May 1, 2023

Dear Journal,

Today, I am reflecting on a thought that has recently been echoing in my mind: “If you don’t follow your own dreams, then you will help someone else achieve theirs.”

This statement, at first glance, seems so simple, yet as I delve deeper, it unravels layers of profound meaning that resonate with my experiences and observations.

When I first heard these words, I found myself at a crossroads.

I often found myself working diligently to achieve the goals and aspirations of others, all the while watching my own dreams dwindle on the back burner.

This phrase struck me then, not as an accusation, but as a wake-up call.

It was a stark reminder that every moment spent in the service of someone else’s dreams is a moment potentially diverted from the pursuit of my own.

The first layer of this profound statement confronts me with the reality of my autonomy and the importance of self-direction.

We are the drivers of our destinies, and to follow our dreams, we must take the wheel and steer.

This can be daunting. The comfort of following the well-trodden paths laid out by others is enticing because it presents less risk and uncertainty. However, it comes at the cost of abandoning our unique potential and passions.

This leads me to the second layer of this statement: the concept of opportunity cost.

In economics, opportunity cost is defined as the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. Applying this to the context of dreams and aspirations, each moment spent on activities that do not contribute to our dreams is an opportunity cost—time and energy that could have been invested in our ambitions.

Of course, it’s important to note that helping others achieve their dreams isn’t inherently negative. The world thrives on collaboration and mutual support. We often find joy, growth, and fulfillment in aiding others in their quests.

However, the potential pitfall lies in losing ourselves entirely to the dreams of others, to the point where we neglect or forget our own. Therein lies the crux of the message: the call for balance between supporting others and nurturing our own dreams.

We often fall into the trap of believing that our dreams are too big, too difficult, or too impractical. We trade them in for more “realistic” objectives, typically defined by societal expectations or the desires of those around us.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take others’ advice or consider external factors; rather, it means we should ensure we’re not sacrificing our own dreams and aspirations in the process.

This brings me to the third layer: the importance of self-belief and resilience.

The path to achieving our dreams is rarely straightforward. It’s often strewn with obstacles, doubt, and failure. It’s easier to walk someone else’s path—they’ve already cleared the way, after all.

But forging our own path, although challenging, is ultimately rewarding. It’s an exercise in resilience, a test of our conviction, and an opportunity to grow.

It’s also important to realize that dreams are not a zero-sum game.

Helping someone achieve their dreams does not necessarily mean abandoning ours.

There’s a sublime beauty in finding a dream that aligns with helping others. A dream that intertwines the betterment of others with our personal growth is a dream worth pursuing. But we must always be careful not to lose our own identities and desires in the process.

Reflecting on this, I am reminded of a quote by poet Langston Hughes, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

Until tomorrow.