Protect Your Dreams
Dear Jessica Brennan,
Having dreams is not for the faint of heart and many times in my life I have thought about abandoning the concept altogether.
There are three main dream-killers as I see it. There’s me, my haters, and my friends. Yup, my friends. Let me explain.
First, let’s start with me and my inner critic. I’m a massive dream-killer because I never shut up.
Here’s what I sound like in my head on a bad day:
“I will never finish writing this book. If I do, no one will publish it. I will never get that job. If I do, I probably won’t like it. I’m tired. You’re lazy. You’re a workaholic. You don’t do enough. You’re doing too much. Who do you think you are? You’re not that great. Egomaniac. No one likes you. Hack. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
On and on and on. Luckily, I’ve learned mostly to ignore myself. So that’s good.
Dream-killer number two, the me-haters. We all have them. Those people who can’t wait to tell you why what you’re doing is wrong. The ones who want to knock you down a peg or two whenever they can and the ones who simply are mean and evil and hate everything. Sometimes we call them critics, but not always. Mostly these are sad, non-creative little jerks, but nonetheless dreaming is a vulnerable state and so navigating the me-haters has been a bit trickier for me, mostly because I just don’t get what sort of warped joy these people find, in well, hating? I call them me-haters because they don’t like me, but also because they don’t like themselves. I wish they glowed fluorescent green so we could spot them in a crowd, but in any case — “hey me-haters, send me your books to read and we can chat. Oh wait, you don’t have any books.” Haters gonna hate. Get out the fly swatter.
Dream-killer number three, friends and family. Those we love. You know these ones. They do one of two things. They either mock you good-naturedly, out of familiarity:
“Nice brownie, I thought you were on a diet.”
“It’s February, didn’t you say that book would be done by Christmas?”
Or, they protect you from yourself:
“A book deal is really hard to get, so it’s good to have other things on the horizon.”
“Don’t get your hopes up too high, I don’t want you to be disappointed.”
These seeds of doubt are often planted in truth and love, but while in the vulnerable dream state can also be really difficult to shake off. Be careful how much you share with people who can’t lift up your dream.
So what do you do when you have a dream and the mob shows up to explain your dreams away? You keep your common sense intact, but move forward like a workhorse. Tenacity, impatience and stubbornness have been the best tools I have ever had in finishing anything, because at the end of the day, whether the book gets published, or the song gets a record deal or the play sees a stage, you did it. You did what you were called to do. You lived the life you wanted to live. You tried.