For as long as I could remember, I’ve wanted anything but the cookie cutter life. While my friends around me were diligently working their way up to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants, I was dreaming of a life unfettered by society’s expectations.
At one point, I thought nothing could be more exciting—or unconventional—than being a war correspondent in the Middle East. Then, I fantasized about being a marine biologist, so I could swim with dolphins all day. And finally, the one dream that really stuck through all these years, was my dream of becoming a missionary. I wanted to travel all over the world, go to the most dangerous and desolate places, and live to tell the tale.
The more my relatives pressured me to pursue a conventional career choice, the more it fueled my dreams of an adventurous, independent, carefree life.
But life took an unexpected twist, and I now find myself living a very safe life, in a country that—my friends still like to remind me—I once vowed I would never live in, with most of my life choices thus far determined by circumstances beyond my control.
Over the years, life has snuffed out the adventurous spirit within me, and I find it much easier to reach for the same dreams as everyone else—awaiting the day when I can own my own house and fill it with pretty furnishings from Anthropologie, a well-stocked kitchen, and a fluffy cat.
Some days, I wonder what 17-year-old me would think of the life I’m living now. And when I see others living the life I wanted, I wonder: Did I not fight hard enough for my dreams?