Making Dreams Come True in Uncertain Times

Elly Aylwin-Foster avatar

by Elly Aylwin-Foster |

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Last week, I introduced this column to share my experiences while working with cystic fibrosis (CF): the highs, the lows, the mid-meeting IVs — those kinds of things.

In this column, I want to focus on the future; specifically, the dreams that I have of my future.

Big dreams got me to where I am. I have big, stupid, awesome dreams to thank for every one of my life achievements. Some of these wins were career-related and others were not, but the principle is the same.

Without big dreams, I wouldn’t have traveled solo around Cuba at age 18, learning Spanish as I went.

I wouldn’t have made a career move into a highly competitive role in advertising.

I wouldn’t have climbed five mountains in 12 hours in the Lake District in Cumbria. (We’re talking British peaks here — not the highest of the high, but designated mountains all the same.) 

And I wouldn’t have made my second career move into the freelance writing world in pursuit of one of my biggest dreams yet: to be an author. And those, reader, are just the dreams that came true — I have twice as many that haven’t.

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It’s easy to forget big dreams when you’re feeling insignificant. As a member of the just-over-5-feet club, I find it especially easy to feel small. But recently, I’ve been feeling that way not because of my stature, but on account of my smaller ambitions.

I’ve had a rocky six months on the lungs front. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the things I can’t do and have been more cautious in my plans for the near future.

With my first-ever bronchoscopy booked for 10 days’ time, followed by an investigational two-week admission, some of that caution is rational. 

As a newly self-employed person, I wonder how it will impact my income? For almost the first time, I face a period of illness without the balm of sick pay to speed my recovery. What if I don’t get any freelance assignments when I’m better? What if I lose my skills and confidence while I’m in the hospital? Perhaps trying to succeed on my own terms was a mistake.

While my financial worries are prudent, I am not sure the other limitations I’ve placed on myself are doing me any favors.

I live in Cambridge, a city famous for its intellectual heritage. Yet it’s been months since I’ve felt inspired by my potential.

I’ve stopped having idle thoughts about whether I might one day obtain a master’s degree. I no longer dream of being an expert mountain hiker. Let’s be real — how could any of us with such an unpredictable disease set such ambitious goals if we’re not sure we can see them through?

But the thing is, the dreams that came true in the past were almost always imagined at my most challenging times. When I felt trapped and hopeless, I applied for exciting jobs, planned charity challenges, and pictured myself as I wanted to be. In fact — and I doubt I’m the only one who has done this — I have often hatched my most harebrained plans when I’ve been in the hospital.

It’s important to understand that not all of them came true. And that doesn’t matter. Sometimes CF, relationships, money, or simply life can get in the way. Sometimes our dreams change as we age. But in the moments I dreamed up each and every plan, I believed that it could come true. I knew with determination, ambition, and a dose of good luck, I could be successful. And I knew that belief was what helped me aim high in the first place.

Now, I know this sounds crazy. But who knows, maybe another hospital admission is exactly what I need to recapture those big, bold, and beautiful dreams.


Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


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