You CAN achieve your dream

Lesson 1: You CAN achieve your dream

When they tell you “You can’t!”, don’t listen to them.

“Don’t listen to naysayers!” was one of the 6 rules Arnold had. We can all see where he got. For the past years, depression and hopelessness dragged me into a very diverse set of situations. Learnt a lot and experienced more than I ever thought I would. I bet the next years of my life will be even better. So, I want to talk just about that. And if you don’t want to read it all, just remember: You CAN achieve your dream!

It starts in childhood, while they keep saying “You CAN achieve your dream”

That’s what they say, that you can be whatever you want to when you grow up, but parents never seem to walk the talk. Mine didn’t. “Yes, of course, you can paint for a living” and 15 years later were eagerly deciding to which engineering school should I sign up.

I believe parents don’t actually realize the gigantic task they have to fulfil once they become parents. They don’t know. It’s not their fault. Probably they parents didn’t know either. The point is that nobody teaches you. You just use the knowledge you already have and most of the times, it’s not coming from a heavenly spot.

Most of the times it’s just talking. They say talk is harmless. It’s not. Words hurt. And they do have power. Even when you don’t say them, unspoken words have power. Sometimes parents are not actively interested in what the child is and often happens as a parent to seed doubt into the mind of a 5-year-old. Or 10. And sometimes 12. Most of the times, it never stops.

Saying “can’t be a model/singer/ actor” puts a restriction and it’s perceived as a lack of permission from the most important person in your life. Your parent. Trust me, when you’re 5 or 7 or 12 and you’ve just been told what you can’t do, well… that’s noted as a fact somewhere in the back of your mind, it gets engraved on the long list of things NOT to do and you move one. Of course, a 10-year-old will never question the reasoning of a parent. Because, when you are 10, the ONLY thing you know how to do, is to follow orders and commands from your parents.

I honestly can’t remember my first “you can’t” but one of the firsts was “You can’t sing”. That was not an observation, it was a decision, which I humbly accepted and made me feel miserable for the years to come.

Because children love to sing and to dance. And to do all kinds of stuff, for which the boring adults don’t have the energy anymore, because they spend their energy doing mindless office task. Just like robots.

It continues in your teenage years

The craziest years are when we are teenagers. Not because we do crazy things, but because we don’t know what we’re doing. Our primitive brain takes the wheel and if you are lucky enough, nothing too bad will happen.

For most people, being a teenager translates into extremes. Today you are a rockstar and tomorrow you discover meditation. I can understand why things happen as they do. Because you get to high school and all of a sudden you get exposed to the world. A part of it, anyway. And everything is so fascinating because everything is new.

That was when I wanted to be a model, but by the time you become a teenager you know to stay away from your parents’ approval and try your best to keep your mouth shut. Eventually, they decide to share their advice, which nobody asked for and say “You can’t be a model”. You’re too this or too that or something else is wrong with you. I mean, why would you tell me something is wrong with me when I have already a hard time figuring myself out.

Sure, being in contact with so many people as a teenager only makes things worse, as the social pressure settles in and everyone is sharing their personal opinion about the way you look, act, talk, walk… whatever. Of course, you try to fit in and do the same to others. You can see how this is not getting closer to where it should be.

In college, “You CAN achieve your dream” is something between a myth and a fairytale

If you made it to college, any college, then kudos to you. You have been through some battles, but you kinda lost the war. The ships are sinking, you put on the white flag, and desperately try to find ONE thing that you’re good at. You have already figured it out you need some sort of a skill, which a machine cannot perform. You make friends, most are just to help you blend in and waste that time between the long periods of complaining.

If you are really good at pretending, you finish. Get your degree and never stick up to your promise of framing your degree and glue it to a wall.

Now, I had no idea people had dreams to achieve in the first place

I would really love to say I loved college. I really do. But I can’t. That was the beginning of a long string of disappointments and hopelessness crises. That was when I first found out about existential crises, about depression and so on.

I remember that time my mom said I could never be a model. “You are too short,” she said. It made me angry and bitter. Left me feeling empty. Probably my mom wanted me to get experience in another field because I was trying to get small modelling jobs. She wanted me to be good. To play it safe. To be boring and bored.

After I finished high school, I realised I could be an actress. Perform for people, share my visions with them, make them feel things. “Sign up for engineering school first and you can go next year to acting school” they said. That is the cruellest things they ever did. Because they knew how school changes you and leaves you feeling hopeless. And they never warned me. Never.

Did I ever mentioned I wanted a dog?! One of those cute ones, which would sleep with you and let you hold him. Never was allowed to get one.

The last day of college, the day I presented my paper so that they would give me the diploma, I got the dog. It was a tiny puppy. Nobody wanted him, but I did. The brat was like a baby: in need of constant attention. That was the first time I felt truly responsible for someone and I felt important. And I felt like I matter. And that I don’t need permission to do stuff. Hmm. Now that dog is my mother’s most beloved creature.

Later that year, got in contact with a beauty pageant organizer and got me selected as Miss Romania for a pageant in Thailand. My parents tried really hard to keep me home but, somehow, some sort of divine craziness of mine didn’t let me quit. And I tried my very best to make them understand. (It was not all flowers and butterflies) I convinced them just in time to take my visa. I was more than just a model, I was part of a beauty pageant and represented my country. So I was not “too short” to be a model. Another moment when I realised: You CAN achieve your dream.

That was a mind-blowing moment. It was November and it was my birthday. Romania is rainy and cold in November. But in Thailand, it’s summer. It was 11th of November 2013, 35 degrees, on a private hotel beach in Pattaya, Thailand, and I had the most inspirational realization. All my life I had been gasping for a summer day for my birthday. That was it. All that I ever wanted. All that I was able to put into a concrete idea in my mind. And years later, I found a way and made it happen.

Of course, now it seems obvious. And if you really love summer, you can follow it all year round by moving and travelling. But back then, I never even consider this to be an option. Because I didn’t know.

Back to the mind-blowing moment. I then agreed that things you want can happen to you if only you are open and willing to get it. If you are willing to work for it. If you are able to see the opportunity and get it. The point is, most of the times I wasn’t acting. I was afraid, because someone, who was older and wiser, told me “You can’t”.

But I could. And I did. And then I did it again. But, back then I wasn’t sure how these things work, so I was occasionally screwing it up. Because that’s how you can then compare bad situations to good ones. We always see the good when we’ve been through the bad.

Meanwhile, back in Romania, I was admitted to singing school. Don’t get too excited, it’s like a normal school where you go and sing. I had to audition for it and a bunch of music professors listen to me. They accepted me. Turns out, I CAN sing. Yes, You CAN achieve your dream!

As the bad decisions need to balance the good ones, (and I was barely learning how to take any kind of decisions on my own) I got a job, which I hated from day one but was too afraid to quit for 1 year and a half. But I met great and inspiring people there.

It got me depressed, my health was not at its best and let me tell you: your health has much more to do with your mental state than you would like to believe.

It was bad, but it wasn’t all bad. Because when you get really bad, you force yourself to escape and get better. And I did. I moved to Turkey to become a volunteer. The most eye-opening experience ever. It was hard and it was different. As a woman, foreign, in a Muslim country, where you don’t speak the language, you don’t understand traditions and have no family or friends,… you learn to adjust. FAST.

Read more about my Turkey experience

I am not into spiritual things either, but believe me when I say that I had some spiritual dreams when I was there. Spooky stuff. Convinced me to quit my job when I got back. Which I did. Best decision I ever took.

I travelled a bit more, discovered it was no shame to ask for help when I need it. Participated in two more beauty pageants. “You’re too short” pff yeah right. Again, You CAN achieve your dream!

After that, I’ve decided to find another volunteer project. I was convinced that was what I wanted to do. In less than 1 week, I found it through some friends. 2 weeks later, I was on the train to Austria, not knowing when I will get back.

Life in Austria was rough. Was the first real-life experience where I was all alone. It was a long period of self-discovery. Of happy and sad. Of setting goals and missing. Of dreaming dreams and then living them. It was then when I actually got to understand that life is a trade-off. You give something up to get something else. You get to live life according to what to set yourself out to do. You get to travel if you REALLY want to. You give up excuses, you leave your comfort zone, you pack your backpack, and just go.

Here is more about my volunteering time in Austria and self-discovery.

It was then when I realize all the things that nobody has ever told me, that I needed to hear when I was younger. I still believe I can now become greater listening to others who have already overcome some of the things I am dealing with, now. And as a huge thank you for everything, I want to be part of those who give back. And be that person I needed to listen to, which I never had, for someone else. Because I am positive You CAN achieve your dream.

They told me I could never sing, and then after I finished my first year at singing school, there I was on a stage in front of more than 100 people singing. Although I must admit, it wasn’t my best performance. But that was a huge confidence boost. Conquered a fear, which wasn’t even mine, to begin with.

They told me I could never be a model, but here I am today, former Miss contestant in 3 different international beauty pageants. Because I don’t need any of you to believe in me. Because you don’t know me. Because I told myself “You CAN achieve your dream”.

They said I could never travel if I had no money. Here I am after I’ve travelled to more than 25 countries in this world, holding just my passport and desire to travel above all else.

They told me “no” to every single idea I ever had. Becoming a vegan, finishing a half-marathon, travelling, moving to a new country, backpacking, having a blog, making money out of my blog. Everything.

Read more about being vegan(why are we used to eat meat?).

Because people are scared. Because you are a projection of their fears. Because nobody ever told you, you can be everything you want and truly support you though that. You CAN achieve your dream, if only you dare to dream.


This is a brief reminder you can and should explore places, discover what you like and don’t like. Please take from my story what is true for you, leave what you don’t need and spread the word.  You CAN achieve your dream.

About author


Iulia is a blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter and travel enthusiast. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth and that's the main topic of her blog,
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