by guest blogger Justine Sha, Rodale Books publicity intern
The other day at yoga class, our teacher, Eddie, asked us to begin our practice by sitting at the top of our mats and closing our eyes. “How many of you are living your dream?” he asked, telling us to raise our hands, keeping our eyes closed. I instantly raised mine.
“Three people raised their hands,” he said. Then he asked, “How many of you know what your dream is and are on your way to living it?” I sat still and thought about his words. “Four people raised their hands that time,” Eddie said. “How many people have no idea what their dream is?” Eight people raised their hands. He concluded by telling the class to leave all those thoughts behind and to focus on the here and now, our practice on the mat.
But he had me hooked; I couldn’t stop thinking. Was I really living my dream?
Knowing that only three people raised their hands to indicate they are living their dream, I began to second-guess myself, when I had been so sure a moment before. Only three people? And at 22, I must have been one of the youngest in the room. How could it be possible that I felt that I was living my dream and yet the remaining 12 people in the room, all older and more experienced, were not? In proportion to the world, that would mean that only 20 percent, less than one quarter of the adult population of the earth is living its dream—and 80 percent of the world is not!
I am not “successful” yet, in the more monetary definition of the word, so I began to wonder what qualifies me to acknowledge that I am living my dream. Then I thought, “How am I not living my dream?” I’ve just graduated college with honors; I am interning in the greatest city in the world at Rodale, my dream company (somewhere I never thought I would ever actually be offered work). I love my walk to work in the morning; I love my soup from Hale & Hearty at lunch (no matter how hot it is outside); I love reading on the train on my way to and from the city; I have one year left to finish my master’s degree, and I’ve started my thesis with my favorite professor, who is enthusiastic about my ideas. I wanted to run a half-marathon, so I did—and then a full, and then many more; I am loving my yoga practice; and I have the greatest boyfriend (of almost four years) in the world! Although I am not as wealthy as I hope to be one day, nor at the top of the ladder yet, nor quite done with my schooling, I can’t help being absolutely riveted by every little part of life.
I have big dreams for my career and my personal life, but even when those dreams are achieved, I’m not so sure I’ll be able to consider that “living my dream.” It seems to me that to live your dream is to enjoy the journey and to continually be expanding your aspirations, because once a step is achieved, that glimmer of the future—”the dream”—no longer exists.
My boyfriend, Nick, and I recently competed in a three-mile mud race, complete with 26 obstacles; each one was more daunting and impossible than the last, and yet I got over each one. Nick wouldn’t let me skip anything, no matter how terrifying it seemed—like scaling a 12-foot wall—but instead, he helped me through anything that I could not do alone.
Life is very much like that mud race. The bigger you dream, the more each obstacle looks impossible to overcome, but with the will to succeed and the love and support from people who care, you can achieve anything—but you must not be afraid of failure. Friends, family, people you love, and even kind strangers, will catch you when you fall if you accept their help. If you don’t leave the race bruised, bleeding, and covered in mud, you didn’t try hard enough. The same goes for life. You must be present and feel every step of the journey, and make the decision to find happiness in the everyday.
Perhaps that’s what “living your dream” is all about: living totally in the present, yet always dreaming bigger.
Justine I. Sha is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University with a B.A. in English and creative writing. She is in a 5-year B.A./M.A. program and will receive her master’s in English literature in May of 2016. Sha is an aspiring publicist and writer and currently interns with the books publicity team at Rodale. An avid marathon runner, yoga lover, and amateur artist and winemaker, Justine also loves reading anything she can get her hands on. Her favorite recreational activity is going out for tea, and she knows every line to NBC’s The Office. She recently adopted a very cute calico kitten named Detective Olivia Benson.