How do you plot the road map of your life? Do you assign certain goals for certain ages, for example: get married by 30, have kids by 35, etc? Do you think about what people will say at your funeral, and work your way backwards from there? Or are your plans based on the vision you’ve had for yourself since you were a kid?
Have you seriously thought about what destinations lie along life’s road for you?
However we develop our life’s plan, we all have goals and dreams that didn’t quite make it from our head to the real world. It could just be a matter of time before you begin work on those goals, or it could be that you don’t really think they’ll be a reality. Do you have certain goals that, no matter how thoughts of them make your heart race, you’ve tucked them into the corners of your mind, never to see the light of day?
A personal example of this: when I was in college, I dreamed of being an actress. This wasn’t the desire that burned brightest in my life – being a full-time novelist is. And I didn’t want to change my major from English to Theatre in order to pursue this dream. But I kept imagining myself on movie sets, practicing lines, being in front of a camera. You wanna know what happened? I can’t remember how it unfolded, but I ended up in a private acting class. I say ‘ended up’ because I didn’t consciously go looking for this class. It sorta just fell in my lap. But I never doubted my ability, never thought this was a foolish dream or that if I decided to pursue a full-time acting career that I wouldn’t make it. I never bemoaned the fact that I don’t look like Halle Berry, Gabrielle Union or Sanaa Latham. I didn’t compare myself to other, more experienced actors in the class, and I didn’t beat myself up that I hadn’t pursued acting earlier. I just focused on enjoying the class as much as I could and the fact that I was living my dream.
Perception vs. Reality
Is there a little voice in your head, telling you that you can’t succeed at your secret goals? Do you fear sharing these goals with your spouse, your family or your friends, because its not ‘realistic’, or you’re too old to pursue it now? Why is that? Who told you these things, and why are you holding on to these beliefs?
We all know at least one person who was told “you’ll never amount to anything”. And this person went on to defy the odds and make a success out of their lives, regardless of the ‘realistic’ opinion of others. Do you think they cared what others thought of them? And sometimes, people use this negative pronouncement from the naysayers to fuel their efforts. They think about all the people who look down on them, and when the going gets tough, they resolve to keep on going.
The only difference between this determined person who defied the odds and you is that you’re the only person saying that you can’t do it. Yeah, you have these other people jabbering in your ear, saying “why do you wanna do that?”, “aren’t you too old for that?”, “black people don’t do that“, “you wanna do whuh? Keep dreaming!”
Yes, keep dreaming.
I mean, what is life if not a big dream, where our pleasure comes from fulfilling those dreams? Did you dream about your children before you had them? Did you dream about your house, your car, your vacation before you had them? How are those dreams any different from the other dreams that you have, that someone has said “those aren’t practical dreams” and so discouraged you from pursuing them? What’s wrong with seeing things that you want in your mind and taking pleasure from those visions? And what in the world is wrong with you making those dreams a reality?
People doubt you because they don’t know you like you know yourself. I don’t care if that’s your mom, husband, children, teachers, friends, whoever. You are capable of anything if you decide inside yourself never to give up. You doubt yourself because you fear failing or you actually fear succeeding. But we discussed that fear is your mind’s attempt to protect you…from change. From shaking things up. From the pain of not being successful. But if we let our dreams die because of fear, what kind of life would we have? Imagine if all the successful, inspiring people that decided to pursue their dreams anyway, had held themselves back or let the negative opinions of others keep them from going forward? We wouldn’t have so many inventions, be entertained by so many talented people or be inspired by the leaders and businesspeople that we relate to.
How do you know you’re not that source of inspiration for someone else? How do you know that someone won’t look at your story and say, “if she/he can do it, I can do it too!” You’ll never know what’s possible for you unless you try.