You know when you’re on a roller coaster, and you’re heading up the first peak. The train’s chugging along, and you know once you reach a certain point, that there’s only one way down. You’re up there, looking at the view, waiting, as the train slowly rolls over the crest, and pauses for a moment. You take a deep breath as you instantly feel the weight of gravity pull you forward, and then you’re off. The rest is a blur.
It’s cliché to compare my REC experience to a roller coaster, I know. But that first climb felt just like my first month in the program. By Thanksgiving, I was bought in and committed, and by January I realized the gravity of my decision to join UBC REC. And this is what that looked like.
There is no better moment than witnessing someone achieve their dream. We may never come close to seeing our own, but dreams have this way of vanishing and hiding from us. As we get older, the impossibility of our dreams becomes less of a hurdle and more of a fact. And soon we brush them aside like silly fantasies from the pages of our diaries. But once in a while, we are confronted with the reminder that no dream is impossible. No challenge is too overwhelming to conquer the passion only our dreams can provide. No reasoning or logical argument is enough to bury our idealistic pursuits. And no amount of pain or hardship can take away that moment when we grant ourselves the permission to accept our dreams as reality.
My dream in this world isn’t to be rich, or be the greatest at anything, or share myself with family and love, though those things would be nice. My dream is to be proud of the work that I’ve done. I dream that my work, whatever that is, be it career, family, or just planting flowers, provides me happiness and meaning. I want to create impact and change. I want to watch others achieve their dreams too. And I want people to remember me for these things. It’s nothing elaborate. And it’s not impossible. I don’t doubt that my dreams will change. The only thing I doubt are the people who say otherwise.
People ask why leaving REC is so hard for me. They tell me, gracefully, that my time is up, that it’s been “a great 3 years but it’s time to move on”. And yes, I agree with all of those things. And when I’m stuck in the moment fumbling, trying to convey why that reasoning isn’t enough to make me feel better, what I can’t explain is how my time at REC has been 3 years of me achieving my dream. Just like when the Oscar winner is coached to step off the stage, the music begins to play them out, but they keep talking. There are still so many things left to be said, and so many moments to be soaked up. Eventually, they gracefully leave the stand, only to be whisked away, shaking and shocked. And all the work they had done, all the momentum and the talk, and the sweat and tears, has culminated in that impossible dream being seen.
And here I am, shaking and shocked, that I did realize my dream, and now it’s over. But how lucky am I to be saying this at the age of 23. Lucky, but naïve. I very well know that the next dream is only beats away. I haven’t peaked, I reassure myself. And how sneaky this dream was, that it crept up on me, simply as the best ones do.
I am still learning how to say goodbye, but I’m not sure I ever really will. How can you say goodbye to a group of people you never imagined saying hello to? These people have opened my eyes to a slice of the world. They bettered my idea of humanity. They pushed me off the cliff of my comfort zone. And without them, I would never have the confidence to move boldly in the next direction. And this roller coaster would never have been so fun without their laughter or the tight grip of their hands as we lost gravity together.
Moving on isn’t something I feel ready to do, but every ride ends, and mine is waiting for me to leave the seat and give someone else a go. But I will always be able to look back at this blur and smile fondly. I was there. I’ve done everything that I wanted and it was more than I thought it would be.