Do you dream about your future? You are not alone!
As girls and women, we have incredible imaginations and tons of determination to go with it! It’s easy to use your imagination to dream up worst-case scenarios (and cause yourself great anxiety). But once you’re dreaming, you can dream of the better days, best-case scenarios, and all of the wonderful things that life can bring, because so often that’s what life does bring. Don’t look at life as an obstacle course, but rather as a treasure hunt.
During the very difficult days in Mitzrayim, Klal Yisrael were forward-thinking enough and had enough bitachon in Hashem to be able to dream of the better days ahead. When Miriam, Moshe’s sister, left Mitzrayim, she even packed along musical instruments, anticipating the great neis that Hashem would bring.
I reached out to some accomplished women to find out which of their amazing teenage dreams came true. Did they ever envision themselves where they are now? What did real life bring? Sometimes the twists and turns of real life are even better than your dreams.
Dobby Baum, singer
Teenage dreams: My number-one dream was to be an international singer. I wanted to have my own albums distributed worldwide. I also always dreamed of becoming a doctor (somehow at the same time!), and of course have a family with adorable kids.
Dreams that came true: I can definitely say yes to being an international singer — that dream is in the process of coming true, with lots of perseverance and hard work. Moving from London to New York really helped me break into the music industry. I’m still continuously working on that dream every day, no matter which hardships come my way.
What helped me achieve my dreams was strong willpower and not doubting myself. I also worked on myself not to be afraid of my talent and to let people hear my voice. As a kid, I used to sing to my bedroom mirrors, and I got my first public gig at age 11 singing a song for a fundraiser. That rush and thrill made me so excited to continue performing, although until this day I still get stage fright. But the results are always rewarding.
Whenever I recorded a song in the studio, I gave out copies to friends and family to spread the word so I would get hired to perform at events.
But of course, it’s definitely Hashem that ultimately helped me and is still continuing to help me achieve my dreams!
The becoming-a-doctor part: I’m trying to make that happen eventually. I went back to school — I am a full-time pre-med college student now, after being blessed with a wonderful husband and two beautiful kids, baruch Hashem. It’s not easy, but my dreams are important, and I want my children to see that when you work hard, it’s possible to do anything.
Surprises that real life brought: My children and husband are more wonderful and amazing than my teenage dream — that is all credit to Hashem. And my first album that I released last year is waaay better than my teenage dream, especially because I am joined by The Brooklyn Girls’ Choir, which was never in my teenage dreams at all!
Chaya Esther F., kollel wife
Teenage Dream: To marry a boy who will learn full-time. In seminary, my dream became stronger. There was a slight issue: My parents were not able to support a son-in-law in kollel. But I still dreamed and I davened to Hashem to help me.
Dreams that came true: It’s now a decade later. I am married, and my husband is still learning, and we are managing just fine! It hasn’t always been easy to give up on certain luxuries I was accustomed to, and there were some difficult times over the years, but I really worked on my emunah and help came through in the most amazing ways, such as lucrative jobs that popped up just when there were some big bills…
Surprises that real life brought: I was sure that I would support my family by becoming a speech therapist. In the end I branched out into a totally different and more lucrative field. It’s a good thing I had an open mind!
Naomi Shulman, author
Teenage Dreams: I had many teenage dreams! I wanted to find a way to be who I truly am, express my feelings and beliefs and do what I believe is right, without making waves. I dreamed of get married and have children, getting a Ph.D. in psychology and becoming a therapist, becoming a published author, and making aliyah.
Dreams that came true: I got married and had children (better than I ever imagined!). I got a master’s degree in counseling and had a short career as a therapist before I burned out and realized it wasn’t my path. (Teenage me would have been MAD to hear about that!) I love my community, but I don’t live in Israel. (Teenage me and grown-up me aren’t so happy about the lack of aliyah, but maybe one day…)
Surprises that real life brought: I’ve published eight books; I’m working on a few more. (Teenage me shied away from this dream because writing is a competitive field and I was intimidated at the idea of having to “make it” in such an industry. I thought it was too far-fetched a dream, yet here I am, baruch Hashem.)
Mrs. K., business owner and teacher
Teenage Dream: I dreamed of becoming a childhood psychologist.
Dreams that came true: I always wanted to be a childhood psychologist. I loved people (especially children!) and I always liked helping others. But before I had a chance to actualize my dreams, a business opportunity fell into my lap. After only a few months, we expanded the business and made it our own. There went my dreams! I still wanted to give, so I decided to join the teaching field. I now teach in high school almost as a hobby and enjoy being there and helping both my customers and students alike.
Surprises that real life brought: Teaching in high school!
Mrs. Ruchie Goldberger, high school teacher
Teenage Dreams: I dreamed of being a teacher for young students and doing costume design on Broadway!
Dreams that came true: After two years of teaching second grade, I moved up to eighth grade and from there to high school and I never looked back. Designing costumes for Broadway never happened, but I did make my kids’ Purim costumes when they were young.
Surprises that real life brought: My life has baruch Hashem gone the way most girls hope — marriage, kids, grandkids… The biggest surprise in my life was having triplets; no one really dreams of that!
Esther B., mother and lecturer
Teenage Dream: As a child growing up in a dysfunctional home, the only thing I dreamed of was getting out of the horrible childhood I was living in. I would cry into my pillow at night and beg Hashem to get me out of this situation, and promise that when He did, I would treat my own children very differently.
Dreams that came true: Baruch Hashem, my dreams of a normal life most certainly materialized. I have been living that “better” life since I was 18, when I went to live with another family. It completely changed my life, which is now a much greater existence than I ever dreamed for myself.
Making my dream come true was very simple. I wanted to create a life that was nothing like the horror I had lived through. I am far from perfect, but I have always done my best to create a warm and loving home and baruch Hashem, I can say I succeeded. As long as you recognize that what you went through, like in my case, isn’t the right way and you want better… you can have better. I believe that with the right help, anyone can do it.
Surprises that real life brought: Did I ever see myself where I am now? No. My life now is a fairytale, and I am the princess. The life I am living now is nothing close to what I pictured it would be like. Life will always have its challenges, but overall, I feel blessed every single day. I can honestly say I see the Hand of Hashem all the time.
The family that took me in ended up becoming not just the family I lived with until I got married, but my forever family. My husband’s family is also a huge blessing. I have such amazing relationships with them. I also never pictured myself standing in front of an audience of over 1,500 people telling them about my story and inspiring them to tears! I could never have imagine having people come over to me and thank me for sharing with them so they no longer feel alone or misunderstood. The bottom line is, I wake up every day in my beautiful home, part of a loving family that I was able to create, and I am proof that you should dare to dream — and dream big!
Miriam L., Physician’s assistant
Teenage Dream: To become a doctor
Dreams that came true: Well, it partially came true. I became a physician’s assistant (PA).
Becoming a doctor is a tremendous commitment in terms of the schooling. I was newly married and did not feel ready to take on such a commitment, so instead I decided to become a PA. PA School was very rigorous and demanding; I worked very hard, even when I was newly married. I am very happy with my occupation now.
Surprises that real life brought: One of the nice things about my job is how I’ve become an integral part of the community. My job is intertwined with chesed. All Shabbos long, people knock at my door with medical questions. It’s amazing to have skills that I can use to help people!
Devorah Schwartz, singer
Teenage dreams: I dreamed of becoming a doctor, and I pursued my dreams and began with pre-med. However, life circumstances prevented me from completing my schooling.
So I let that dream go and I focused on other things… I had many dreams; becoming a singer was never one of them, but when the opportunity presented itself, I worked very hard to become successful.
Surprises that real life brought: I feel like my whole life is a surprise. Anyone who knows me is very surprised that I’m a singer. I never dreamed I’d be able to connect to Jewish women from around the world through my singing. So that’s certainly an amazing surprise!
Sarah Massry, writer and mother
Teenage Dream: As I child, I spent several summers in Eretz Yisrael, and I loved it there. I dreamed of living there for a few years after I got married. I dreamed of raising a beautiful family and becoming a teacher.
Dreams that came true: I lived in Yerushalayim for several years after I got married; my oldest daughter was born there. In order to achieve this dream, I had to give up an excellent job in New York, and move far away from my family and friends. But I never regretted it. Living there was such an amazing and enriching experience.
I was also a teacher for a number of years (I even got a master’s degree in education) before branching off into other things. It took a lot of work to be a good teacher and really tune in to all my students’ needs; the dream of teaching didn’t happen easily.
Surprises that real life brought: Real life brought some surprising twists that I never even dreamed of, like giving classes for women, giving teen workshops, writing books, and writing for Teen Pages (for over a decade now!). Connecting with teens from around the world has been fun and enlightening, and the best part is that it keeps me young!
Chani B., author
Teenage Dream: I dreamed of becoming an author since I was about six years old.
Dreams that came true: Today I am a published writer, just two years out of high school. I write features for magazines, and wrote a serialized novel for a local publication.
Achieving my dream wasn’t easy. The most important part was finding published authors who had accomplished my dreams before me and asking their advice. Then, there was the determination factor, which meant that I worked hard to perfect my writing skills but still got rejection after rejection. I didn’t let that stop me, I just worked harder until slowly, slowly, my efforts started to bear fruit and I saw my dreams coming true.
Surprises that real life brought: My dream as a young girl was to become a beloved, popular author and write the kind of books that everyone loves to read and reread. I’m surprised to find that so much of my effort is focused on meeting deadlines and keeping my editors happy with me.
Menucha Chana Levin, writer
Teenage Dream: When I was a teenager, I wanted to become an artist. I’d always loved drawing pictures; in fact, my very first childhood memory is drawing circles on a cardboard box.
Dreams that came true: When my parents made inquiries about attending art school, they didn’t think it was a suitable place for a nice Jewish girl like me. I was disappointed, but went to teacher’s college instead and later enjoyed doing arts and crafts with my kindergarten and third grade students.
My advice to teens today is keep your options open. You never know what you might end up doing.
Surprises that real life brought: I also loved writing stories, which I’d illustrate. After teaching for many years, I am now a full-time freelance writer and, among other things, I interview artists.
Make your dreams come true!
Tips for Teens
I believe that today there are so many more opportunities than when I was growing up. It is possible to do almost everything without compromising on your Yiddishkeit. If you have a dream, go for it!
Advice to teenage dreamers: keep dreaming and keep looking for ways to make your dreams a reality. Believe in your ability to make things happen. The people who never give up eventually go far. No dream is too big. You might not get everything you hope for, but many of your detours will be priceless, and you will probably discover many new dreams along the way!
—Mrs. Ruchie Goldberger, high school teacher
Have 100 percent faith in Hashem that He will help you achieve anything that’s possible. Before every concert I give, I say Tehillim, because Hashem is in charge of my success.
Perfection is overrated — nobody is perfect. Only look at yourself and not at others, because you are perfectly imperfect! That’s how you will achieve your dreams.
Last but not least, don’t let anyone’s words put you down. If you believe strongly about something, you can do it. Willpower is very strong. I have had plenty people in my life who didn’t believe in my dreams.
—Dobby Baum, singer
There are things that you want for yourself and there could be even greater things that Hashem has planned for you! Things may not always go your way… You may hit many a bump in the road, but I beg you not to give up. There is always help. Baruch Hashem, we live in a world where there is awareness and help for almost all situations. Do not despair! Try your best to think positive. To smile. Do a chesed for someone else that will make you feel good. But don’t give up. Never, ever give up.
—Esther B., mother and lecturer
I am a big believer in dreams and dreaming big. Try to actualize your dreams with whatever is in your power. That’s something I live by.
—Devorah Schwartz, singer
Keep an open mind. You never know what you might end up doing!
—Menucha Chana Levin, author and writer
If there’s something you’re good at and feel passionate about, you should pursue it because it’s an amazing feeling to do something you love, and that will usually breed success.
—Miriam L., physician’s assistant
Never give up on your dreams, especially the spiritual ones. Daven to Hashem for help. You’ll be surprised by what can happen!
—Chaya Esther F., kollel wife
Teens from around the world share their dreams
My dream job is one where I feel like I am making a difference for little kids. One where I have a structured day, but still flexible. One where I’m working with precious, special children. One that I love, that I won’t get bored of. One where I’m not sitting at a desk all day, but working with nice people.
I know it’s cliché but I really want to be a teacher. I want to teach either hashkafah or writing (yeah I know, total opposites). I would love to teach high school!
I’ve always wanted to make a difference in my life, my family’s life, my school, and in the world at large. Not quite sure how I can accomplish it, but it’s definitely something I think about all the time.
I’ve always dreamed of going to Eretz Yisrael!
My dream is to become a doctor.
I dream of becoming a psychologist.
—Esty R., 15
When I grow up I’d love to be either a personal organizer or a graphic designer. Maybe even both! I also love art, so when I’m out of school, when I’m in seminary, I’ll probably take a graphics course.
A few of my dreams are to be a published author, to move to Yerushalayim (I currently live in a small yishuv in Israel) and to teach younger girls the things that I am passionate about.
Maital L., 16
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 854)
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