March 2002
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Dare to Dream
By: Shoilee Khan, SNN Editor, Grade 12, John Fraser Secondary, Mississauga, ON

It was a beautiful scene: the inspiring melody of "Pomp and Circumstance" filled the auditorium as the graduates clad in flowing robes marched proudly across the front of the room. Fathers, chests swelling in pride and mothers smiling through tears of joy, sigh in remembrance of sweet memories of their "little ones". Teachers gaze in pride and admiration at their former students, nodding slightly as that one special student that each teacher has, walks past them. And oh—the graduates, upon receiving their diplomas—what a sight to be seen! Heads raised, standing tall and proud, their eyes glistening in tears of joy as that overwhelming sense of accomplishment rises within their souls, their hearts beating in perfect rhythmic motion with their fellow alumnae, the adrenaline pumping in their veins as they gracefully raise their ribbon-tied diplomas in the air and cheer---- years of effort, years of blood, sweat and tears, years of attempting high-risk endeavours---all this finally recognized. They had made it. This is the day that high school ends and the future begins. Finally, they would realize their visions. Finally, their dreams would come true.

How moving. I'm sure it brought tears to your eyes…you can stop puking now. Heading back to the dark and brooding world of reality, it's time to face the facts. Most students struggling through their last year of high school are terrified by counselors, teachers, not to mention parents, of the harsh, terrible, unsympathetic, world "out there." Caught up in the rush and eventual pandemonium of picking the right courses, "keeping your options open," thinking and rethinking whether this or that course is a wise choice, students are left frazzled and wondering if they'll actually "make it" in that cold, dark world of post high school reality.

WELL, all right, let's be fair…throughout a student's high school years, mounds of advice and guidance are generously given to all students to help prepare them for the vast world in which they are about to enter. Counselors practically wait hand and foot on students (metaphorically speaking) offering words of wisdom and careful guidance pertaining to each individual student's interests. Students pour over glossy university booklets with their parents who offer caring tidbits of advice, recommending this, or discouraging that… well, what's to complain about? We've got it made! Everything is perfect, right down to the glistening tears of joy. Right? Wrong!

It seems that in this mad mayhem of preparing adolescents for the world, the preparation often swerves a student's interests, rather, it causes a student's dreams to crash and burn, when they realize that their "dreams" are just that: dreams; that are far from reality. Faced with well-intentioned parents and other wise folk who say, "you have to be practical", "how are you going to support yourself?" or the classic, "you want to be a what???", students are often left feeling their dreams are not fit for survival in the harsh, cruel world of reality, where dreams are tossed aside in favour of money. Ahhh, the money. Whatever happened to "love makes the world go round?" In today's society, it's money that sets the world spinning and unfortunately for the majority, it also measures a person's status in society. You got the dough? You got a life! Although some aren't willing to admit, it's true: success is often measured by the size of your paycheck—that's the condition of the world "out there" and translated to a student, "if you want to ‘make it' you have to make it"—make money that is. In our fast paced society, dreams are fluff and fantasy—childlike trivialities to amuse our little fancies as we grow. Our heart's desire, our true calling is often shunned: you do what you can to raise yourself up, to reach that top notch position, or make enough money to buy an eight-bedroom house complete with a four-car garage. Keep pushing until you're at the top of your materialistic mountain of desires. Dreams are left in the dust in favour of "making it", "surviving" in that wonderful world we call reality. Students often end up choosing a path in life that is a path that's set out for them, a path to money and so-called survival and success. But what happens when those few, who do indeed make it to the ‘top' reach their ultimate height? What then? You have the money, the hot shot job, you have everything, you survived, you made it. It's a cliché and everyone knows it, but hardly anyone heeds it: "money can't buy happiness".

Fellow students! Look into the future. No matter how ‘successful' or perfect a certain path of life may seem, does it truly make you happy? No amount of success, money or victory can bring that true sense of accomplishment and happiness to a person unless they are doing what they love, and all people love making their dreams come true. Of all the advice a parent, a counselor or a teacher could give, the best advice would be to "choose your own path." Follow the dreams you have and make them reality and not the other way around.