My ability to dream was granted by previous generations. I can afford my ambitions because of the people who came before me and didn’t have that luxury.
Last summer, I was having a conversation with my grandmother and she confessed she used to want to be a fashion designer. The way it used to work in France, you had to be accepted at the Beaux Arts School. Needless to say, she didn’t get the opportunity. Her father had been opposed to it, but her mother tried to help her as best she could, gathering information and helping her build a portfolio. What stopped her then? Her father, my great grand father, passed away shortly after she’d expressed her plan. Suddenly, her life changed. At sixteen, she was now expected to grow up and start contributing to household expenses, and with that dose of reality, her dreams had to be relinquished. Instead of being a designer, she got a job doing secretarial work. As she told her story, my grandma expressed how much she had hated that job, how stuck she’d felt, how boring her life had appeared, and more so, disenchanting. Listening to her, I felt my heart tighten for the dream she’d never had the possibility to pursue; my own dreams appeared to me in a different light.
It’s not true that everyone gets their fairytale ending. People don’t always get what they want. People don’t always get what they wish for.
It became clear that my dreams, my ability to have them, to pursue them, has been conferred to me by the dreams that were renounced by others before me. Without their sacrifice in doing what was required by circumstances, I would have never had the freedoms I for so long took for granted. But my dreams weren’t free and they stem from a sacred place, the place in time when previous generations decided they would give up their desires to offer a better future to their descendants.
Today, I realize that I’m not allowed to squander potential, that I don’t get to waste what I’ve been given; I’ve taken note of how precious it all is, how luck can turn in an instant and not ask you about what it is that you want.