How many of you let other people know what your dreams are? Or do you secret it away, hiding your herculean efforts, until the moment of truth comes and you can unveil your masterpiece? Or, do you let a few people in, and try to juggle everyone else’s needs since you don’t want to change the status quo, while you waste away, not having the time to work on your heart’s desire?
Two of my favorite things to do when I was young, was to read and write. Sure I loved to do other things, but reading and writing were the things I had to do, sure as I needed to breathe. My family really didn’t understand it too much. Still, my parents faithfully brought me to the library every week, so I could lose myself in the book stacks and carefully make my selections.
Then, when I was in third grade, I remember my English teacher asked us to write a story. I was hooked. That’s when I knew that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. Write. I mean, can you even imagine? Creating a story for other people to enjoy and to even want to read it again, and again, and again? Now that was my idea of the best job ever.
Though, for some reason, I was always close mouthed about this dream. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say the right things every solid American citizen wishes for their children. President. Doctor. Lawyer. Professor. Dentist. Financial Whiz Kid. I mean that’s what gets the respect and money in this land of opportunity.
When I first started college, my major was biomedical engineering. I convinced myself it would be cool to learn how to meld robotics with medicine. And it is absolutely fascinating stuff. And it really is. To read.
My freshman year, I took a Creative Writing Class. I was so thrilled. What a relief it was to write, when all my freshman days were filled with biology, chemistry, and physics. Oh my. So imagine my disappointment and grief, when my professor told me I didn’t have what it takes to write a good story. Instead of getting angry about that and wanting to prove him wrong, his words cut me to the core, shredding all my dreams. For years, I believed this professor, and stopped writing. For a little bit. When I started to write again, I squirrelled my work away, not telling a living soul about my dream in fear of the laughter that would follow. Because in the back of my mind, I wondered whether my professor was right, maybe I really didn’t have the creative knack to make it as a writer.
But you know what? I’ve had it with doubting myself and my abilities. I’ve had it with my old professor, whose words haunted me for years. I’ve had it with all the naysayers and dream busters.
My kids are a big reason for this. I want them to know they are capable of reaching their dreams. What type of message am I sending them if I can’t work toward my own dreams?
The only way to do this, I think, is to take yourself seriously. I know this is easier said than done, but really, if you can’t take yourself seriously, who will?
Be responsible for yourself. Take those classes, join those critique groups or professional organizations. Practice, practice, practice your art. State your dream, loud and proud. Make sure you allow yourself the time to work on your dream. Enough time so you’re not cheating yourself. Yes, you may disappoint people in the process, but in the end, you will disappoint yourself far more. It is all a balance, and one you will need to figure out how to manage so you can succeed.
Take yourself seriously. Treat your dream seriously. And by the way, it is totally okay to allow people to treat you and your work with respect.
What are you going to do today, this week, this month, this year, to take yourself seriously? For the sake of your dream?