Astronaut

“What’s my dream?” I said, nervously in front of the class. “Well… I want to be an Astronaut.”

The whole class erupted in laughter.

“Only BOYS can be Astronauts!”  I heard someone say.

“Yeah, and even if girls could do it, you’re not smart enough!”

“Settle down class,” the teacher said “Tell us more about your dream job.”

“When you’re an Astronaut, you get sent into space to try to find and explore other planets. My dad said he’s gonna help me build a rocket ship in our back yard!”

A second wave of laughter arose from the class. That was in 3rd grade. You’d think that by now, I’d be used to people telling me my dreams can’t come true, but someone crushing your self-esteem never gets old. Even if I had moved on, I’ll never forget when it started.

“Stop daydreaming!” my mother snapped. “I’m trying to teach you something.”

She continued to write down the numbers on the ultra thin, yellowish I’ve-been-used-for-10-generations lined paper. I had a fractions test tomorrow.

“What did you say?” I asked, zoned out.

My mother sighed. I couldn’t help it! Math bored me. Math is boring. However, I do admit, I do daydream a lot. To some people, maybe even most, dreams don’t mean much. They’re just figments of our imagination, irrational thoughts that we wish would come true, but never do. To me, however, dreams are everything. Everything. They keep me moving towards my goals. They make sure that I sleep at night. They keep me sane.

The next day, as you would expect, I totally botched it. I failed more than I thought humanly possible. I died in there!

“How was your math test?” my mother asked.

“Umm, I didn’t do very well…”

“How are you supposed to become an Astronaut when you don’t even know how to do fractions? You have to pay more attention in class! With the grades you’re pulling in math, you might as well give up on becoming one.”

I mean, my mom had a point. I hated math, so why was it my dream to go into a math-related field? Well I love space, but with my limited drive with math, my mom was right. Even if my dream was irrational, that doesn’t mean I didn’t still try to achieve it. Sometimes, even now, I’m convinced that if I keep trying, I will be the odd 1%, the one that gets struck by lightning on a walk down to the 7-11; but you know, in a good way.

In my case though, becoming an Astronaut was really what I cared about at the moment, I didn’t listen to my mom about getting better in math. I thought I would get lucky. When I got older though, the math got harder with age. As it did, I realized that I couldn’t depend on luck to pull me through. In order to achieve my dreams, I had to study. I had to study, hard.

I pushed through each test, and even did more math than the teacher assigned. I worked really hard to improve myself, but still felt like I would fail, just like I did before. I still felt like I would fail my parents, fail my friends, but most importantly, fail myself.

Eventually, it came; and I’m not talking about some standardized test that you get once in awhile, I’m talking about finals. Not just any finals, either. Grade 12 provincials, specifically. The grade I got on that test would determine the university I went to; assuming I would get into one at all.

I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

I had arrived at my school at 9:00 AM, sharp. My mom had lended me her lucky mechanical pencil, the one she wrote her provincial exams with. It still worked, but most of the designs had rubbed off of it, it had obviously been used a lot.

My hands were shaking in a cold sweat. The room smelled like it had just been painted. I resisted it, I really did. This was not the time to let my self-doubt consume me, no. This was important; the moment of truth. I shakily calculated formulas on scrap paper, ultra thin, yellowish, I’ve-been-used-for-10-generations, just I used to use in school. I coloured in each bubble on the scantron, double checked, triple checked, then handed it in.

I received my results in the mail, I had aced it.

“Your father and I are both so proud!” my mother said to me.

The following year, I attended ISU (international space university) and became a rocket scientist, continued to revolutionize rocket technology, loving my job every step of the way. Dreams are meant to be worked at, not just thought about. That just goes to prove that you can really achieve your dreams if you strive towards them.

Shoot for the stars, land on the moon.

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