Dreams don't come true when you want them to
Born and raised with optimism as part of my DNA, I always try to lace everything I do with a guiding principle in my life: that the most tragic things in our lives almost always precede the most incredible. However, as much of a ball of sunshine I am, I have always felt like I belonged somewhere else. Leaving the Philippines to pursue a Master’s degree in one of my dream schools felt more significant compared to all the departures I have ever had.
In 2012, I went to New York for a summer internship at the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations. It was the moment when I knew that I wanted to live in that city for a certain period in my life. I wanted to live there right after I graduated college, but at that time, the universe did not give it to me.
In life, usually, what we wish for does not fall on our lap right away. You have to put time, effort and work. It is not because the universe is cruel or against you, it is because the universe is smart. It has its own timeline and knows that we really do not appreciate things that fall into our laps in the snap of a finger. So, from that time on, I learned how to compromise the wild dream ideals and the necessary realities without such screaming uneasiness.
Five years ago, I used to dream of living in a tiny apartment in New York with hopefully my best friends and enjoy life’s many adventures it has to offer, eat at little quaint cafes outside for Sunday brunch, people-watch, listen to yellow taxi horns, phone conversations and sidewalk steps.
I used to dream of calling my family on lunch breaks and meeting new people, buying all my groceries at little markets, walking everywhere and running in Central Park. My dream was too vivid that I even imagined my apartment having huge open windows where the sunlight can stream onto the wooden floors and dreamed of, making sure that I would love coming home to it.
In 2015, I went to visit graduate schools in New York in the hopes that I would get to live my dream – of either pursuing a Master’s degree in one of my dream schools, or working at the United Nations after having worked at the Office of the President of the Philippines. But then again, the universe brought me to other doors, which at that time, I thought would be the best for me.
Looking back at the last few years, I am trying to compartmentalize all my feelings and now I know that things did not work out because, well, much greater things were in the works. My 25-year-old self would have told my 20-year-old self that if you have faith in anything, it is crucial to have faith in the fact that the universe has a beautiful way of straightening things out far better than you ever could.
Now, the day came when life finally made sense. I finally found the silver lining in every tragedy. I finally learned the lesson from each mistake, and I finally understood why my heart needed to get broken by dreams, by people, and by life itself. As much as I am fond of opening new doors, it is time to close the doors that should have slammed in my face a long time ago.
I’m not sure how I actually managed to get through numerous disappointments, heartbreaks and loss, and how often I have considered giving up. But then I knew I could not let go of hope, no matter how heavy it felt in my hands.
I do not remember much of the kind of woman I was 5 years ago. But I definitely know she was much more fragile and so much less experienced. Looking at myself now, looking at what life has taught me, what I have learned, I am infinitely stronger, more intelligent and more radiant than my former self.
The universe only matched my effort and if there is anything, I am absolutely awed and perplexed by how every little thing added up and brought me to somewhere wonderful – where I always wanted to be. From where I’m sitting at, I can honestly say that I am grateful that things did not work out the way once I wanted them to be. But the funny thing is, the moment I am living my dreams in one country, I am homesick for another.
Words by: Liz Dumdum