The Reality of Following your Dream

It has been a little over a month since I packed up my things, got on a plane with my sedated cat, and headed to D.C. in pursuit of what I consistently referred to as “following my dreams”.

As I have begun to settle into my life here in D.C., I have begun to question and become curious as to why I realized this “dream” over the past year, and what lead me to making some of the most drastic changes in my life. These questions and struggles I have begun to notice more soundly, lead me to this blog idea.

I did not realize that I had a dream to follow until some point last year, when I began to feel exhausted from the life I was living – though it was financially comfortable and I had all the people I Loved around me. I was exhausted, irritable, unhappy, reminiscent and resentful. I was unhappy. I was struggling to feel inspired and engaged in my work and with my friends, and had lost that feeling you have when you were a child and saw something so amazing – the “haaa!” excitement sound you make to yourself. That was the indicator to me that I needed to make a change. When the “haaa!” 4 year old excitement sound I once had, was not triggered periodically. Have you lost your “haaa!”? If you have, you know that if this sound does not come out of your mouth when something exciting happens to you – something must be missing or wrong.

Tip #1: Realizing the moment you recognize that your “haaa!” 4 year old excitement sound is gone, and appreciating it.

After a few moments of realizing that I experienced Tip #1 on multiple occasions, and was beginning to normalize it, I asked myself what it was that I needed to change. What was wrong? Why was I unhappy with such an amazing job? Amazing people in my life? I didn’t know the answer to any of those questions, but I did know that since I was young, whenever something went wrong or I was unhappy in my life, I turned to school. So thus began my efforts to return to school… which then lead to my inevitable attraction to studying the Middle East and my immortal curiosity in all things related to Arab feminism and Arab world social development. Arab feminism and Arab world social development are the sexiest words that have ever come out of my mouth. They pique my attention intellectually in a way that I cannot understand intellectually. They stir an energy in my chest that is undeniable and on full blast.

Tip #2: Let your mind wander when you ask yourself “What do I want to do when I grow up?”, and “What element or skill do I add to my job or education, regardless of what it is I am actually supposed to do?”

Whether or not my job was based around the Middle East, I always would find a Middle East/Arab spin in all my work. I could not help it.

After realizing Tip #2, the sexiness of your dream leads you to action. Which is an area that I would like to explore in my next blog. How realization leads to action. Stay tuned.

Overall, following your dream carries a heavy weight and expectation. Your friends and family become inspired and begin to recall their dreams. You start to become a better listener of other people’s stories and more empathetic and humbled by the reasons that they forfeited their dream, or did not make a life out of their dream. Following your dreams causes a tradition in your social group of oral history – people you know or do not know very well begin to share a very personal and deep side to themselves. The added element and emphasis on oral history as a way to connect with people unfolded and exposed me to the textures of emotion embodied in the universal thoughts that dreams create.

Tip #3: Listen to the people around you, and temporarily stop focusing on your dream.

Begin to notice the energy of dreams in your surroundings, listen to them, stay quiet, and learn from the stories that you are privileged to hear. Initially, when you begin to share with others that you have decided to follow your dreams, you momentarily cease as the center of your dream universe, and begin to have the opportunity to just listen to others. Stories I have heard during this phase of time are ones that I have recalled in the most difficult bouts of homesickness in D.C.

Listen to others and cease the beautiful moments of recognizing dream energy in the people around you, because following your dreams can be very lonely.