Dreams versus Reality

Dreams are something that I think drive all of us; they lead us move our lives forward and achieve what we want in life. Our culture emphasises the idea that we should chase our dreams and that as long as we work hard we can achieve our dreams. Well, unfortunately as I grow up I’m discovering that it’s not always that simple.

I’ve always had big goals and dreams for my life and future, but reality seems to get in the way.

I want to get married, I want to travel (lots!), I want to own a house, I want to live overseas, I want to have a child (note: only one), I want to undertake postgraduate study, I want to work as an editor (in book publishing), I want to complete a PhD (preferably at Cambridge), I want to have an amazing career,  I want more tattoos, I want a cat, I want enough money to be comfortable and I want to do it all in the company of my partner. Not too much to ask right?

Well, recently I’ve started to learn that you can’t have everything. This is a hard truth for me since when I want something I want it almost to the point of obsession and work very hard to get it. I’ve been planning and creating tables of postgraduate study options for a couple of years now, mostly focusing on options in the UK. For my PhD I had wanted to focus on Old Norse and medieval Iceland for which there is little (now almost no) avenue to pursue this in Australia. Ideally Cambridge and their Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic would be the place to do postgraduate research. Now that I’m almost finished Honours (finally handing in on 16 May) I have started seriously considering my options. However, I’ve been faced with the fact that if I want to move to the UK to study I would have to wait at least another 2 years for financial reasons and partner related reasons. I’ve also had to consider for medical reasons I may not cope with studying overseas. I also don’t know that I want to wait another 2 years before starting a PhD (which is 3-4 years in itself).

These considerations have led me to the difficult decision to start my PhD in Australia next year, at my same university. There was a lot of pain and tears in this decision. I don’t mean that an Australian degree is worth less, because it’s not. In my field of study though there are many more opportunities overseas. It was extremely difficult to let go of one of the big dreams that I had. I didn’t want to give up on it, I wanted to have everything I ever wanted with no compromises. But sadly, that’s not how life works. Life is about compromise and sacrifice. Sometimes that means compromising one dream for another, forgetting about one aspiration for the sake of something else. This has been a hard truth to learn and I’m still not completely sure I’ve made the right decision. But I’m slowly coming to terms with my choice and will have to learn to not have regrets. On a positive note I have made the resolution to still live overseas, but only after I finish studying.

NB: If I do change my mind I can downgrade my PhD to an MPhil then complete my PhD elsewhere, but then that would take up a few extra years as well.