Setting Realities, Not Dreams

Anytime you mention your goals in the presence of others, they always falsely applaud that you have a dream. People mistake goals for outlandish dreams, things they can’t achieve or moments they’ll never experience. For example, I want to attend Harvard Law School and become a corporate lawyer. That wasn’t always my “dream,” of course, but eventually, I identified that my interests always fell within some realm of the law. I decided on HLS when I went to Nicaragua and everyone encouraged me to aim high. Just those couple of words defined the course of my future. Over time, I realized that there were two types of responses when it came to acknowledging my goals.

Types of questions

When I started college and was faced with questions like “So what do you want to do?” and “Where do you want to study?” I felt a bit ashamed to say corporate work or Harvard. It was due in part to the responses I’d get, spanning from “Oh, wow! That’s a big dream!” to “You’d have to be really smart to do that.” Responses like that made me question my desire to achieve those goals. They made me doubt myself and my capabilities. That’s one way society corners us into thinking our goals are too outlandish. It makes us contemplate whether the journey of humiliation is worth the final destination.

Then we have responses that remind us of what we’re worth. Those tend to come from true friends and, hopefully, family. When I told my mother and cousins about my goal of attending HLS, they recognized the seriousness behind my expression. This wasn’t a “dream”—this was a reality I was focused on achieving. It still is. I haven’t given up on the future I have planned out. It’s not a static reality because life is a series of unexpected moments, but it is a reality worth fighting for.

It’s easy to self-doubt

It’s easy to set goals, but the process of achieving them is difficult. All of my work—studying for the LSAT, keeping up a good GPA and finding a niche in law—goes towards attending HLS. However, the other aspects of the journey are combined with your own mental state and the outside world trying to play part in it.

One of the most natural responses we have to uncertainty is self-doubt. Personally, my actions are often swayed by others. I am a highly competitive person, and during challenges I tend to focus more on the doubt from others than my own. It is important to realize that fear takes the reins on our ability to create our own realities. It manipulates us into thinking we’re not worthy of our goals. It makes us believe our goals are unattainable dreams that should be left for us to ponder while sleeping. Fear and self-doubt cannot exist without the other—they work together to make our longed-for realities seem like wishful thinking.

One of the biggest tips I have, one that I am currently working on myself, is to focus on what will come after. After graduating from HLS, I want to be able to lead a life that brings me joy above all. No matter what type of law I end up practicing, I want to feel happy about the choices I’ve made thus far. In my situation, I focus on that feeling of happiness and use it as ammunition in my fight towards victory. Get rid of the self-doubt and criticism and focus on the “after” feeling.

If it hasn’t happened yet, how is it a reality?

I haven’t accomplished my goals, yet. Understand that your goal may not have happened “yet” but count on it happening. I know that I still have around two years for my goal to become a reality, but I won’t let it die as a dream. Many of us had dreams of becoming an astronaut, a pianist or an actress but let them go because they were “dreams.” I know that this reality I am searching for is the reality I am willing to work hard to achieve. That’s the mentality we should all have when striving for better. We have to start telling ourselves that the reality we want is the reality we deserve. Our goals aren’t outlandish—they are a representation of our self-worth. At the end of my time here at UF, I hope to revisit this article while living my reality as an incoming HLS student.