Dare to Dream Again

“Suddenly you’re 21 and you’re screaming along in the car to all the songs you listened to when you were sad in middle school and everything is different but everything is good.”

I’ve always thought there was something about the music you grow up to listening and for me, it was music in the 2000s. Tonight was one of those nights that I wanted something familiar. Plugging in my earphones, I played the High School Musical playlist on Spotify (admit it, you were once crazy about it too), my head in the clouds, while on my one hour bus ride home. And all these sentimental feelings suddenly washed over me in an overwhelming, nostalgic sensation, as memories scurried across my mind. Do you remember that song you used to listen to over and over in your teenage years? Or the one that you promised yourself would be your wedding song someday? How about the one you made your personal anthem? It wasn’t just the songs themselves that I loved, but the memories attached to them. Hilary Duff was the girl-next-door I wanted to be like. Crazily jumping and dancing on the bed for hours with my girlfriends until we were exhausted from screaming to her Wanted CD when it first came out was the highlight of my weekends in my elementary years. Then it was Gabriella Montez. I wanted to dress like her and have cheekbones like her. My sister and I would rehearse High School Musical songs during our long road trips with our parents as the audience, blasting the tunes and attempting to harmonize even when we didn’t know how to. How faithful my sister and I were in always trying to find the most up-to-date Disneymania CD in local libraries, memorizing the names of the hottest Disneychannel stars and spending days perfecting the “And you’re watching Disneychannel” line in between commercials so that I would be prepared if I make it on there someday. When the lights dimmed and couples began to slow dance to Mariah Carey’s Bye Bye during my middle school grad, I listened to the lyrics and felt the reality of eighth grade coming to an end. I yelled to Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend and The Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way for years with childhood friends, sang Jay Sean’s Down in the parking lot when my friends and I thought we were too cool for Chinese school, listened to Hillsong’s ‘Til I See You when I cried myself to sleep, repeatedly replayed Regina Spektor’s The Call when I couldn’t swallow my emotions after the Narnia movies, fangirled to David Archuleta’s self-titled CD while dreaming of someone singing those lyrics to me, and sang to all of Against the Current’s songs when I partied in the kitchen by myself with my personal anthem (still) being Outsiders because “outside, we’re lonely but we are free.” I could continue on and on… Somehow, I remember all these details.

There’s something about songs that spark inspiration, memories, and feelings that relate to the present or are brought back from long ago. They can remind you of who you were and how you first felt during that time. This depth of history and connection I felt as my HSM playlist kept playing was reminding me of who I was in the past – someone who dared to dream. Whether it was daydreaming about the the person I would grow up to be, the person I would marry, or the things I would accomplish, I have always been a dreamer. But somehow along the way, I gave up on those dreams. They seemed too good to be true and too long to get to… So wanting to catch up with everyone else, I set lower standards for myself to achieve so I can at least say I’ve checked something off the list. But what about those big dreams I once had? Why have I agreed to settle for less? Is it the pressure of society or the pressure of time? What is with the hurry in life that I give up my dreams and trade them in for complacency. I want to be daring in my dreams because I trust not in my own ability, but in God’s ability to accomplish them. When I dream small, I limit God. He has grand plans for me and His timing is made perfect according to His purpose, but I need more faith.

And now suddenly I’m 22. I miss singing to those 2000’s songs while dreaming bold dreams, and everything is so different but different can be good. I’m learning to dream big again like my younger version would have told myself to not give up doing, and this time, I want it to be with Him.

A playlist of my memories:

Wake Up by Hilary Duff (my jam while jumping on beds; I had wanted to grow up then)
I Could Get Used To This by Everlife (a song I couldn’t get over in grade 7)
Bye Bye by Mariah Carey (when the end of middle school hit me)
I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys (my childhood friends and I would burst into this whenever we saw each other)
Take A Bow by Rihanna (me and my girlfriends’ song in grade 9)
Down by Jay Sean (anthem with the Chius)
Beautiful Soul by Jesse McCartney (a song my sister and I always scream to, wishing that all guys could be like Jesse)
You and I Tonight by Faber Drive (a song on the CD my best friend gifted me on my 16th birthday)
Two Is Better Than One by Boys Like Girls (one of the songs I’d listen to when Joy and Mustard Seed chilled together after fellowship)
Unashamed by Starfield (a constant reminder of my worth)
‘Til I See You by Hillsong (the song that calmed me down when I cried to sleep)
Just A Kiss by Lady Antebellum (one of the songs my friends and I sang for a charity concert (our band was called Over the Rooftop))
Don’t Want An Ending by Sam Tsui (when I didn’t want my grad year to be part of the past yet)
Good Time by Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen (anthem with Yours Truly)
Best Friend by Jason Chen (when I knew I wanted to fall in love with my best friend one day)
Starlit Nights by AJ Rafael (the first time I saw the magic in stars)
The World is Ours by Eleven Past One (my summers with YL)
I’m Only Me When I’m With You by Taylor Swift (when I realized that my sister is my best friend)
Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamin C (the first time I heard this was during my grade 5 grad; the second time was when my childhood friends were comforting me because they were all moving away to Toronto)
Gravity by Against The Current (my first concert with a best friend – a night of too much screaming for my favourite band ever)
Forces by Japanese Wallpaper ft. Airling (introduced to me by a friend who I met in AID during summer 2015; a sentiment that doesn’t let me forget my blissful time there and the amazing friends I made)
Her (Loving You) by Glades (every morning during AID, my friend would play songs to wake us up and this song was one of them)
Count On Me by Bruno Mars (the first and last song my teaching team sang together before we departed…)
Never Been Hurt by Demi Lovato (reminds me to love like I’ve never been hurt, even when I know it will)
Can I Have This Dance from High School Musical 3 (when I wished with all my heart that High School Musical wouldn’t end because it would signify the end of my childhood; when I knew nothing would be the same after people depart from places or diverge to pursue different paths)
Perfect Strangers by Jonas Blue ft. JP Cooper (getting hyped for my dream-come-true exchange trip to Australia; who would I meet?)
All My Love by Hollyn (dancing with my sister this summer)
Human Diary by Danielle Bradbery (when someone important leaves my life, they take a piece of me with them)

Songs that remind me to dream:

You’re the Reason by Victoria Justice
The Best Day by Taylor Swift (life is made up of small moments)
Let’s Just Pretend by Tyler Shaw (no memory repeats)
Right Place Right Time by Olly Murs (from “Love Rosie” – the timing of my life is not in my hands)
Outsiders by Against The Current (my personal anthem, reminding me that even if I’m lonely, I am free)
When Your Feet Don’t Touch the Ground from the Broadway Musical, “Finding Neverland” (the process of growing up stretches us to grow – “When your feet don’t touch the earth / You can’t feel the things that hurt / And you’re free / There’s no need to come down”)
Castle on The Hill by Ed Sheeran (reminds me of my own childhood memories, of being carefree)
We’re On Fire Tonight by Audio Network (I first heard it on Jayesslee’s vlog when Sonia gave birth to a child after experiencing miscarriage; when something terrible happens, it is not the end)
Something to Believe In by New Heights (when someone walks into my life, they can change my reality)
I Will Wait For You by Us the Duo (there can be contentment in waiting)
Endlessly by The Cab
Still Into You by Paramore (“I should be over all the butterflies, but I’m into you.”)
This Is Me from Camp Rock (I was reminded of how I used to dream)
You And Me by Ben Rector (from a wedding video about distance, time, and hope)

1 Comment

  1. Enoch Cheung

    Hi Grace,
    Looks like you had an amazing childhood and had some pretty cool dreams. I would love to learn more about these dreams you had!

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