“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
I grew up surrounded by people who didn’t think like me. When I was in Primary School, I used to be the girl whose nose was buried in books during recess while the other children wrestled knee-deep in mud, playing and laughing without a care in the world. While their escape was in a playful game of catch or a friendly match of soccer, I found my escape in the magic of words and I would so often retreat into worlds beyond my reach, breathing each alphabet in like the most hypnotic, dizzying scent. While my friends went out to see movies, I’d stay home and bake like a mad scientist as I didn’t have a recipe book. I remember my first batch of gingerbread men cookies…boy were they horrible! My sister had a few friends over that day and one of them had the heart to try one of my cookies and he told me it was delicious! (He lied, of course, I ate one of them myself and couldn’t bring myself to swallow.) That lie was the best, sweetest lie anyone could have ever told me. That lie propelled my dreams. That lie gave me the courage to believe in myself and I truly believed that I could do anything I put my little hopeful heart to.
I got into trouble once for running out of class: my one and only instance of rebellion. I was a member of the Pets Club and one of our hamsters had gone missing, so I saw it as my duty to abandon Math class in search of Chip. I never found him, and my Math teacher never smiled at me again. I often saw beauty and worth in things others didn’t: I didn’t excel in most of my subjects at school but English was always my first and greatest love. Strangely enough, English was a subject none of my other classmates took seriously. Their focus was always on Science or Math so I always felt like I didn’t measure up.
When I grew a little older, I still couldn’t find my place in the world. I was called Bubble Girl by many in Secondary School because I often seemed to be living in my own solitary world. It was a wondrous world inhabited by lawless creatures and eternal sunshine. I didn’t need anyone to be happy because I had my own dreams. I wanted to be a poet. I wanted to write. Then I got lost.
The pressure of society must have gotten to me because I made the biggest mistake of my life and chose to pursue a diploma in Biotechnology. I was an utter failure at it of course, because I often skipped classes and chose to play my guitar or write instead. When I was present at classes, my mind would drift off on its own and it would float through story ideas and poetry inspirations. I knew I was meant for more.
When I was 19, I decided to pursue baking. Cue late nights of recipe testing, cake catastrophes and melting disasters. I knew I wasn’t good, but I also knew I could be good. My mother was there with me through it all: her fingers have been stained with food colouring like muddied rainbows and her eyes have seen me through every cake triumph. While I am at a wonderful place now when it comes to baking, I haven’t forgotten my first and biggest dream of being a published writer. Moments between mixing batter and lining pans are spent dreaming of stories and characters, and moments before bedtime are spent reading and gaining inspiration. People around me exclaim “you’re a baker now, you’ve achieved your dream!”, but little do they know my dreams will always multiply and will always be targets dangled in front of my eyes, propelling me to run, to chase, to soar.
So be it putting a pen to paper or putting a cake in the oven, I know life has so much more to offer and I am ever grateful to myself for having the courage to follow my heart even though its compass was pointing in the opposite direction of where everyone else was headed. If you’ve been told you’re weird or quirky or you don’t fit in, I hope you have the courage to smile because standing out will be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.