Follow Your Dreams

So it was not too long ago that a friend of mine got into a philosophical discussion. It began with a simple exchange of questions and answers, as follows:
“Does it bother you how much I care for her?”

“She doesn’t have those feelings for you.”

“And that’s why it bothers you? That’s not really an answer.”
“Why does it bother you that I feel the way I do about her?”

“Sometimes you come off a bit strong.”

“I don’t understand. Why does that bother you?”

“You said you wanted to move on. But you are still stuck on her. As your friend, I wanted to help you move past her.”

Now this began the conversation that would lead to the question – is it stupid to go for something you will likely never achieve? To go for a dream you can likely never complete? I think I have my answer.

The first thing I ever really strove for was getting into a good college. It wasn’t necessarily my dream (although I’m happy I did it), but it was the first thing I really tried to achieve. I spent every year through high school doing relatively well, taking all the hardest courses, knocking the SAT out of the park, etc., just about everything I could do to better set myself up to get in. In the end, I was rewarded with an acceptance letter to Pomona College, one of the best colleges in the country. Then I went to college; I didn’t really know about what I cared or the dreams I wanted to achieve. I just kind of went with things and didn’t care how and why things happened around me. Things just sort of… happened. I was not an active participant in my life in a lot of ways. It was at this time I began to question what I wanted in life; the things I wanted to achieve. What was important to me and what did I want to do? I didn’t have an exact answer, but my senior year I sat down and wrote a list of things I wanted to do. It was a whole variety of things, plenty of which I don’t remember now (and that’s kind of the point, I want the things to happen at least somewhat organically). Anyway, it was around that time I graduated and was given a speech wherein the speaker discussed dreams and how they should scare us. How we should dream so big that we are terrified those dreams will never be realized. What is the point of a dream that doesn’t scare you? This all of course led me to consider my dreams.

I generated a list of a few small things that I knew I wanted; a Ford Mustang, to be a game designer, and to be with the most wonderful person in the world. I questioned how scared I was of those things, but I also wondered about how likely it would be that I achieve those things. A Mustang isn’t an overly expensive car, but as a first car it didn’t seem too likely. And if I didn’t get it early, I’d likely never get one because I’d end up with kids and you can’t drive kids around in a Mustang. It was a long shot, but at least plausible if I could save up my money and get the right job. The second thing, a foray into game design? Pretty hard. Everyone wants to design games. Everyone wants to be a designer. Therefore, my dream to get into game design? Pretty unlikely and definitely a little scary. The last one, absolute love? Near impossible. I’d contend very few people ever get to experience that in their lives, and to think I might be one of the lucky few seems a little far fetched. So, yes, that one scares me quite a bit. It’s an enormous dream.

The interesting thing is how quickly I’ve achieved the first two things. Not a year out of college I purchased my first car, a 2015 Ford Mustang. A couple months later, I got an interview with Riot Games and was soon offered a job on the play test team, balancing League of Legends and consistently working with designers. In less that 16 months, I had already knocked 2/3 of my biggest dreams out of the park. It wasn’t easy; there were definitely periods of extreme depression and periods of major setbacks, but I persevered through those problems and kept fighting for what I dreamed. People told me to give up, people told me it would likely never happen. I didn’t care; I kept fighting. I haven’t yet finished the third dream, but it’s something I spend every moment trying to achieve.

The overarching point, I think, is to discuss the value of dreams. Without dreams, what are we? If we have no goals in life, things we want to achieve, where do we derive meaning? For me, even in the bleakest of circumstances, I fought for my dreams. It gave me purpose. It gave me something to be absolutely proud to have achieved. It made my life valuable to me. So my answer to the question “Is it stupid to go for a dream you will likely never achieve?” is an absolute and emphatic no. The likelihood of the first two things wasn’t great; I did it anyway. If I had given up I wouldn’t be where I am today and wouldn’t have the things I have today. There is no dream for which it is worth giving up. I know I will find that perfect girl one day because I know how hard I fight for the things I believe in. I know it won’t be easy and I know it will be a struggle until I reach that point. But, I know it’s worth it. Dreams always are.