With my high school graduation less than a month away, I have come to expect certain questions.  “What are you doing for the rest of your life?” no longer blindsides me, as it did when it first came up last year. And even though I know exactly what it is I want to do, and how I want to make it happen, I try to avoid the question as much as possible. Generally speaking, people react in the same way: “An astronaut? Really? I thought almost nobody actually did that. And wait, wasn’t NASA cancelled?” Like I said, not my favorite question to answer.
But every so often, someone surprises me. One such encounter happened on my very first day as an SWSG intern in the Boston office, with Aliza, an AmeriCorps resident. The topic naturally came up, as it always seems to, and I revealed my dream. Her eyes went wide. “That is so cool! Good for you.” And just like that, it was a new, uncharted conversation. My crazy aspirations were welcomed, even encouraged, without question.
Through my other, less encouraging encounters, I’ve learned that dreams are simply not engineered to last in the real world. When you’re eight, it’s cute to want to be a Patriots linebacker; at eighteen, it’s time to grow up. So dreams blossom, fade, wither, and are soon replaced by others; it’s their natural life cycle. It’s one that should neither be ended too soon, nor dragged out too long.
And so there is a delicate balance between holding fast to a dream, and grasping so tightly as to rob it of its worth. A dream’s true beauty isn’t its realization, but rather its very existence. We must dream and wish and long, because otherwise we end up not only stalled far below our potential, but also tragically convinced we’ve already reached it. If you dream huge, you will invariably end up in some place almost as big—maybe, in some ways, even bigger.
SWSG embraces this outlook. The mentees are encouraged, just like I was, to have whatever dreams they want, and then given the tools and skills to realize them. The value of SWSG’s support of these girls in this way is truly immeasurable.