Dream big, they said

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Humor columnist Riley Power examines the reality of dreams here at U.Va.

Max Patten | Cavalier Daily

Since a young age, I’ve been told to dream big because “anything is possible.” If we try hard enough and put our best foot forward, our biggest and brightest dreams can come true! Right? This idea has been ingrained in my mind and the minds of many others, I’m sure. We hear it from our parents, teachers, mentors, friends’ parents, preachers, celebrities, etc. that the only limit is our imagination in what we can dream and thus achieve. In a world rife with discord, most everyone seems to agree on this one big idea. The repetition of this simple phrase so frequently by so many people made it seem like fact. And for about 18 years it almost seemed realistic to me too, until I came to the University.

I started having suspicions shortly after starting my first year here, and with the furthering of time, my greatest fears have only been proven true. It all started when I moved into Tuttle-Dunnington, one of the most plush and palatial dorms on Grounds, just a mere 12 months ago. I had to share a room with someone for the first time in my first-year dorm. It was not a horrible experience, my roommate was pretty chill, but I blame her for shattering the validity of this mantra. I’m not sure that she exactly tore down the smokescreen of my youthful indiscretion, but it was through her that I slowly came to see the light.

As we grew closer as roommates, I learned more about her, and thus more about myself. As an incoming first-year I was bombarded with well-intentioned advice about how to build a good relationship with my roommate, and the one that was at the center of them all was good communication. We shared our own hopes and dreams, each hoping to shoot for the stars someday. We shared the small irritants that ruffled our feathers and hoped that they would be well-received as parts of who we were. At night, we would say goodnight, even if one of us would be grinding hard until the wee hours of the morning. 

Sometimes in the morning, we would share our dreams from the previous night. It became a nice routine for us, one of familiarity that helped to make Virginia feel more like home, and for that I am grateful. Unfortunately, it was through this giving and receiving and having and sharing that we had and gave and received and shared that I learned not everyone can dream big, or should dream at all. 

My roommate would wake up in the morning excited by her dreams. Not her metaphorical dreams for the future or whatever, but the series of thoughts, images and sensations occurring in her mind during sleep. She would have these fantastically outrageous dreams where she would be whisked away on the back of a dragon by Mamadi Diakite. Other times, she would deep sea dive without a snorkel and find the entrance to nirvana tucked away in Squidward’s right nostril. Whatever the scenario, the night before, my roommate had undoubtedly dreamed big, and I had not. I started keeping my REM sleep ramblings to myself after getting a look of pity after detailing my dream of having petting a friendly calico cat outside of Alderman Library. 

With time, I have come to accept that, contradictory to popular belief, not everyone can dream big, or at least not in the literal sense. Yes, I do still believe that everyone can aspire to achieve their goals, but I think that John Lennon should have been clearer about which type of dreamers he was referring to in his classic song “Imagine”. Of course, I can “dream big” but my dreams are not larger than life, they could be adequately described as unextraordinary. Hard work does not alter the ability of my subconscious, and that should have been specified. 

Riley Power is a Humor Columnist at The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at humor@cavalierdaily.com.

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