5 Reasons Not To Work On Your Dream

When I was nine, I saw an expression on someone’s face I wasn’t familiar with. It was a curious, studying surprise.

It wasn’t condescending, patient, or endearing.

It wasn’t loving, scolding, or adoring.

It was strange, startled, and somewhat frightening.

“You wrote this?”

“Yes.”

Long silence. Nothing more was said about it on that day.

One day, I picked up a piece of paper and read words that gave me chills all over my forehead. I understand something I hadn’t previously understood. I saw something I had been blind to through those words.

They were in my handwriting, and the notebook was my own. I just didn’t remember writing them.

I knew that I wanted to be a writer when I was nine years old. Correction, I was a writer who knew I wanted to be a published author.

But these are the reasons I chose not to pursue that dream for many years.

1. Fear of rejection.

I knew rejection was a part of achieving anything important. And I was willing to take that rejection. I got used to hearing no about design, website proposals, and sales in many areas of life. I got strong. Or so I thought.

But I wasn’t willing to take rejection about the thing that mattered most to me. Writing. Because that was so central to my being, I thought it would hurt too much.

But that’s like asking the wrong guy out for coffee because you’re afraid the guy you really like might say no.

2. Fear of success.

I sometimes wondered if I did become an acclaimed author, what would I do then? What would be left to dream about or work for? I felt that the greatest joy in life was desire itself. What joy of that kind would be left if I actually succeeded?

What if I go through that mysterious door, follow the yellow brick road, and find nothing but disappointment at the end? Where would I go then?

3. Fear of failure.

But most of all, I just feared I would fail.

If you told me I was a terrible basketball player, I would laugh. I do not aspire to play basketball. So it doesn’t bother me if I’m a failure in this area of life.

I can maybe even handle being a failure at things I am more interested in, like coding or designing.

But I know deep inside that I couldn’t handle being a failure as a writer. So why try? As long as I don’t know I’m a failure, I can go on believing that maybe I could succeed some day. Which brings me to fear #4.

4. Fear of very hard work.

I am a reasonably hard worker. I grew up with a strong sense of responsibility and work ethic.

But all of this pales in comparison to the hard work I would be faced with if I were to embrace the fact that I am a writer and should begin sharing my work. Because up until now, writing was for me alone. I wrote because I had to. I wrote because it came easily to me. I wrote because I had to get the things inside of me out. It’s not a craft. It’s not a hobby. It’s breathing. If I didn’t, I would explode. But if I admit to myself that a public writer is what I want to be, I know I will never, ever let myself give up. And that means days and years of hard work — and rejection.

5. Fear of losing joy in the very thing I love the most.

If writing is something I do because I have to and because I love it, if it’s a friend who is there for me when I need it (which is often), what will happen if I put pressure on myself to write? Will all the beauty of it go away? Will my words be clumsy and forced? Will I become like writers whose work I dislike? Will I — gasp — stop knowing how to write?

You see, my greatest joy lies not in being recognized for writing, but in writing itself. And I’m so very afraid I will lose this joy.

Maybe I should wait a few years. Go back to keeping my writing under lock and key in an old notebook by my bedside. Someone can find it and publish it after I die.

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