by the freedom of it all. No parents? Great! We don’t have to ask anyone’s permission, we don’t have a curfew and we’re living on our own terms. And it really is the most wonderful feeling in the world, living for yourself. But sometimes, as humans (as young humans), we always think we have more leash than what we actually do. It’s okay, I think we’ve all been there at one point, lost in the moment.
Some of us sort of wander back on track, while others lose sight of everything they once hoped to accomplish. Maybe they partied too much, got too into the party scene and let it consume their free time. They traded in the school work for the alcohol and watched their grades slowly slip away from them, beyond saving. Maybe they just felt lost in the world of academia, maybe they realized this wasn’t what they actually wanted to do with their lives, and stepped away from it all to find themselves, only to realize that they had no dreams.
It does happen and I’ve watched it happen to many people I know. Only when it happens, nobody ever wants to admit it’s their own fault. They’ll blame professors, their friends, their parents; they’ll blame everyone for not being supportive enough. They’ll blame the financial aid office or their advisors, but not one has ever stepped up to the plate and admitted it was their own fault.
In the last two years, I’ve watched my own dreams crumbled around me. I’ve watched as I lost the things I thought I wanted, and I’ve watched as things I dreamed about for years went right down the drain. And it was my fault, but not by any choice.
Mine was a result of health issues. My dreams were stolen, but it was still my body, so it was still my fault. And I was upset for a very long time. I blamed everyone I had ever encountered for my plight. Then I started using it as an excuse for why my grades weren’t great, why I didn’t intend to keep on with my original goal of obtaining a PhD.
What did I do to put myself back on track? What can you do? Like I said, we all had dreams. And sometimes we screw that up for ourselves, and we don’t ever bother trying to find new dreams. But that’s it. That’s the secret that I’m going to share with you. No matter what, the flames will keep getting higher, and you’ll find yourself in a fiery vortex of regret and maybe even shame. That’s okay, but you have to get back up. Walk through the fire and rebuild from there. If it’s a personality flaw that’s put you where you are, change. Work to better yourself.
Start dreaming again, set new goals. Go small first, day by day, and then slowly build them bigger. Week by week. Start going bigger until you have new dreams to achieve. Maybe it isn’t career oriented like you had planned, but you’ll get there again someday. Be the person you’ve always wanted to be, do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Dream.
I call it “the Gatsby Complex.” If you live for one thing and one thing only, whether it be your partner or your job, if you only have one dream, what happens next? What happens when it’s unattainable, or when you actually get it? You’ll be miserable, either way you look at it, because that’s the only thing you’ve ever wanted out of life. People change as they age and there is absolutely no reason that your goals shouldn’t, too. So as you change as a person, change the things around you. Expand on them, build them to something worthy of you. And if you find that you aren’t worthy of your dreams? Expand on yourself, build yourself up.
So when you wake up and find that everything you’ve ever wanted is gone from you, and it’s your own fault, change it. You’re in control of your own life. Take responsibility for your mistakes, take charge of making yourself happy. Don’t rely on others for it.
A man can change his stars, he just has to have the courage to do so.
This article was originally published in the Spectator, Edinboro University’s student newspaper. It has been backdated properly.