When I was 11 years old, my family and I went on a trip to Kochi, a city in South India. Around midnight, we boarded a four-hour long flight, arriving at our destination before sunrise. An acquaintance of ours was supposed to pick us up from the airport, and he welcomed us with a warm smile despite the fact that it was a cold, rainy morning.
I remember trudging through a crowd of weary strangers, holding my backpack a bit tighter, as if it would slip away into the torrent of people. As my parents and their friend slipped into a conversation mostly made up of small talk, the topic shifted to revolve around my sister and me.
I remember preparing myself to answer the usual questions that adults would ask me, such as “What grade are you in?” and “Are you both twins?” At this point, I was so used to answering this I could probably do so in my sleep. All you had to do was say “7th grade,” and “Yes, we’re twins,” with a smile, and the conversation would wander off into another direction. Simple.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
That was the first question that he asked me— and all I could do was blink in confusion. Unlike the usual questions, this one didn’t have a definitive answer.
“I don’t know,” I said truthfully, and somehow I didn’t like saying that. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was probably one of the most stubborn kids you could ever meet. Simply saying those three words left a sour taste in my mouth.
“What?” His kind face contorted into one of disbelief. “Not knowing what your dream is— that’s like steering a ship without a compass!”
I still don’t know why those specific words stuck with me all these years. However, I still recall that moment at random times and think: Is it okay to not know what you want to be? Do you choose one and stick to it, or do you let your options wander?
Most of all: If you don’t have a dream, will you drown in this supposed ocean?
Four years later, and I’ve finally found something I want, and hopefully can, pursue in the future: becoming a writer and businesswoman. The question now is— Does it make a difference now after knowing what I want to do?
My answer now would be yes.
Truthfully, however, it depends on what kind of person you are. My friend has known he wanted to be a doctor ever since he was three, but I’ve also met people who are in their final years of school and say things along the lines of “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.” Whether you’re an ambitious person or not, all that matters is that you’re doing something that you love. Finding your actual passion could happen at any time in your life, and when you do finally realize it— you’ll just have to take it and run with it.
In my case, finding out what I really want to do in the future has given me a sense of clarity and purpose. Instead of working aimlessly towards a goal that I hadn’t established, I now have a sense of direction.
Rather than a compass, I’d compare dreams to a light. Instead of telling you exactly where to go, it clears up a path. With this light, the dark uncertainty of the waves in front of you seems a little brighter, the path in front of you a little clearer, and maybe even a little bit more beautiful.
About the Author:
Vaanathi Chonachalam is a youth writer, poet, artist, and photography enthusiast. She is a lover of dogs, rain, books, and music.