On wildest dreams
When your dreams come true, what do you do?
I wrote my Ph.D. thesis in 2015.
The hardest (and the best) part of that 200 page document was the acknowledgement and devotion part. I felt like that two pages out of 200 were the ones that really belonged to me the most. I had to make it right.
That devotion page; the one that is empty, except one sentence... I thought for a while and ended up writing this:
"to those who believe in the power of their dreams"
What was that even suppose to mean?
Wasn't I suppose to devote it to family or someone I know? (well... whoever is asking that question: I never functioned with "suppose to's"... so get used to that)
I wanted it to belong to people who were brave enough to follow their dreams. I wanted to be one of those people. Yet I was not.
At the time, if you asked me, I would have told you that my dream was to start my postdoc and then find an academic position. I would have told you all about it, in detail. and you would believed in it. Cause I sure did.
I didn't lie yet I was not being fully truthful either. Not being authentic to myself. I would have read some script aloud from, a well-crafted and memorized script of mine, that even I didn't know when and how I memorized... I wanted to believe in it. Truly.
Yet I knew subconsciously. All along. That this was not my dream. and I was scared as hell to admit it.
Don't we all know, when we lie to ourselves? Deep down, we all know the truth. Yet sometimes it hurts so much and we keep it hidden.
I was all beaten up by the system & universe for quite a lot and started thinking that dreams are for losers. (You can read all the details of my spectacular failure as a scientist here)
After trying twice and getting beaten up (pretty bad...), I started toughening up and rising to the occasion by being an overachiever.
The things we do to prevent us from feeling pain.
Our armors. Don't we all have at least one?
I loved mine! The PhD, then the postdoc. The scientific language that only certain people understand. The perfect success façade that I kept pulling so perfectly since high school.
I feel like I enjoyed it to certain extend, to heal my bruised ego. Yet, I never felt that it belonged to me truly. I felt like an imposter.
The interesting thing about your deepest dreams and passion is,
no matter what you do to them,
you can bury them six feet under,
or burn them to ashes,
They keep coming back to you.
They are immortal and they are meant to be realized.
It is basically impossible to get rid of them, unless you kill your "self" (which is something that I do not recommend to anyone )
For the past 6 years, on and off, I carried the weight of my broken dreams.
They came up in different shapes and forms, in disguise of low mood, anxiety attacks, mild depression, imposter syndrome and low self esteem, despite being a successful and somehow decorated academic...
and to a certain point I was okay with that.
I mean who gets to reach their dreams? (Don't be a fool, Kumsal!)
Who is allowed to be that happy and lucky? (No one, Kumsal)
Ah... I hate that inner voice. Such a liar.
I was ready to put my head down, work hard, settle with a job.
So, what happened that I finally "woke up" and ended up leaving my career behind and decided to chase my dream like a wild goose, for the third time...
In 2019, we decided to become a family of three and my daughter... She happened.
She is the joy of my life.
She has a laughter that can lighten up the worst mood,
and I can do anything to stop her from crying or hurting...
She is such an observant kid and gentlest toddler you can find.
She is my other dream coming true.
After having her, I started more and more revisiting my childhood, my family... (as if I didn't dig into the past and went through the darkest corners of my soul enough for the past 5 years …)
As every other parent out there, I want to give her the best things in life. I want her to succeed and be happy. I want her to be her own person.
It dawned on me that preaching her to be happy, to be successful or her own person... would probably not going to work if I am living a less than authentic life. Because it sure didn't work well for me, even though my parents do wanted me to be happy, told me to be successful and be my own person.
If I truly wanted her to be all these things I want her to be,
I must stop pretending to be someone that I am not.
If I wanted her to be her own person, I guess the best way is to be one.
If I wanted her to succeed, I personally need to know the failure first (not run away from it for years and just fail!)
and if I wanted her to be happy, I just have to quit complaining and learn how to feel the joy.
Today, almost 6 years after defending my PhD thesis, as I accepted the graduate offer from UofT and finally on my way to become a therapist FOR REAL,
I stop pretending to be someone that I am not.
I failed. God knows I did. and miserably. and I am not afraid of failure anymore.
What is left for me to just enjoy this moment. Enjoy being in my dream.
Now that's where I am still struggling, Eleanor.
I have my dreams within my reach, I am suppose to feel happy right?
Yet I don't know how I feel it.
I ask myself now that my dreams come true, why it is so hard for me to feel happy?
I still can't believe this deadly duo: the system & universe let me get to my dreams this time.
Do you ever feel like something really bad is about to happen, after something good happens? Yeah... What's up with that?
Why can't we just enjoy the moment and be happy?
Are we too used to complaining?
Are we afraid that if everything is going well, and everything is good
maybe we won't relate to certain people in our lives anymore?
I guess my therapist was right. ( As always!)
I used to relate to my mother over complaining. For years. She complained about her job, co-workers, my father, her mother, the driver on the road... basically everyone and everything.
So, if I stop complaining about my life, enjoy what I have,
if I am living my wildest dreams, if this is the only thread that keeps us from falling apart?
If me keeping myself small and "problematic is the last string of attachment that I have with my mother. If I let that go, totally, how do we relate to one another? How she can handle it, without being envious or resentful?
What if we are so used chasing happiness and complaining that things not go the way we want, so once they do - how do we acknowledge and give ourselves the permission to be happy? How do we build a new way of being?
How can we tell ourselves that the fight is over, if we have defined ourselves with the fight?
How can we die in one life and come alive in another?
These questions are not meant to be answered immediately. These questions and answers belong to this new road that I am taking.
I don't want you, Eleanor, to relate to me over my misery. I must break this cycle and learn how to fell joy.
Seeing life with all the good and bad. With all the success and failure.
It is never a parent's job to prevent their children going through failure or feeling sadness, anger or disappointment.
It is their job to be there, when they fall. When they fail.
Just be with them.
So I want you to be there for you Eleanor.
When you fail and I am sure you will do, if you try something new,
I will be there to tell you that, I know the feeling. I will be there for you.
I will be there when you will be chasing your wildest dreams and afraid as hell.
I am scared to my bones and happy as I have never been.
I feel like I died in one life and came back, walking into this new world that I have no idea what is waiting for me.
I can feel it in my bones that I am made for this.
I know that there are people here whom I meant to meet and some of them I already did.
They are some of the kindest souls that I've met.
I feel the belonging, even before I am fully in. Its a calling.
I promise you Eleanor, I will learn how to be happy. It might take me a while but I will and we will relate to each other something other than misery.
a closing note to my six years younger self who deserves to be proud of herself for weathering so many storms and was wise enough to see these days back then,
Hey, I love you Kumsal!
I love you with all your armor and failures and all. You did what you know was best.
And I am proud of you.
It is time to rest in peace.
I will keep making us making proud.