Sunday, January 30, 2011


I believe that it's important to have dreams. A life that is bereft of dreaming must be pretty bleak. I believe in setting a goal, working like crazy to achieve it, and then enjoying the feeling of accomplishment once you do. And then, of course, coming up with a new dream. 

My first big dream was to leave my country. My sense of self was incompatible with the way of being everybody else practiced and enjoyed. I felt different all the time, and not in a good way. It took two years, but I accomplished this goal. It's been twelve years but I never went back, not even for a short visit. My country and I are very happy without each other.

Then, my goal was to do a PhD in Hispanic Studies at an Ivy League university. I achieved that goal, even though the experience of being at that school was a lot less attractive than what I had imagined in my dreams. Actually, it was pretty nasty. But now I have my diploma and I mention it at every opportunity because after all the pain and suffering it needs to bring me some benefits.

After that, my dream was to join the academic world as a professor. Now that I have achieved it, I cannot believe my own luck in having chosen this wonderful profession that is so rewarding. It might be freezing cold outside, but I can't wait to get up in the morning and run to work through the snow or the rain. 

So now I have a new dream. I want to make a really big impact on my field of knowledge. My former adviser wrote about me, "In ten years, everybody in our field will know Clarissa's name." This was all the more valuable given that she really disliked me the entire time I was her student. So that's what I want. I want everybody in my field to recognize my name. 

I believe that it is completely within one's reach to achieve anything they propose. So if in ten years' time you come back to the blog and see that I haven't achieved this goal, there will be one person to blame: me. I recognize fully that the only thing that can prevent me from realizing this goal is my own personal set of limitations: laziness, inertia, passivity, lack of perseverance. I'm putting this in writing in a public forum specifically so that I don't feel tempted in the future to wiggle out of this and blame my failure on circumstances, bad lack, discrimination, a conspiracy of evil people against me, etc. 

I just wonder what my dream will be after this one comes true.


Tom Carter said...

Clarissa, it was refreshing to read this: "...if in ten years' time you come back to the blog and see that I haven't achieved this goal, there will be one person to blame: me." In this era of entitlements, empty self-esteem, refusal to accept responsibility, and class warfare it's all too rare to see people recognize their personal responsibility for outcomes in their lives.

Clarissa said...

A temptation to blame the universe for my own failings is definitely there. :-) But I find that it's a lot more empowering to recognize that what I achieve or don't is a product of my actions.

Pagan Topologist said...

I still believe that this is an oversimplification. If someone, say, gets hit by a meteorite and killed instantly, this person is not going to fulfill any further dreams. I refuse to say that it is the person's fault that this happened.

Clarissa said...

Yes, but if I get killed by a meteorite there will be no blog in 10 years. So people won't be able to come here and check whether I have achieved what I wanted or not. :-)

Jonathan said...

I'm pretty sure you can do it, because most people are in the mentality of trying to do "enough" to get tenure, or talking about research "demands." Many academics blame their circumstances for their lack of research productivity. You could make a long list of why you couldn't publish, if you wanted to, but instead you do the work to get published.

Anonymous said...

"Life…is an enormous lottery: the prizes are few, the failures innumerable. Out of the sighs of one generation are kneaded the hopes of the next. That's life." -- Machado De Assis

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Jonathan. Coming from you this means a lot. Academically, you are what I want to be one day. Thanks for the encouragement!!

I love blogging.