The Ambitions of Children

“The more you dare to want, the more you will achieve.” My mother and father repeated this phrase to my brother, my sister, and me throughout our childhoods. They advised us to work hard. We made plans for our future.

But children do not understand; life is not as simple as they imagine.

In 1997, when I was nine years old and my brother was ten, we made plans for 2010. We decided we would be making our own money; we could buy a car, a house, own a business, and make our parents proud. My brother would become an engineer and I would become a doctor. My brother said he would let me take English language courses even though my father had not given permission.

During these discussions my brother would sometimes point out that after we got married we’d be separated because brides usually go to live with the groom’s family. Then he would start crying and I would try to get him to think about something else.

I told him I would not get married, which made him happy. Our parents listened to us talk of our dreams and wished the best for both of us. My mother prayed that Allah would grant us our ambitions. 

We were too young to see the challenges that life would present or to recognize that circumstances could come between us and the goals we made. We still believed what our parents had told us: “The more you dare to want, the more you will achieve.” And so we dared. We wanted.

My brother and I counted each passing day, waiting for 2010. I was accepted into Kabul University, where I studied Islamic law. He majored in science at Jowzjan University. So we lost one wish: I would not study to become a doctor. We were optimistic about the future.

Life was soon busy for both of us, and eventually our dreams were mostly forgotten. Then, in 2008, we sat together and recalled our dreams. We had nearly given up on our hopes, but our parents’ words came back to us: “The more you dare to want, the more you will achieve.”

By the time 2010 came, life’s challenges had begun to catch up with us. We were busy. Our hands were empty hands. It was easier to forget our ambitions when our target date arrived and we met it with empty hands.

In 2011 my brother became engaged, and then, in January 2012, so did I. On the day of my engagement, he remembered what we had planned as children and he began to cry.

“Look, Maryam,” he said, “We have everything now. I have a car, we have degrees, we respect our parents, they are proud of us, we have businesses. We have everything we hoped to have in 2010.

“No, brother,” I answered. “We have achieved this in 2011, not in 2010. We planned for 2010.”

He just hugged me and said, “That’s okay. At least we have all this now.”

We were very happy, yet he was crying for me. I could only tell him that I am a girl. I need to marry and leave my family one day. This is a fact of life. No one can change it. I am grateful to Allah for making our ambitions come true.

By Maryam A.

Photo by Scotfot.


  1. Elizabeth Titus says:

    Dear Maryam,
    You are blessed with a wonderful family that encourages you to achieve your goals! And you have an education that will help you in life.
    All the best wishes,

  2. How sweet that your brother loves you so. I was afraid this story might have a sad ending, but instead, you affirm your family’s mutual love and respect. And, you have honored them by writing about it.
    Best of luck in your future,

  3. I loved witnessing and feeling the love of your family as I read this poem. I, too, am happy that you and your brother are so close. And, I am also happy that this piece had such a happy, affirming ending. No, you don’t get everything you ask for, but if you forgive me for quoting the Rolling Stones: “you get what you need”… here’s to you getting what you need (and more!).


    • Dear Stacy,
      Thanks from your comments but I am sorry to not understand your last sentence started ” No, you……..” if you don’t mind please make it clear for me. I would be more than happy to understand your comment. Thanks in advanced

  4. Connie Crowder says:

    Dear Maryam,
    I think we all have goals and ambitions as children that gets lost as the world introduces itself to us. It is a blessing to have a family that encourages their children to reach for the stars. Where I”m from all children are not blessed with both parents, let alone be encouraged to reach for the stars. Instead they are encouraged to get a job and help with the bills. When I was little I wanted to be a business woman. Even though life has thrown me alot of heartache and struggle, I am still pursuing my dreams and almost finished with college. Although my dreams won’t be accomplished before the time I set back then, women like you inspire me to continue. I respect your will to want to acheive, and admire that your family continued to encourage you and your brother.

  5. Pei-Li Yu says:

    Dear Maryam,

    I agree what your parents had told you during your childhood. It is the unchangeable concept of every successful people in the world. If you dare to want and to think how much you will get in the future, you will fulfill your dream one day. Most of the people would just complain about their lives while letting the chances walk away from them. I am glad that you and your brother got what you were dreaming in the childhood because not everyone can have their childhood goal achieved. You might forget the your dream on your way to success, but it is always lying in your heart. You said you and your brother were too busy to remember what you dreamed about when you were young, but what has made you guys so busy is the dream that you and your brother are holding. I am 4 years younger than you, I still remember what I have dreamed when I was young, but the sad thing is I do not think I can fulfill the exact dream I had when I was young. It is just like you did not have a chance to become a doctor, and I might not have a chance to become an owner of a big company. But it does not mean we fail to achieve our goal. You and your brother have worked hard enough to achieve your ambitions, and that is enough. We all should be appreciate what we have right now.

  6. Dear All,

    Thanks a lot from your comments it makes me encourage to not lose hope. I become too happy to write this about my own life. Thanks once again.

  7. Karen Sander says:


    I have two sons ages 3 and 5. Your story made me think about them and how they will find their way in the world. Love, ambition, family and hard work are all key elements, as well as the ability to deal with life throwing some lemons your way. I will keep your story in mind as I continue the amazing job as their mother.


  8. Maryam,
    Achieving your goals is something to be very proud of and I too hope to achieve my goals someday. I plan to graduate college with a degree in Nursing and to eventually become a Neonatal Nurse with a house and family of my own. You are a great role model and show ambition that is admirable. Young girls in Afghanistan and all around the world, including myself, can look up to you and see that hard work and persistence pays off and goals that are set at an early age can be achieved. I love the quote that your parents repeated to you growing up, “The more you dare to want, the more you will achieve.” This is the first time I have heard the quote but it is now written in my room to remind me that I should keep my goals set high. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story.

  9. Annber Kealoha says:


    I love that you achieved what you set out to do as a child. Although you made some changes, you are still happy in the end. Your brother and you both have families, careers, your health. Even if you didn’t make it happen in 2010, it has happened, and I’m sure you know that is something to be grateful for. May your blessings continue.

  10. Goals are difficult to achieve, especially ones that you set 13 years ahead. Even if you and your brother reached your goals in 2011 and not 2010, it is something to be proud of. Not many people accomplish their dreams because of distractions and problems in their lives. But you two achieved your goals, pushing through life and passing all of its tests. Even though your father wouldn’t let you study English, I’m filled with joy that your brother supported you and would allow you to take English classes. The love and support you have given each other is an exemplary image of how siblings and families should treat each other.

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