“Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true” – this sentence comes back to me like a boomerang. On the occasion of the Dreamer Day, a few words about dreams.
Recently, seven years after a joint drama project, a friend contacted me. She asked if I would like to participate in an interview for Radio Nowy Świat (a new Polish online radio with great journalists) about dreams.
She said that she was constantly admiring my courage to make my dreams come true and would like to talk to me about my dreams. And since September 8 is the Dreamer Day, all the pieces fit together.
It was really nice and I agreed to the interview
We started the conversation with nothing but positives. With the fact that dreams are needed and neither of us could imagine life without them. That they are our driving force. That they change our perception of reality. But with time it got more and more serious. Until at some point one of us recalled the phrase:
„Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true”
And that’s the topic for today. The price of dreams. On the example of my stay in Terceira.
In October 2014, I first heard of Terceira’s existence. In June 2015, I went there on vacation for the first time. And I fell in love with this island. In January 2016 (in the middle of the Azorean winter) I went for another vacation. And in January 2017, I moved there. Initially with a plan to stay in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean only for 3 months. I have been here for over 3 years.
Dreams do not come true, one makes dreams come true
I love to dream. But a dream without the will to fulfil it and without hard work is often just a dream. And that’s okay, not all dreams have to be fulfilled. But if we really care about one of them, instead of waiting for a miracle, it’s better to roll up our sleeves. Open our eyes wide, look for opportunities, talk to people, act. Dreams do not come true, one makes dreams come true. If we want to achieve something, we must start working on it today.
Will it take time to work on our dream? Sure it will. But that time will pass whether we act or sit with our arms folded. If we act, the passing time will bring us closer to the desired goal, not farther away.
Dreams must be confronted with reality
The phrases that „you can do anything” and „if you want, you are able to reach the stars” sound beautiful. But it’s bullshit. Not everything is possible, not everything can be achieved. But we can achieve a lot. If we want and if we act. And if we check how our dreams relate to reality.
What happened to me between June 2015 and January 2017? Well, especially at my place of work, everyone knew that I was sighing for the Azores. That I was physically in Poland, but my thoughts circled around a small island in the Atlantic Ocean. And from January 2016 – even more. But I knew that working opportunities in the Azores were next to nothing, that I couldn’t move without making sure I had a job first. I responded to various job offers, but never even got a confirmation that my message was received. I didn’t speak Portuguese, I lived on the other side of Europe – what was I expecting?
Until one time there appeared an opportunity
I read a job offer on a Facebook profile of a friend of mine, I took part in a job interview, got accepted – and the next day I resigned from my job in Poland.
I spent the months until my departure, considering my decision. And with each passing moment I was more and more afraid of what will happen. I was leaving my family, friends, work, place of residence, hobbies. I was leaving everything that was familiar to me and that I liked for one big unknown. And the worst part was that I couldn’t rationally explain my decision. I couldn’t calm my family down, couldn’t explain to my friends why I was doing it.
All I knew was that if I didn’t try, I’d be sorry for the rest of my life
And I will think for the rest of my life: „What if?” I didn’t want to live like this. I didn’t want to live with the awereness that I had missed the chance that life had given me. Because one thing is working for a dream, another – eyes wide open to what life suggests to us. „Catching a wave,” my friend surfer told me.
But the decision to make my dream come true brought a lot of pain and a lot of tears
First of all, I was aware that I had hurt my loved ones against my will. My decision was painful for the people most important to me, who I didn’t want to hurt for anything in the world. I carried the weight of the awareness of their pain on my shoulders. (Until I also felt, and they felt that I was simply happier in the Azores. And I can give them much more than I was able to give in Poland. Because I am able to give it from the bottom of my joyful heart. ).
Second, I missed people a lot. As I mentioned in the article „On a swing” – I was straddling. One foot in Poland, the other in Terceira. In fact, neither here nor there. The longing for my relatives was so enormoues that it didn’t allow me to function normally. And at the same time, it closed me off from relations with people living on the island. When making new friends, I felt like I was cheating on my friends from Poland. And even though today I know it’s not like that – I lived with guilt for a long time. (By the way, do you also have an impression that guilt is a very Polish trait?)
Third, I found myself in a place I didn’t know, without language, with only a few people who were here ready to help me. I didn’t know how to live on the island, is the easiest way to put it. I learned everything from scratch. I missed my familiar products in stores, the subway operating late into the night, the cinemas operating all day long, and the people to whom I didn’t have to explain everything from scratch every time.
Nothing was as I expected
I had very interesting jobs in Poland. Here, suddenly, at the beginning, I was given the most basic tasks, because I was new and didn’t know the subject. During meetings with friends, conversations in English turned smoothly into conversations in Portuguese. And I was sitting with a silly smile. And I gratefully accepted any help in translating from Portuguese into English.
Was this what I expected? Definitely not.
Just like I didn’t expect an overwhelming Azorean winter – even though I had already spent one winter vacation on the island. I wasn’t expecting a fungus on the wall. I didn’t expect walking around the house in winter in a jacket and waiting 10 minutes for hot water in the shower. I didn’t expect the feeling of claustrophobia after a few months spent on the island. Or that in summer I would sometimes find it hard to breathe. Literally. Because of the level of moisture in the air.
I didn’t expect that my relatives would undergo surgeries during my absence. That my cousin would die and I wouldn’t be able to go to the funeral. That I would see my friend’s children already grown up, not in a baby wrap. That I would be gone to my sister’s hen party. That I would miss countless birthdays, meetings and holidays. That my relatives would remember events in which I didn’t participate. That being with my family for Christmas, I would be afraid to get angry about anything, because I was there only for a short time and everything should be perfect during this time.
I really didn’t expect this. In my mind’s eye, I saw a small beautiful island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and a quiet, idyllic life. It was only on the spot that I found out that every dream has its price. And its dark side.
Knowing all this, would I do the same today?
Yes. Without missing a beat. I have experienced many difficult but also many good moments here. During this time I have learned more than I would have learned in 10 years in Poland, living my „normal” life *.
It was not always pleasant and idyllic. It has not always been easy (it’s not now either). But it was worth it. I’m glad that I listened to my intuition. That I listened to my inner voice telling me, „Try it.” If I hadn’t tried, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
As Shakespeare said, „Life is neither better nor worse than our dreams – it’s just completely different”
Do dreams come with risks? They do. Can everything go wrong? It can. But does it mean we should stop dreaming? Absolutely not!
Dream and make your dreams come true! I wish you a lot of strength! And I’m sending you warm greetings from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!
* I put „normal” in quotation marks, because I can already see the comments: „Milena, your two courses at the university, constant travelling, working with musicians, working with refugees and theater is really such a normal life?” For me, yes, for me it was my normal life. Although now from the perspective I can see that it was more filled with dreams that I was fulfilling one after another than I thought at a time.