When’s the last time you talked yourself out of pursuing your dreams?
Was it last week, last month, or maybe half an hour ago? Was it a big dream, like starting your own business or going back to school? Maybe it was a little dream, like getting a babysitter and treating yourself to a night without kids? When it comes to truncating your own dreams, I’m something of an expert.
I know not everyone hesitates to take what they want in life, but that’s never been my reality. If you’re the kind of person who can be described as a “go getter,” this article probably isn’t for you. But for those of us who’ve had a hard time nurturing our dreams, listen up!
I’ve wanted to be a writer and teacher since I was three years old and I’ve done everything I can to avoid both because of fear. Fear that I won’t be good enough, that it won’t pay the bills, that it’ll take more than I can give. It’s a dream that keeps me up at night, and niggles at the back of my mind relentlessly. I can’t walk away from it, and yet I can’t seem to muster up the courage to really do it. Instead, I sit here in front of my computer screen, stirring my cup of tea for far longer than I need to because I’ve convinced myself that I have nothing noteworthy to contribute.
You may not want to hear this, but it’s the truth, and the truth is very important when nurturing a dream: We are our own worst enemy.
The excuses we make up, and the blame we place on external forces, are nothing more than manifestations of our own fear getting in our way. In the case of dream squashing, we need to be willing to put ourselves in the hot seat and ask, ‘What do I really want?’ Sometimes what we want is for a dream to come to life without putting in the work. Other times we get impatient early on and give up on our dreams before we can actualize them. And then there’s the dreams we’ve been holding on to that we don’t actually want anymore. We’ve just gotten used to carrying them around.
But for the dreams that we haven’t been able to shake. The ones that wake us up in the middle of the night. The ones that we can remember dreaming about as children. Those are the dreams we have to be thoughtful about.
We are so good at making excuses, or blaming external circumstances, or spouses (sorry honey) that we tend to overlook the one true thing that’s in our way: fear. Fear that it won’t be worth the effort, or that something will go wrong, that we’ll fail, or… you get the idea. Fears, large and small, cauterize dreams before they can even become zygotes.
Now I’m not saying that we’re maliciously sabotaging our own dreams. More often than not, the excuses we make are valid, which is why it’s so hard to argue against them. Our brains reward decisions made in the name of security and familiarity, but we thrive on novelty and challenge. So maybe it’s not anyone’s fault that we truncate our own dreams. Maybe we can blame biology. The only problem with that is we can’t ghost biology’s call, or shame it, or even take it to court.
We have to find a way to live with it.
Procrastination, perfectionism, the blame game, these are all clever disguises that we use to protect ourselves from failure. But it also protects us from living our dreams. What if on the other side of self doubt, exists a world where we can co-exist with our inner demons without truncating our dreams? What if we could seat self doubt and our dreams at the same table (without causing a rumble)? Our dreams may not need to be just dreams any longer.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that dreams come true all the time. More often than not, we just need to be willing to get out of our own way to make them happen. For me that means sitting down every Thursday, getting to the bottom of my cup of tea, nothing left to stir, and writing out my thoughts. Then, noteworthy or not, hitting publish.
Don’t let biology kill your dreams. Fight for them! The world needs more dreamers. Get the bottom of your cup of tea, and then get going.
originally published at www.anongray.com