Are You Living Your Dreams?

In my 25 years in this body, I’ve made several choices that have drastically changed the course of my life. For all the different roles I’ve played, I feel as if I’ve lived multiple lives in one.

Thanks to my extremely erratic and varied history, I’ve never doubted that the moment I tire of any aspect of my life, I can change anything or everything in an instant.

hugging a rock

at the ends of the Earth - New Zealand

However, this realization doesn’t exempt me from complacency. Just as it’s easy for a dissatisfied employee to stay at his or her current job because it pays well, it’s easy for me to trudge mindlessly from country to country without asking myself if this is still what I want to do.

In the spirit of New Year’s and its corresponding resolutions, I’m challenging you, as well as myself, to ask yourself this crucial question – are you living the life of your dreams?

Excuses, Shmexcuses

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours. – Richard Bach

Some people believe that we have just one life to live. I personally believe that we have several, though this lifetime is unique in that the Universe is expressing itself as Jasmine, in this body and this era, with these ideals, values, hopes, and dreams.

As this experience is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, it would be a crime to shirk our responsibility of living this life to its fullest.

How strange to use “You only live once” as an excuse to throw it away. – Bill Copeland

There are a million excuses for not finding a job you love, a partner that respects you, losing 20 pounds, trekking through the Amazon, or whatever else it is you fantasize about in the confines of your mind. But are any of them really good enough?

Not Everything Is Easy

While we should do everything superhumanly possible to realize our dreams, this isn’t the easiest life route you could take.

Before becoming the first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela dedicated his entire adult life working towards equality and justice for all, and spent 30 years of his life in prison.

Martin Luther King, Jr. suffered countless assaults and abuses, had his house bombed, and was arrested several times before he saw a change in the US and won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Great people don’t do great things because they’re easy. They make history and change lives because they did absolutely everything in their power to turn their dreams into a reality, many times in the face of the most extreme hardships that exist.

Traveling isn’t always easy. I’m subject to all kinds of feelings of frustration, boredom, loneliness, and a general feeling of being lost in the world and belonging everywhere and nowhere at the same time. However, I know to the core of my soul that this is the right lifestyle for me, and negative emotions and imagined struggles, like everything else in this world, are completely temporary.

My Dreams This Year

After a personal re-analyzation, I’ve dusted off a few items on my lifelong to do list that have been untouched for too long. As a commitment to myself and my dreams, I’m posting them here to keep myself accountable.

taking photos Angkor Wat

playing photographer in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Photography – Photography is one of my favorite art forms, and one I’ve always been meaning to get into. In 2011, I want to purchase a real camera and take a few courses to learn how to use it.

Learn a Language – Learning Spanish has added an unimaginable depth to my travels in Latin America this year. I have now proven to myself that I’m capable of learning a new language in a relatively short span of time. After all, if Benny can learn a new language in three months, I can manage a new one every year.

Volunteer – After volunteering at a refugee youth and family program in Tampa, I’ve always wanted to volunteer overseas. Due to a mild fear of commitment and general laziness, I’ve left this item undone. 2011 is my year to volunteer!

This is just the beginning of my dream list, but these are three things I feel really excited about accomplishing. What about you – what are your dreams for 2011? Share your thoughts here.

  • Joya
    December 17, 2010

    Hi Jasmine, these are great goals. I especially like the photography one because I enjoy it so much more when I am traveling. My goal for 2011 is to make sure to take a trip once a month for a break from work whether they are near or far destinations. This year I didn’t take my vacation until the fall and breaks are good and I hope I can visit my family in Lebanon in the summer.

  • MarkStephenson761
    December 17, 2010

    Thanks for the perspective Jas…and anytime you can work in both MLK and Richard Bach you know I’ll be a fan! :)

  • Jasmine Stephenson
    December 17, 2010

    Thanks for sharing Joya. A trip to Lebanon would be amazing!

  • dunklea
    December 18, 2010

    Great post and good luck with your personal goals in 2011!


  • Jasmine Stephenson
    December 20, 2010

    thanks Andrew!

  • ER
    December 21, 2010

    Hi Jasmine, great post! I totally agree with you, and I often wonder how so many people can not think this way and become totally complacent in situations they may not be enjoying. Life’s too short to not go after your dreams!

    I have always believed in life-long personal development and learning. It’s just become one of my core beliefs because it makes life interesting and challenging. But it’s still easy to lose focus or to keep adding goals to the list without actually putting in the effort to accomplish them. It’s posts like this that help bring that focus back. Thanks!

  • Jasmine Stephenson
    December 22, 2010

    You´re right, it is easy to forget to focus on improving our lives and following our dreams. Glad the post reminded you of your goals :)

  • Mcharya
    December 31, 2010

    great post!! keep it up… I have lived my life till now… I have to live my dreams now.

  • Rebecca
    January 2, 2011

    Great post Jasmine! Good luck with your goals this year. What language do you think you’ll learn next?

    This year I’d also love to improve my photography – I bought a DSLR in Johannesburg last year but have no idea how to use it! So this year I’m going to take some classes and actually read the manual (which I should have done when I bought it!). Also want to focus on getting better at Spanish and Arabic, and travel, travel, travel!

  • Jasmine Stephenson
    January 3, 2011

    Thanks Rebecca! I have no idea what language I’ll be learning… French, Italian, and Japanese all sound appealing but I might still be in South America, so possibly Portugese?

    I would imagine that Melbourne is a cool place to take photography courses too, what with all the street art and cool cafe lanes and everything. Did you learn Spanish and Arabic in Aus or while traveling?

  • Rebecca
    January 3, 2011

    Good luck with whichever one you choose! I’ve been learning Spanish and Arabic while in Oz – have only had the chance to use my Spanish abroad in Central America, so would love to get back over that way to practice more.

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