And I will write my dreams with purple chalk upon a giant chalkboard


“What do you dream to be?” the little girl asked me as we sifted through her human anatomy book. The question caught me off guard; specifically the way she had strung together the sentence like a string of pearls.

She was learning English, little by little, and every Saturday morning I was helping her. Sweet but shy, the little girl from Burundi had come to America just six months before and was now donned as a “refugee.” Our tutoring sessions were a mixture of lessons from her tattered textbooks, where I would teach her the sugary sounds of vowels and consonants and we would engage in games over flashcards. She savored each sound in a manner uncommon to anything that I had ever seen before.

What do you dream to be? It was different than anything I had ever heard before, not the typical “what will you do when you get out of college,” but a greater possibility of dreaming and being. Granted she had phrased the question this way because it was the only way she knew how, but I still regard it as the most beautiful question that has ever been presented to me; a question that opened my eyes to my full potential.

Perhaps too often we forget to dream. Dreaming is packed up and put away in the attic with the old stuffed animals and finger-paint pictures from childhood, collecting cobwebs as we head off to college to study hard for a good occupation. We prepare ourselves for the practical lifestyle, one where we pay off the loans that are already taunting us from a distance, one where we can call ourselves “successful.” However, the real question is, how many of us are working towards the dreams we had as children? Although there are those dreams that we grow out of like old winter coats, the dreams to be the astronaut or the ballerina, there are still those dreams in all of us that fill our souls with a sense of purpose. These dreams fire us up and give us a passion that cannot be summed up even with the entire vocabulary of a dictionary.

I never admit this to anyone, but when I came to Assumption College I forfeited my dreams. My junior year of high school I began the intimidating task of finding a college that would be the perfect fit. Most people would turn to the guidance counselor, the parent or the all-common CollegeBoard website. I turned to the editor of Seventeen Magazine, my role model, Atoosa Rubenstein. I spent days constructing a letter to her, pouring my whole self into this letter as  expressed my hopes and dreams to become a successful writer and one day see my name imprinted on the New York Time’s Bestseller list.

I have carried this dream throughout childhood. My dream was born when I began writing a weekly newspaper for my neighbors and quickly became infatuated with “Hannah’s News.” My dream learned to walk as I wrote novels for my family members every Christmas. I would spend the nine months before Christmas writing elaborate stories and the last two months copying, binding and publishing my work. Now I was ready to go off to college and let my dream grow up with me.

To my surprise, I received a letter back a few short weeks later. It was a personal and heartfelt response where the editor of Seventeen gave me all the advice I could need to start my quest for the perfect college. Her practical advice: Come to school in New York City, the best place in the country for writing internships that would really get my foot in the door.

This advice carried me through the selection process. I was adamant over attending school in the Big Apple. But when it came down to a choice I did not feel a sense of comfort at New York University or Fordham, I found this comfort in Worcester, Massachusetts. I wish I could say that was that, that I found my happy ending in the rolling hills of the Assumption College campus. But for two years I did just the opposite.

I gave up on writing. I refused to write creatively in anyway. I disregarded any pleas by the school news paper to write an article. I could not bring myself to write because I didn’t deserve to. I was not in New York City so I had failed my dream already. Regardless of if people would encourage to pick up the pen and paper, I repeated in my head over and over again, “If you really wanted this dream then you should have gone to New York City, Hannah.”

Why do we do this? Why do we take the dreams that we protect so much in our own hearts and then we are the ones who shatter them into a million little pieces? A lot of the time we want to draw our dreams upon a chalkboard that is bigger than the sky and then painstakingly erase them ourselves. Why, because we don’t deserve these dreams. We are not good enough for these dreams. They are stupid. They are unrealistic. They are childish.

But they are ours. They are unique and handcrafted by us. They keep us up at night with possibility. They make us smile. We can shovel our doubts and our ideas of limitation upon them if we want, and watch them struggle and be buried by the “can’t”s and the “won’t”s. But if we do this, if we ignore our dreams, there is a good chance that we will never pick them up again. They may leave us forever. At the end of the day that is our loss and no one else’s. We are the ones that have to live with our unfulfilled dreams. And so we make a decision. We pick them up, we hold them up, we give ourselves up to them.

So I am not in New York City. So what? I have a fire in my heart and a passion in my soul. I have found something that fulfills me every single day. I don’t need a specific location to be a writer, to reach people and to inspire others. I can do that right here and right now. I will take care of my dreams. They were given to me for a reason and the least I can do is make them a reality.

And so like the beautiful girl from Burundi who posed the question to me, I pose it to all of you: What do you dream to be…?

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12 thoughts on “And I will write my dreams with purple chalk upon a giant chalkboard

  1. Seventeen’s like one of the biggest girls’ magazines around isn’t it? It’s pretty cool that the editor wrote back to you in person. And here comes my tuppence’s worth:

    What is apparent to that lady, very successful in her field is apparent to us also. That you have a talent, and perhaps much more importantly, a fervour for writing. Why treat it as something you have to earn? It’s not a privilege, I would say it’s a right.
    I don’t know why you picked Massachusetts over NYC but I daresay you had your reasons and that they were bloody good ones. But writing doesn’t necessarily mean the WSJ or NY Times does it? If those hard hitting papers aren’t for you, there are always magazines, books. You have a gift HK, and I really hope you find the right outlet for it, or it’d be a terrible waste.

    1. Stephen,

      As always your kind and thoughtful words have touched me at my core. Thank you for making my morning with your comment. I have such a great respect for you and it means a lot to receive such praise from a fellow writer.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  2. Hannah’s News! Yes, we all knew back then that you were destined to be a writer. It doesn’t matter where you are living, you have that gift – It’s in your soul. I hope that you continue to share that gift with all of us 🙂

  3. Miss Hannah,

    I miss you so much and I want to tell you I love reading your blog- you truly have a gift and every single one of your entries is so inspiring. I have no doubt in my mind that your writing will continue to fulfill you and anyone who is lucky enough to come across it. You bring beauty and inspiration through your words and I am so, so proud of you! You allow me to take a minute and think about all of the things that seem to slip by in the busy day-to-day routine, and all of the things so many of us take for granted. I can’t wait to see you again and hear about all of the amazing things you will undoubtedly accomplish. ❤

    All my love,
    LC

    1. LC:

      I miss you as well. And we should definitely meet soon to get dinner. You are one the special ones at school who has always inspired me and I will always look up to you. If it were not for you I would have never began writing this much. I am so lucky to know you and have you in my life. I miss you.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  4. Strange how your writing always seems to speak to me at the exact momen that I need to hear it.

    I too want to be a writer and since graduating that is all I have told people I am working towards. Yet there is a part of me that really believes that no one will ever be interested in what I want to say. Ever. So with all of these articles I have written I can’t seem to send them anywhere. I chalk it up to a fear of rejection- but I think its more a fear of coming to the realization that my writing doesn’t even warrant a response. What a hard thing to say.

    Here’s to hoping that tomorrow I can work up the courage to send my writing out into the world.

    1. Ok, so here is what I think… you need to believe in yourself and go for it. This is your passion and what ultimately makes you happy, don’t let that slip away because you are afraid of what others think. It is NOT about them. Let your passion guide ya girl! Thanks for commenting.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  5. i agree your dreams are meant for anywhere & often times we can’t see how things were meant to play out it’s all about faith

  6. Hannah,

    You are a writer. Period. God has given you a remarkable gift and God will help you find the outlet…no matter where you are or whether it’s a magazine, a book, etc. In fact, God’s already provided you with an outlet. This blog. You’re writing, inspiring, and being an inspiring writer already. You are being you, being you well, and sharing your gift with others. We, your readers, are the beneficiaries. Thanks, HK. 🙂

    Much love,
    Steph

  7. Hi !
    My name is Paresh Jain from Bangalore India.
    This is truly inspiring.
    I run a company in bangalore and need to write down my dreams for our company.
    So was looking on how to write down my dreams on paper with words that can inspire the entire team and work for the dream.
    and co incidentally i found this. Just couldnt stop reading.

    you thoughts / words are simply inspiring.

    I have found something that fulfills me every single day – having a dream and living them.

    This is just wonderful and touched me the most.
    congrats and keep it going…….
    take care and good luck,
    paresh jain

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