How To Dream With Open Eyes
Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity – Kahlil Gibran
When we’re young, our dreams are sky high — endless wish lists filled with enormous expectations of ourselves and that of the world around us. Many of these sweet childhood dreams fade away as we grow older, gradually feeling unattainable or unrealistic. In our infinitely busy lives, our wish lists shrink. We seem to rethink and reschedule our hopes and dreams of “I want to do...” or “I wish to become...” with “I must do...” and “I should...”. We (perhaps unsurprisingly) reset our priorities to respond to what’s urgent now and what makes our loved ones happy and comfortable.
For me, the glue that held my dreams fast to me was hope. I believe that hope constitutes a smart and alternative way of keeping my dreams alive. The trick has been to wait for the right time to make them a reality! But hope alone can’t achieve goals and wishes, rather, they must be fortified by determination, commitment and passion, so they can be attainable.
In fact, when I was young, I always wanted to achieve higher education, forge a career, have my own family, and travel and experience the world. I was especially passionate about obtaining an education, and always held it as my utmost dream: a dream that I would work very hard to fulfill. But destiny had different plans for me. Just after I finished my high school, I got married and had to leave my country Lebanon. This was both to travel abroad with my husband due to his work commitments and the Lebanese civil war at that time: the severity of which compounded the difficulties I already faced in achieving the education I dreamt of.
Being happy in my marriage and excited about experiencing a new life in a foreign country didn’t stop that inner voice that kept urging me to seek learning in any way. Unfortunately, it was difficult at that time to listen to that voice. Rather, it was necessary to ignore it for a long period after the births of my three children and facing years of instability travelling between Lebanon and the Gulf, where my husband worked.
Many years passed on, more than two decades, until my dream started shyly to emerge. Through my silent yet steady determination and obvious passion for learning, it finally found its way. I embraced every opportunity to enhance my skills and educate myself. They were baby steps, but they were firm ones that inevitably entitled me to jump above and beyond my own expectations. I started to join community literacy activities: enrolling in short courses, attending workshops and training sessions, all of which helped me greatly in becoming eligible to undertake a diploma course followed by a bachelor’s degree!
I was fifty plus by then, but I couldn’t have been happier or more blissful. My graduation day will forever remain one of the most memorable days of my life. Wow! My dream had finally become true. My journey hadn’t been smooth or easy at all as I was juggling my study demands, family commitments and a part-time job, but I was blessed enough to be surrounded by a wonderful family, with an open-minded husband and three incredible and amazing daughters who supported me all the way. Not to mention, how living in a country so full of opportunity like Australia has opened many doors for me to reach my dream and heightened my ability to pursue what I always longed to achieve.
Returning to study as a mature age student not only helped me to fulfill my dream and obtain higher qualifications, but also, and maybe to the same importance, allowed me to meet and form friendships with people from various age groups, backgrounds and cultures. This was in itself an exciting and rewarding experience that has immensely enriched both my knowledge and connections. I was also introduced to some fantastic community leaders and experts in their fields, who inspired me to become more engaged in projects and initiatives that aim to enhance harmony, fairness and tolerance in our communities. All these changes happened in just a few years but left a big impact on my personality and the way I will view the world for many years to come.
While I reflect on these recent years, filled with significant personal achievements, I feel like I should never take these milestones for granted. I reached out for every opportunity with grace and gratitude, bridging the gap between my age and further learning with determination and patience. I believed in myself and am demonstrating by example that being a mother does not and should not make anyone fear or be ashamed of making their dream come true.
While it was important at some stages in my life to make compromises and postpone my plans, for me they were worthwhile, and had many positive effects on me and my whole family. I also regard my experience is unique, especially when considering the fact that I came from a conservative culture and am a middle-aged woman who is still pursuing her dreams. I believe I have a bright future to look forward to.
As the years pass on, happy and sad ones, and although my wish list has had some alterations, I deeply believe that things pan out in their own time, no matter how organised we are or how well-crafted our plans might be. It took so long to become true, but you know what? I am living my dream, enjoying it, and I am extremely contented and grateful! As the old adage says, better late than never!