Will it ever be too late to chase your dreams?
I’m standing in front of a crowd of university students. They stare at me expectantly, waiting for me to start singing. As the lyrics come on, and I start singing, I raise my hands, encouraging them to sing along and sway with the music. It falls flat. They eye me warily.
I tried again. And again. And again. Each time, the crowd fails to sing along or even seem excited at what I’m singing.
As I go home later that day, it makes me wonder, “Have I failed? Is it too late? Will I ever make it as a performer?”
My journey since young
Since young, I’ve always been inspired by G.E.M and Eric Chou to become a singer, looking up to them for their voice, the emotions they pour into their songs, their ability to create music that I resonate with and one which accompanies me throughout various stages of my life
Yet, as I grew up wanting to become a singer and actor, everyone tried talking me out of it (and when I say everyone, I meant everyone).
Some of the things that were said, as I’m trying to phrase it in a nicer manner, were “Why choose that when the future prospects are so volatile? It would be a waste to study so hard just to enter the industry! Do you know the amount of people who tried and never saw the light in this industry?”
I understood where they were coming from. I know that the concerns they had, mainly my parents, were because they just wanted me to enter an industry that is relatively more stable and earns better to lead a good material standard of living.
As foolish as it might sound, I thought that I could just grit my teeth and give it a shot but the fear of failing got to me and it consumed the courage and confidence I had, which eventually led to the path I took for the past few years.
I eventually headed the direction my parents wanted me to, studied hard and ended up doing well for PSLE. I then went on to study at Hwa Chong Institution before heading to Hwa Chong Junior College. I committed myself to 3 CCAs, became a councilor and studied really hard. The results did pay off and in my own standards, I built a strong and holistic portfolio and did well for my A-Levels, achieving a AAAAB, better known as a UAP of 88.75.
Being overwhelmed with academic pressure as well as my own expectations of wanting to do well, I rarely had time to pursue my passion and what I was interested in. I did well, but at what cost?
Why didn’t I start at a young age?
As you may wonder, why didn’t I start pursuing my dreams when I was young?
To tell you truthfully, I still do question my decisions and whether they were right. But I believe that everything happens for a reason, as cliche as it may sound. Whatever I’ve been doing in the past happened for a reason, which was to give me the preparation and time I needed and await for the right time before I’m ready to embark on the journey of pursuing my dreams
Is it too late to do so now?
Having turned 20 this year, I’ve questioned myself, “am I too old now?”
I’ve questioned myself at times, whether or not it was too late, since there were many others who started way earlier, to join this game. Of course it would be difficult at times to play the catching up game but I feel that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and everyone progresses differently so start only when you feel that you are ready to do so. I’ll be sharing with you why I decided to pursue my dreams despite the concerns I’ve faced
(i) The fear of failing without trying overrides the fear of failing
I’ve always been concerned about whether or not I would be able to make it, as much as I know that I was willing to put in all my effort to pursue my dreams, but there were moments of uncertainty which surfaced at times. Then again, I thought to myself, how would I know whether or not I stand a chance if I do not give myself the chance to give it a shot? I guess I did not want to live my life with regrets and lots of what if’s, never knowing the outcome of what my dreams could have been. I know that perhaps another 20 years down the road, I would end up regretting conforming to societal norms of leading a conventional way of getting a stable job and leading a comfortable life instead of leading the life I wanted.
(ii) You determine not just the path, but the pace you take.
I was overly concerned whether or not it was too late to get started or that the pace I was taking was too slow. But I’ve come to realise that you determine your own progress because you know yourself best, the time you need to prepare, to come up with a plan and at what pace do you function best without adding too much pressure to yourself so go at a pace in which you feel comfortable with because there is no need to compare with others and pile up any form of unnecessary stress.
You are doing it for yourself and the dreams and goals that you have are vastly different from any other individual so take the time that you need
(iii) Live for yourself, never for others. Ask yourself what brings you happiness? Are you content with what you have achieved in life or is there something more you would like to achieve? I got inspired as I came across and read about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, “a theory of motivation which states that five categories of human needs dictate an individual’s behaviour”.
I realised that there was so much more I would like to achieve beyond meeting my safety and psychological needs, on the scale of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and that I now crave towards reaching the state of self actualisation and the desire to become what I want to be. We only live once.
Live it for yourself, live a life that you want to lead, a life that you would feel happy living, a life where you are free to pursue what you want to achieve and meet your self-fulfilment needs. I truly believe we can only feel genuine happiness, gratification and a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment when we set out to accomplish what we want to do and not to succumb to the expectations of others of how life should be! Remember, your life, your choice.
So start living for yourself from now!
What is different between now and then?
To me, back then, it felt like the steps I had to undergo were so much and that it was overwhelming to even start. It wasn’t as easy as taking a microphone and simply just singing.
To provide a rough idea, I had to source for my own audio equipment, learn musical instruments, music production, write and compose, source for performance opportunities, manage my own schedule etc.
Looking back, 16 years old me definitely would not have known where or how to start, given that it would have been so intimidating for me to start while managing my academics. Besides, having to source for opportunity and financial concerns were limiting factors and that there were many other commitments I had on my plate as well
Yet today, I feel like now that I’ve grown and matured as a person, I can then better plan for my future and the steps I would have to take, as opposed to me recklessly trying, should I have tried a couple of years back.
Striking a balance between dreams and reality
It is true when they say with age, comes wisdom. I’m 20 years old now and it seems like I’m slowly transitioning to adulthood. I’ve been doing some reflection of my own and I feel that I’m now in the right phase of my life to start pursuing what I like to do now that I’ve matured and better know what I want to achieve and how I can do so.
One question that popped out in my mind was “Why can’t I have the best of both worlds?” It wasn’t until recently where I realised that I can in fact have both, given that having a well-paying job and chasing my dreams isn’t mutually exclusive and that I can do so while pursuing the conventional path of getting a degree and getting a relatively more stable and better paying job. One brings me material wealth and comfort, the other brings me happiness and fulfilment.
Strike a balance between your dreams and reality. Be realistic of the time you would need and what you would have to do to integrate your dreams with your academics or work. Take things a step at a time and seize every opportunity you’ve been presented with.
One step at a time?
The first step is to just get started! The start is always the most overwhelming and brings the most uncertainty. We often avoid starting because we do not want to face whatever that’s impending but you will realise that the momentum kicks in and soon, you’ll be a step closer to your dreams when you get started! Do not think about all the things you still have to do but rather work towards clearing it one by one.
Next, once you get started, work consistently. Discipline is what keeps you going in the long run. Have a plan of what you do upon completing a part of your goals and what comes next because before you know it, everything else will gradually fall in place. Knowing what steps to undergo at every point in time gives you the reassurance that you are aware of what you are doing and what you have left. Having a plan helps to ensure that your dreams will turn into reality, which ultimately depends on you and the decisions you make.
Lastly, always fight for your dreams to come true.
You decide how far you want to go to pursue your dreams! Always actively source for opportunities that would help showcase your progress and abilities and put yourself out there. Opportunities do not come easily and they do not come knocking on your door so it is up to you to actively seek for opportunities and secure these platforms for you to display your talent. Talent prevails so believe in your own abilities and that you are meant to be seen by others!
Ultimately, I’m writing this article because I hope that it can serve as a reminder for you to believe in yourself and lead the life that you’ve always wanted to lead. If anything, I hope that you remember to start living for yourself and not leave any regrets behind so embark on your journey to chase your dreams now because it is never too late to start chasing your dreams!