Say, “Yes.”

From time to time, I enjoy exploring the vast collection of questions on Quora written by people around the world. There, you’ll find out that people have secrets, cousins aren’t always just cousins, and ghosts might be real, but most important, Quora will teach you that everyone wants something. We’re tethered together by a common denominator–desire; desire to feel, excel, connect, be happy, whatever.

After a month or so of lurking, a question popped up in my feed that began to weigh on me.  They essentially asked the age-old question: should I just give up on my dream? The question was whether or not they could make it through the military not being the stereotypical, muscled meathead everyone thinks of because of movies. For some reason, I didn’t want this stranger to give up so easily, so this is what I replied:

“Neither was I when I signed up. People thought I was crazy when I told others what I was doing after high school. I also had to lose a lot of weight before I could ship out because I was fat, had never gone through ROTC so I was clueless, never did sports. I pretty much sat around, ate, and read all through high school. I’m also a 5′0 female. If I made it through, you can, too. I’m nothing special. I just wanted it bad enough. I still look back (discharged in 2011) and have no clue how I miracled my way through 6 years in the Army. I recommend doing PT before you join, though; basic was hell for me. I don’t know how I made it out alive. There are every type of people you can think of who join, not just your stereotypical alpha male. Don’t give up on your dream if this is it. Just know, it’s going to be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but one of the greatest.”

The purpose of this post is not to pat myself on the back; it’s all about what I can prove to hopefully shift someone’s perspective. Just from the fact that I made it through a huge goal–what could be seen as an impossible dream–and reaped the benefits on the other side, I can prove to you that if you don’t give yourself the option to quite, there’ll be two outcomes: you will succeed or you’ll get damn close. I made it through something that was one of the hardest, biggest, scariest things I have ever done in my life, on 90% pure determination and 10% luck (and probably pity from my drill instructors). But I made it through and as a result, I had an incredible, storybook adventure. I now work full-time from my home office and sometimes, I look at the box that I’ve put myself in and miss my younger, more daring self. Some days, I have to remind myself who I was, who I am, and who I can still be, as I shuffle toward some unknown outcome and unwritten future. . .just like everyone else.

Yes, there are delusional dreams and goals marked with insanity; you can just check out any singing contest to figure that one out. If you suck at your dream, fine. It just means your dream will take longer than you planned because you need to spend sweat-equity to get better, or your dream will be a hobby or side-hustle not what you do full-time. But, your dream can always be a big part of your life, if you let it.

It seems that a lot of people don’t pursue their dreams because they’re afraid to take the risks to pursue what they really want. I get it. I get trapped by my own fear and self-doubt, too. The future–heck, life in general–is scary and it’s scarier when you don’t have the extra time or resources to recover from the damages your mistakes can cause. I’m just like everyone else; I always have to remind myself that it’s okay to hope but, it’s never enough, and it’s okay to be afraid, but it benefits no one to be a coward.

Screw it. Death and monotony are right around the corner and what-ifs will always just be what-ifs, so the answer might as well be, “yes.” Yes, to yourself and what will fill your heart so full that you feel like you can fly. And a glaring, hearty “hell yes,” for those people who honestly don’t care to see you succeed.

Getting off my soap box. And I hope you have an amazing day!