When I was younger, I had a long list of things that I wanted to be when I grew up. In the very beginning, I was convinced that I wanted to be a teacher or a doctor. I was very interested in science. I went from aspiring to be a scientist (after watching a movie about a scientist that makes contact with aliens) to an astronaut to a veterinarian and even a palaeontologist (after getting a palaeontologist Barbie doll). Then my fancies shifted to unconventional things like a chef or a food critic or a dancer or a singer. (And I have to admit, there is still a part of me that secretly wishes to be a huge pop-star, going on tours and performing on stage every night for millions of screaming fans). These were big dreams and yet, every time someone asked me “what would you like to be when you grow up?” I used to answer with irrefutable and unstinting confidence. Sometimes, the answer would be a shrug and a carefree “I don’t know yet!”
Today, as I am growing faster than I even realise, I know for sure what I want to do but funny thing is that I lack that confidence that I had as a child. I dream of living in a big city, of buying my own apartment on a quiet street, of working for a big newspaper or magazine or news channel. I dream big, speak enthusiastically about my plans and there are times when I can’t fall asleep because I am dizzy from the excitement. But in spite of all those day dreams and all the contemplation, the truth is that I am terrified. More than anything else, I am filled with fear and doubts about my capabilities or opportunities to make it out there in the real world. I play out negative what-if scenarios in my mind and my only solace is that everyone around me seems to be just as terrified as I am.
My peers and I are going through a very crucial point in our lives and to be honest, it is the ideal phase. It is that point in our lives when all of us – well, most of us – have made up our minds about what we want to be. Our decisions are much more mature and informed; and not only are we free from the unreasonable, mercurial childhood decisions but we are also ignorant to the harsh blows of reality that we will probably have to endure at some point ahead. The other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who wants to get into event management. In the process of describing her vision of the future, she ended up narrating a full-fledged chick-flick. Her story starts when she is the midst of organising the wedding of two of our other friends (who are currently dating) which is happening in – wait for it – London! There she bumps into a guy who is heading the rival events firm and as it turns out, he is a friend of the groom. Ta-da. The two of them are off to a rocky start but eventually, they develop a good bond. He even takes her out on her birthday. But the minute she starts falling for him, the twist in the story weaves its way in and he announces that he is engaged to another woman. She is a little sketchy on how it ends up but rest assured, he does leave his fiancé for her and she does get the happy ending she’s always wanted. And all this happens in London, no less.
See what I mean? As far-fetched as her story sounded to me, I couldn’t help but smile because that’s when I realised something. This is the perfect time for us to indulge in our extravagant fantasies, to dream like we can get anything we want. I have stupid fantasies too – I want a lake house, with a beautiful view, wooden floorings, a comfy fireplace and a large study (where the only one who is ever allowed is me). And I know that it is far from possible but at this stage of life, it doesn’t matter what really is within our reach or not. All that matters is that we have that capacity to believe that anything and everything is possible.
Imagine you are a trekker, standing at the foothills of a mountain. Looking up at the majestic spectacle and the gleaming mountain caps, a rush of adrenaline gushes through you. You would do anything to get there; that is your life’s purpose. But it isn’t easy to get there. It takes an incredible amount of will power, unmoving determination and an arduous journey. And it is only when you go closer that you see its shortcomings too, along with all its beauty. Of course, no one can deny that the sense of accomplishment and celebratory victory is an amazing feeling. The description of that success is just beyond words.
Today, where we are at is the foothill of the mountain. We are ready for the gruelling journey lying ahead of us and we are armed with swords to slay all the dragons that we encounter on the way. But what is so unique about this point of time is that all our shining, sparkly fairytales are still untainted by reality, untouched by practicality. And even though most often than not we fail to realise it this period of oblivion and hope is, indeed, the very best time of our lives.