As I daydream about riding off into the sunset at my desk, I can’t help but wonder if this is a life my younger self would be proud of. She had so many dreams, many of them unfulfilled. She wanted to meet aliens in space as the first “space cowgirl” and then bring peace to the universe through lasagna. In spite of these reasonable (but failed) aspirations, I like to think that she would still be proud of the person I’ve become. In moving towards these dreams, I became the kind of person who could accomplish anything.
Cooking with Passion
Becoming a professional chef was quickly thrown out of the equation when my parents “strongly advised” against it. However, I have always loved food and saving money, and cooking is the best way to accomplish both. Steak is my favorite food, and there is very little I would not do for a medium rare ribeye done correctly. Over time I have learned that quality matters over quantity, and I am capable of high quality. I researched different cows, cuts, and cooking methods. Every time I made a steak, I always found ways to improve because something was missing. I started sharing food with my friends to get more insight on what was missing, and I realized that I found a lot of joy watching them eat and enjoy what I had made for them. As I started preparing with other people in mind, my steaks got better. The idea that something I made could make another person happy is what fueled my cooking, and eventually every aspect of my life.
Flying with Resilience
My astronaut dreams were docked when someone told me I couldn’t go to space because I was a girl and because I wore glasses. While I eventually learned that the glasses part wasn’t true, I also learned that there was not much diversity in space exploration. Less than 15% of astronauts in the NASA program are women, and even less are people of color. I realized that I was going to have to work harder to get where I wanted to be. I still do not know where that is, but I know that each step I take matters. The work I do, no matter how mundane, is important, and I should put my everything into it. Even if I encounter failure, that is an opportunity to learn and continue on, not quit and turn around.
Riding with Confidence
Since I have only been to one rodeo, I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. What I gathered from my brief trip is that confidence is the difference between first and second place. The riders who looked a little shaky before mounting the horse ended up falling off sooner than those who seemed surer in their abilities. I recognized that the same principles apply in my life, so I started noticing the moments where I was more or less confident and then adjusting as necessary to get my desired outcome. This wasn’t always easy, but I knew that it’d be worth it in the end.
I think my dreams built me. By striving toward the career I wanted, I found that I became someone with the traits to be successful in those fields. I might not have landed anywhere near most of the dreams I had originally considered, but the skills I have developed in my aspirations have supported me throughout my life.