This quote from Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged has stayed with me ever since I watched One Tree Hill for the first time. I really loved the characters of Lucas and Haley in that first season, because I related to them. I was the quirky girl who prided herself on academics, loved to teach and was usually pretty sure of myself. The ‘responsible’ one, who had a few good friends even if I wasn’t super popular. I identified with Lucas because I was the kid with the single Mum and I had a half sibling (in fact 2!) who lived in riches while we lived not impoverished, but certainly not wealthily.
Growing up I heard a lot of the word ‘No’, a lot of the ‘what if you fail’, a lot of the ‘that’s not going to be possible’, a lot of the ‘you don’t really want to do that’.
I played it safe. At times I’d get the courage to go for my dream of dancing, but it was made clear I wouldn’t be supported. My request to be picked up (getting a bus home from a dodgy part of Edinburgh was not fun at night, and one time my bus stop got smashed in while I was standing in the shelter) would be met with huffing and puffing. I’d hear things like: ‘Don’t be silly’. ‘No you can’t go to school there, that’s too far away’. ‘I’m not paying for you to go to university so far away’. ‘That’s not a good university’. ‘Oh, I don’t think you should apply there, you probably wouldn’t get in’.
My biggest regret is not training to become a dance teacher. I chose a career in Geography teaching and really I was settling for second best. Something that I knew I could do ‘easily’.
Oh, Laura Anne.
It wasn’t one big moment. It was people’s lack of confidence, people’s own negativity, people’s own thoughts on what makes a good life snuffing out my enthusiasm and love piece by piece. Gradually.
And it’s stayed with me.
In the end, when I decided to quit my degree in Geography and switch to a degree at a medical school (please note, I did NO science study at Higher level) it was damn scary. I kind of organised the whole thing in the space of about a day then told my parents. They were shocked and really thought I was making the biggest mistake of my life. But I’d found a new passion in Community Education and I wanted to follow it.
My fire was reignited.
And then snuffed out again, piece by piece.
I used to believe I could do anything (except team sports….I’m awful at them and I HATE participating in anything that involves a ball). Slowly I lost my confidence in my ability and I stopped trying to challenge myself.
Now…I want to take it all back. Everything I let people take away from me. I always say that the trip I took to Australia in 2007 was my healing place. It was where God began to say to me ‘you can do everything you imagine‘. It was when I discovered I can be alone and not be crawling out my skin. It was when I had to rely on God through worrying moments. It was when I had total peace in the middle of a setback. It was when I begun to trust that I had a bright and interesting future ahead of me.
It was real. It could exist. It was possible. It was my opportunity to walk into.
Our dreams don’t just come to us. We have to work to achieve them, and we have to continue to work to hold on to them.
Don’t get dragged down by negativity. Find things that keep your fire burning. A fire needs fuel, oxygen and a spark to set it off. Fuel yourself with training yourself with the skills you need to make your dream work, give yourself space to learn and have hope, and look out for the spark – the opportunity that is there for the taking to help all that stuff be put to good use. Then you’ll flourish.
What do you do to prevent your passion for something being snuffed out by other influences – whether it be from yourself or others?