If we are to pursue our dreams, sacrifices have to be made. Haven’t we all heard that before? Often the most cliched phrases resemble closest to truth, for good reason. The years studying overseas have provided stern tests of character, because for every carrot-on-a-stick I’ve gotten my hands on, there was always something holding me back I had to get rid of. To get something you want, chances are you’ll have to give up something else in return. How do you make that choice? Only one bona fide question to ask yourself — how much you want it?
Not long ago, my whole Michigan experience was on the line, even before I stepped on the US-bound airplane. The options were to begin work on a relationship with someone I loved tremendously, or to fulfill this boyhood dream of exploring a new world far, far away. One or the other. Then, I foolhardily believed floating two dreams on one cloud was well within capability. But over the seasons, I naturally came to the above-mentioned conclusion, that sacrifices have to be made. True enough, I’ve conquered Michigan, but lost someone dear whom I will never reclaim.
Now that my decision to go abroad and leave everything behind had been made, I couldn’t expect this drive to grind to a sudden halt. Many of my friends now know I’m a sabre fencer, but I’ve seldom described the kind of sacrifices I had to make to jump from a complete noob to someone who can hold his own with a sword. The memories are sketchy, but the daily practices, trudging up and down Hill St every night — often in sub-zero temperatures in the Winter — wiped out any chance to socialize with the Singaporeans in my first two years here. Most of them congregated at the north campus dorms (where the majority lived), and over time that meant their bond only grew stronger as I drifted away from the raft like a rotten and rusty plank.
Was it worth it? More importantly, did I fly with that coveted cloud nine? Thankfully, I did, one year ahead of schedule. I merely wanted to fence for Michigan, but who would’ve guessed we would defend our national title in 2007, with little me part of the winning squad. But fairy-tales have their endings, especially in real life. The 2008 Nationals this past weekend wasn’t as sweet, with Michigan coming in 3rd overall, on top of my horrid form on Sunday. With that, a dream has come and gone; chalk it up to experience. It’s been a blast, and despite the heart-breaking fall of the curtain, these are memories I’ll take to my grave and beyond.
But sterner tests lie ahead, those that require greater sacrifices. How much do I want to be with the one I care for the most? The stakes are high, and the altar may call for rather juicy lambs to slaughter. My parents have been bugging me to take up Columbia‘s offer, but I would sacrifice that to go to the closer Northwestern. Their only argument is the ‘I’ factor (Ivy League, that is), which is of paramount importance to old-school thinking. My desire to once again desert every thing and leave for Columbia is lower than a billionaire’s need for money – good to have, but wanting it is a whole different ball game. But whatever sacrifices that have to be made, I just hope I’ll have the courage to make them and serve it up on a plate.
Into God’s hands.