I had the same dentist my whole childhood. When I was 17 years old, my dentist asked me, “Heidi, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I responded, “I want to be a dentist!” After I said that, I realized – he probably thinks that I was just saying that because he was a dentist. Surprisingly, smiling he proceeded to open up the first page on my chart and he showed me a side note. I couldn’t believe it, I was just 4 years old on that particular dental visit. His handwritten chart note said, “She wants to be a dentist.” Apparently, I have had a passion for dentistry my whole life. It is from here I pursued my dream in the field of dentistry.
About a month before I graduated high school, I remember coming home from school one day and telling my dad “I want to go to dental school in San Francisco, California, to become a dentist!” I was expecting him to be so excited and very proud of me. However, I will never forget the look on his face and him saying, “I don’t have any money for you to go to college and especially to become a dentist!” Looking back, I am sure as a teenager, I “copped an attitude.” To put it bluntly, I somewhat overreacted. What I distinctly remember is being really mad and in my mind, all I wanted is to pursue my dream and become a dentist. In my strong-willed attitude, I yelled, “What do you mean you didn’t save for a college education? What am I supposed to do? It is my dream to become a dentist!” He looked at me and said, “Get a job!”
Being the solution-oriented and persistent person that I am, I sought out my dream of a future in dentistry. The next day while I was watching T.V., I saw the commercial that changed my life forever – Ever Dreamed Of A Professional Career In Dentistry? I knew my dream was out there, I just needed to resources and means to accomplish it. Soon after, I set up an appointment with a college, to pursue my ultimate dream of a future in dentistry. I researched what I could and rushed home and to give the great news to my dad. “OK dad, I found a college and talked to the finance director and all you need to do is get a loan and make payments.” Clearly, I had no clue about bills or debt. Most people described me as a very determined, persistent and independent person, so telling me that I can’t fulfill my ultimate dream or desire was not an option in my mind. To make a long story short, my dad was not going to borrow money to send me to college to become a dentist. Therefore, since I only made minimum wage and was broke, I decided to settle for dental assisting school and I took out a loan, knowing I had to pay it back myself. Yep, off to work I went.
I ended up graduating from dental school and landing a very good job that paid four times as much as I was making at minimum wage. My dad was shocked and I, of course, thought – I had “succeeded at pursuing my childhood dream” and that I was financially set for life. You see, as a minor child, I already knew how to work hard for the things I wanted. Even when I was old enough to babysit, I bought my own candy and school clothes. If I wasn’t so determined, I knew I was bound to be wearing my mothers’ home-made clothes that never matched!By 14 years old, I was managing a Baskin N Robbins ice cream shop and working all alone at night. You see, my dad was the first generation to come to America. His family lost everything they owned to the government and when they moved to America and they had to start from scratch. My dad didn’t have much respect for an education, because of so many co-workers with degrees were punching buttons on an assembly line at the car manufacturing plant where he worked, some college dream, right? Growing up on the poor side, he had taught me
a philosophy, “If you want something, you earn it. And if you are determined enough to get it, you can have it.” There was no such thing as “entitlement” or parents that fixed my problems. He basically taught me to critically think and made me realize that I can do anything I set my mind to do, with a can-do attitude and a heaping amount of persistence and determination. When my car made a noise, I was to deal with the mechanics and auto parts store. When I had a problem, I was encouraged to try on my own to remedy the issue, and then seek help. And if I had a dream or goal, nothing was out of reach.
Overall, my childhood friends thought I had the typical life where I married my high school sweetheart, saved money to buy a home, traveled, and had a baby. However, this was only true until I was 22 years old. After that, I had unbelievable challenges. A story in itself for another day. As we know, challenges make us stronger and we do our best.
A dream is only an afterthought if you let it slip by. No dream is too big to dream, “things” are replaceable, and life is too short to dwell on the challenges. I have learned, life takes twist and turns. Challenges happen… Through my journey, I have learned to stay strong, quitting was not an option, continue learning, and go after your dreams. I would love to share my story…if you are interested? Let me know if you want to hear part II and next time grab your popcorn, tissue, and unpack your high school pom poms. #GoDewers!