“Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.” ~ Dr. Dale E. Turner
On February 6th, 2009, I landed in Toronto to start a new chapter of my life… I call this date my Canada-versary and celebrate the occasion each year in a meaningful way. This post is how I am choosing to mark it this year.
As I took stock of what I have accomplished so far and the challenges I have encountered and overcome, I felt it would be a great time to take this opportunity to let you in on the main reason why I have not been writing to you, my dear readers, for a while now, and why I have been less present on social media in recent months. I have embarked on a new, demanding, challenging and exciting journey: I am working toward becoming a lawyer!
There is something to be said about not sharing our every dreams with the world because they can be judged or, worse, stolen. For many, it feels like jinxing themselves and inviting trouble by letting people – loved ones and strangers – know what they are up to. I can see that if you are working on a business idea and share it with the wrong person, in too much detail. You might turn around and see that same person launching a very similar business ahead of you and getting the credit and glory that come with it, leaving you with the bitter taste of betrayal and theft as a souvenir all over your mouth. You might get laughed at and be told that whatever you are doing will never work. That can and does happen. Maybe it has happened to some of you and I absolutely empathize. As painful as these experiences are, they say nothing about you and a lot about the people who mocked you, dismissed you, stole from you and/or betrayed you.
Let them work on themselves, if they so choose. What it means is that, yes, we have to be very strategic about what we share and how much we share, but we also have to reevaluate the relationship we have with those we choose to share with, if we fear what will happen once they know about our plans. The energy you bring with you and put into your work is precious, and so is the energy you surround yourself with.
The other side of it is how secure you are in yourself and the things you decide to share. Self-doubt will have you see threats where none exist and will have you fold your dreams before you can even start working on them. In previous chapters of my life, I was filled with self-doubt and wouldn’t allow myself to dream, let alone speak these dreams out loud. I did not think I deserved anything nice and those dreams were for people who were worthy. I have come a long way, but I still know what that feeling is like and if that is you right now, know that I understand. Know, also, that it doesn’t have to be that way and you can, with work and time, change that narrative and tell yourself a different story about yourself. I did it and so can you.
There is also something to be said about giving life to your dreams by speaking them into existence out loud and sharing them with others. You might help others by inspiring them, sharing tips and being real about the challenges you face. You also help yourself by becoming accountable not just to yourself but to those you shared the dream with. Accountability can be a scary word and it’s pressure not everybody wants to deal with, but if you spin it as something that can help you stay on track, like an accountability partner accompanying you on a fitness journey would, it becomes one of the best ways to stay encouraged and remind yourself that you are not alone. When I started this blog, I committed to sharing my story with you and to being honest, real with myself and with you. This is why I have decided to also share this with you.
Fear is often something that stops people from sharing their goals and dreams, especially the fear of failure. What if you tell the world and it doesn’t work out the way you wanted? Would you be devastated, angry, upset, concerned about what other people might think, ashamed? All of these things, maybe? We have all encountered rejection and felt some of the emotions I have mentioned. I know I have. What I have learned, however, is that as much as the rejection hurt in the moment (however long that moment was), it was a redirection and a protection. I didn’t always see it immediately but it always became clear as I kept moving forward and made adjustments. As for what other people might say, as someone who generally doesn’t care about that (again, that is something I have had to learn) I know that it is none of my business. Some people will be happy to see you fall and it might hurt, especially if they are in your circle, but again, it says a lot about them and nothing about you. Let them deal with their venom and the insecurities this venom likely comes from, and steer clear of them and their energy. There will be a lot more people who will be disappointed for you, because they genuinely care about you and want to see you succeed. They are part of the village each of us needs in order to grow and make it through life. Use their energy to soothe your wounds and pick yourself back up. When you make it, whatever “making it” means to you, you will be more concerned about making the latter right than proving the former wrong. You will see. My village is growing by the day and as you start sharing your goals with others, you will see yours grow, too. A lot of people want to see you win. I promise you that.
Growing up, the majority of adults in my life, at home, school and beyond, sold me the idea of life as a straight line. My life has been anything but, and in hindsight, very few of theirs were. The difference is that many of them saw deviations from the straight line and the norms of society as failures and things to avoid. They warned us about these things. I did not plan nor foresee the curves and twists as I went from a teenager to a grown woman but I have learned to embrace them. And I welcome them. They made me who I am today and have brought me to this point where I am now on the road to law school as a Black female mature and disabled applicant. Although the only thing that should ultimately matter is that I am a law school applicant, a big part of my story and a big reason why I feel it is important to share that with you is that I am doing it at as a 40-year-old Black woman and with physical limitations.
When I last graduated, in 2005, from a French university, I had already started learning to adapt to life with chronic pain, but I was in an academic system I was very familiar with and I had not lived as much life. Today, with a lot more miles on my engine, more complex physical ailments to deal with and over a decade removed from the student life, I don’t know what to expect but I am excited about what is ahead and the opportunity to share this journey – the good, the bad, the ugly and the awesome – with all of you.
There is still a long way to go before you can call me a barrister or a sollicitor, and there will be probably some zigzagging along the way, but I am in it and I am taking you with me. In the meantime, I will continue my advocacy work on behalf of athletes, women, Black and Indigenous people, disabled people, victims and survivors of abuse and violence (and their families), and many other groups.
Happy 12th Canada-versary to me, here’s to my goals and yours, and let’s talk!
Let me know, in the comments, your thoughts about the topic and share, if you wish, the dreams you are claiming for yourself.