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We begin to discover and practice dreaming and setting goals from a very young age. Thanks to children’s movies, books, and series, we dream of becoming and being many personalities and visiting many places. Dreams help revive and evoke our imagination to create and become creative. One of the many questions anyone gets asked is ”What will you be when you grow up?”. From this question, we begin to dream of whatever we want to be. Many people would stick with their first answer, but also many would get to abandon the first dream with another one. Through the journey of growing, we face many circumstances and periods of change. Those sometimes force us to make new dreams, or we discover later that the first childhood dream no longer works for us, which is fine.

While Growing Up,

You learn how to turn a dream into a goal. With that step comes a long list of sacrifices you would have to make. Sometimes you’d be forced to make those sacrifices based on what life throws at you. When I was young, for instance, I wanted to be a Pediatrician. However, that changed in middle school, and I wanted to become a researcher. My childhood dream didn’t become a goal because, with time, I realized that studying medicine wasn’t for me. I didn’t have enough passion for it, and that was okay.

When the revolution broke out in my home country, Libya, I discovered a new passion for politics. I became very interested in understanding the political discourse, especially since I didn’t receive proper political education while growing up. At least from my experience, I thought politics was a taboo subject. My parents never discussed it with us out of fear, and I understood it after the regime’s fall in 2011.

At the same time, I finished my specialized high school in engineering and planned to study environmental engineering. Unfortunately, the field wasn’t available in Libya, so I selected a field connected to it: chemical engineering. Although I progressed in my studies at university and truly enjoyed the area, I found that I was more academic than a practitioner engineer. In middle school, I was more aware of turning dreams into goals, and education was what to use to make it happen.

Deciding Wisely – Goals & Sacrifices

Since I had a passion for education from a very young age, my parents always encouraged me to learn in different forms. When I decided I wanted to become a researcher, I set a goal to pursue higher education abroad. With time, I became more persistent and focused on studying hard. I think I was fortunate to have learned in a great school. I studied in the same school from primary until finishing high school. It influenced my personality development but gave me the strength and willingness to turn my dreams into goals.

Nonetheless, the sacrifice aspect to our goals became part of my reality after how life changed in Libya in 2011. While finishing my undergraduate studies, Libya went through many conflicts and instabilities that continue to this day. With that, the level of uncertainty increased. Through that journey, I tried to focus on my goals while facing the harsh reality back home. Indeed, I finished my bachelor’s degree and began the long journey to look for and pursue a master’s degree abroad.

After a year and a half, I made the awaited plan a reality. However, I sacrificed a scientific career to pursue a different field that I could compensate for with my bachelor’s degree. Although I consider myself an academic, I wanted to enroll in a professional career and experiment with working and developing new skills. Therefore, I followed a degree in environmental policy. I needed diverse options for starting a professional career that would allow me to grow professionally, and I thought it suited me better. While going through the process of applying for a master’s degree at different universities, I was looking for a job in engineering while still in Libya, in case I couldn’t start my studies sooner. Though I couldn’t secure a job in my field, I felt disappointed but eventually started my master’s studies, as initially planned, in France.

Sometimes You Have to Accept the Sacrifice

Because of that decision, I faced pressure to give up my initial degree. It was challenging to explain my reasons, but I decided regardless. I knew I was sacrificing beyond a degree and academic field when I left home. It was much more than that; I sacrificed my time with my family and grew away from home. Little did I know I wouldn’t return since I left because circumstances never helped. There are personal motives to stay away from home in a very challenging place (country) for this long, but I had to do it and accept it, eventually.

Of course, I wouldn’t mask the fact that I got to experience so much because of my journeys abroad, whether short or long-term. I am enjoying my professional career and am already learning so much. I wouldn’t have the same opportunities if I stayed home, and I don’t feel bad about this part, at least.

Can I have it all? Goals With No Sacrifices?

That left me both happy and miserable. I have made a lot of connections since I left Libya, which is considered exceptional, but my social life is not existent to an extent. On the other hand, I don’t have close friends here, and I have considered myself alone since I landed in France.

Even if I met people through university or work, those are just connections, not friends. What keeps me going is that I know better things await in the future if I work hard now. It may sound not very optimistic, but it shouldn’t be the case for many people in other countries. Some managed to start families and make many friends away from their home countries.

The notion that we can’t have everything in life is debatable, or we must wait a little longer to have it all. In this case, it is crucial that we clearly define ”have it all”! My ”have it all” is different from your ”have it all,” and that’s normal. Deep down, I believe that everything happens for a reason, a good one. It makes things less miserable sometimes and more tolerable.

For me, the situation back home has much to do with the decisions I made and still make here. Initially, I wanted to leave to discover the world and have new experiences from a very young age. It differs from one person to another according to context, but it is, at least, how I view it and the situational role it plays in my case for staying longer or not.

With experience, I believe a sacrifice exists in every goal you set. It is more on how you manage and decide on the sacrifices you are willing to make to balance the equation. In one way or another, you have to give up a specific time to focus on something else that you consider essential. Those pieces will eventually become part of your life story, so decide wisely.