“You want to go to school at Harvard?!” “You want to major in what?” “Wouldn’t you rather study something more…practical?” These are all things three students at Mingo Central High School are very familiar with hearing.
“A few people have expressed concern that I may be aiming too high or taking on too much,” said sophomore Miranda Smith, who plans to tackle a double major in neuropsychology and English.
“I’m pursuing a career that most people have never even heard of and coupling that with an English degree – something most people disregard as useless,” she said.
Still, Smith keeps her head high and refuses to do anything but chase this outside-the-box dream. “Life is a series of calculated risks, and this is just the one I’ve deemed worth it.”
Fellow sophomore Courtney Slone couldn’t agree more.
“I define success as being proud of myself,” she said. “I want a college that will challenge me and make my experience better.”
For these reasons, Slone plans to work her hardest to get into the elite Harvard University. “I’m working to achieve this dream by choosing more difficult classes and making myself work even harder. I know I’ll succeed because I have support from my family, friends and teachers.”
According to Slone, that’s all she needs. The opinions of others are fairly irrelevant.
Sophomore Dylan Wellman, a future music major, understands this notion.
“Defining my life as a success would probably just be accomplishing what I want to accomplish,” he said. “So long as I can perform for people and get paid enough to live, I don’t care much about the other aspects.”
Wellman, too, recognizes that big dreams like this require a lot of effort. “I mostly prepare just by practicing and performing music – though really it’s something best done with a teacher who knows what they’re doing.”
He admitted, “I don’t really practice as much as I should. I mean there are rehearsals during school, which help out some, but I should be practicing probably daily.”
Nonetheless, knowing improvement is needed is half the battle. Chasing dreams is hard work; however, it’s work these students know is worth every ounce of sweat.
“It’s so risky and so scary. Yet, at the same time, it’s a thrilling journey,” said Smith. “I realize it won’t be easy, but the truth is nothing worth fighting for ever comes easily. It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth.”
Nevertheless, people are going to find your dreams crazy, and sometimes, others’ preconceived notions can cause people with elaborate dreams to feel uncomfortable. Not Slone.
“When people call me crazy for my goals, it makes me feel better about myself,” she said. “I tell them dreams are supposed to be crazy. That’s why it is so fun to achieve them.”
So, whether you want to be a lawyer or a zoologist, whether you want to attend your local community college or an Ivy League school, or even whether you want to attend beauty school or clown college, you dream may be met with hesitation.
“Your dreams and your actions define you. If you do what others tell you to do or let their doubts influence you, then you’re letting them define you instead,” said Smith. “As long as you’re doing something you love, there’s absolutely no chance of you ‘wasting your ability,’ regardless of what others say.
“Those of us who are doing what we want with our lives will always run into doubters and people who think they know better, but if you don’t follow your dreams, you crush your dreams. Then, eventually, you’ll just stop dreaming altogether.”
Don’t stop dreaming. Learn from the lessons – many learned the hard way – of these three admirable students, and take charge of your own life. Dream your own dreams.