• Kathleen Van Engen

Dream Big. Or whatever that means.

We hear it often "dream big"- you've probably heard it from us here at TT more than once. And we mean it. But what does 'Big' mean? Speaking in front of thousands? Being the CEO of a massive company? Saving lives? Travelling the world? Freeing hundreds of girls from the sex trade industry?


For me I remember someone saying to me once, "I see you speaking to thousands of people all across the nations. There is a 'great' future ahead of you." 

My translation of that was that speaking across the nations to thousands= big. Everything else= small. I never had realized how much that way of thinking was impacting my life until quite a few years back. In my thinking that 'big' meant 'grand' or 'well-known', I was missing out on seeing the value in the little things that really in looking back, WERE the big things. Yes I speak, and funny enough, I've spoken to many nations, right here in Canada. Perks of living in a multi-cultural country. But that big dream has looked so much different than I thought it would, and it ended up being quieter, harder, more subtle and more worthwhile than I had imagined. 

When I was 19 I worked as an intern in an office that was probably the size of a lot of your closets. It was wood panelled and had a fake window. Lol. Seriously, there was a small square curtain behind my desk that if you pulled it back it just revealed more wood panels. In that office I wrote dramatic blog posts, toying around with writing styles and learning the boundaries of what I shouldn't and should share and why and how I should share it. I wrote a lot of emo driven crappy pieces that year. I also wrote  a few of my favourites. 

In that office was my first experience having high school students make appointments to talk to me about their lives. I heard about first heartbreaks, I handed kleenex across my little wooden desk, as girls told me about the decision their parents had made to get a divorce or how they lost their virginity to someone they thought loved them but now ignored them. I didn't know much of anything back then. I only had a heart and mind full of my own experiences. I didn't feel I had anything "big" or "grand" to offer. But in that tiny musty office I learned the big things. Listening. Loving. Learning what hurt looked like and also what hope looked like. I discovered that I was really bad at numbers but I was really good at giving flowers. I felt the power behind a really good hug; how fear and worry could be melted by safety and acceptance. 

I learned that this. This is what dreaming big was for me. To believe that my life could impact the life of another. That my words could comfort and my hugs could heal. This was my gift, and when I used it, it activated my potential.  

To dream big, in my opinion, means exactly that; to fully activate every last drop of potential that lies within you. To pursue as many passions for as long as it takes, to find that thing that makes you feel alive, that will allow you to leave behind something that is actually going to matter for generations to come. It means refusing to settle for the mundane or the straight up misery of doing something you don't even care about. 

I love music but I can't write a song for the life of me. I am awful at math, and numbers, and I scraped by in science. I still get my mind blown by wireless controllers and the fact that I can face-time my best friend in Ecuador from Ontario. I won't perform heart surgery and I can't help you with your taxes. That's not what dreaming big was for me. But I can heal in other ways, and I can build something beautiful. That's my big dream and to be honest, I'm living it. It took me a lot of years of trial and error, of risk and lifestyle changes. But I'm living it. And I'm in love with my life.

Oh how I hope you can someday say the same.  

So, what does dreaming big look like for you?  Maybe it's your ability to make the lonely feel loved, or your passion for cooking that will fill a table for people to meet around and forget about the challenges of the day. Your loud voice that got you in trouble in class but could someday give a voice to the voiceless, to contend on their behalf. Maybe it's your creativity that could put words, picture, or music to emotions too hard for most to process. Your art will help them face, accept, and move forward. Or it may provide people with a moment, captured by your camera, or made possible because of your notes and melody. Whatever it is. And wherever it takes you, whether across the world or across the room. It will be a great adventure if you'll have it.

Cheering you on, 


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