• Karen Caswell

Follow Your Dreams

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A milestone event occurred in our family this week – our eldest son graduated from high school! It was an exciting and busy week, with final exams, the Formal, Graduation Ceremony and one last Assembly followed by the obligatory beach swim in school uniform.



Listening to the Principal’s speech during the Graduation Ceremony, many of the things he said got me thinking. He shared the story of his journey to becoming a high school principal…which didn’t begin with a dream to be one. The message he conveyed was that while having a dream is wonderful, don’t be defined by the dream you have at 17 or 18. Your life has just begun. Plan the steps needed to achieve your dream, however also keep your eyes and hearts open, and be willing to travel an unexpected path if the opportunity arises, or a new dream inspires you.


Upon reflecting on this message, I realised that whilst I had a dream at 17, which I achieved – to be a teacher – the dream ended there. I didn’t really think beyond the completion of my degree and the attainment of a job. For many years, this was the extent of my ‘dream’, there was no further thought about my goals, what I wanted to achieve, or what was the legacy I wanted to leave behind. In reality, what I had was a vague concept of a dream, not an actual target that I could state, or something that drove me. Of course, at all times, I worked hard and did the best for my students, but further thoughts about my dream weren’t at the forefront of my mind. These didn’t come until many, many years later, and after numerous life experiences. But that’s okay, we don't have to have everything figured out when we are 17, or 27, or even 37. However, now I do have a dream again. I know what I want my legacy to be, and I am intentionally working towards achieving it.


For my son, his friends, and all the other students who graduated this week, I hope the message they heard is that dreams don’t have to define you. They can change as you grow and experience life. It’s important to have a direction you want to head, and goals you want to achieve, but they don’t have to be set in stone. A new dream can inspire you at any stage of your life…even 25 years after you graduate high school!


MY message to my son is to go out and live life! Seek as many diverse experiences as you can. Go to as many different places as you can. Show kindness to others, and demonstrate integrity in all that you do. Be grateful. Commit wholeheartedly, don’t be afraid of failing, and know that you CAN change your mind. Dream big and aspire high. Strive for excellence. Live life with no regrets. But most of all, I want to pass on the biggest lesson I've learned in my life - promise yourself you will be true to your authentic self. Always be YOU.



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