Wednesday, 12 March 2014

When Does It Become Unacceptable To Chase Your Dream?

I know, it sounds bizarre. Why wouldn't you chase your dream? Why wouldn't you go for it completely and utterly until you get what you want? It seems obvious, right? Well... not exactly.

In life, we're told that we have a responsibility. This can vary as we get older or begin to form more ties to different people and situations but the ideology stays the same.

We have a duty to do X, Y and Z.

But- while we're bogged down with the societal pressures to get a job, earn money, buy things- we still have that dream that is nagging in the back of our mind, begging and pleading with us to listen and act on it.

Image from Google

The funny thing with dreams is that, no matter how many times they may adapt or change, the passion behind them- that excitement that drives us- remains.

Everyone has a dream, no matter how big or little, and we all in our own way of responding to them.

Some people, arguably the most proactive of dreamers, actively go out and seek to accomplish them. They go out and try to take part in as many things as they can to take one step closer to what they want. Their dream is their entire focus and, more often then not, they make it their full time occupation- they don't rest until they've found success. It is these dreamers that are the free spirits; it is these dreamers that are the relentless ones.

Some of us dreamers (myself included) follow our dream and hold it close to our hearts yet are not quite willing to dive headfirst into a spiritual and emotional adventure. We are the ones who have the idea of 'earning a crust' heavily programmed into our brains that, although we do take part and express our desires, cannot imagine the possibility of being able to fully act on then- to hold our hands up, effectively say 'forget the world' and take a leap of faith. While some may argue with me, I don't believe that this makes us cowards but rather pragmatic. We are the cautionary dreamers who like to ensure we have a plan A, B and C.

There are the dabblers. These are the dreamers that are occasionally swayed to try a bit of their dream- to dip their toe in the water, so to speak- whenever the mood takes them. They are not necessarily  the less passionate of us but they are more grounded, they are not swept away by their dreams but instead can see the benefits of keeping touch with reality and are often content with what they already have.

Then, finally, there are the dreamers in denial. These people have dreams, don't doubt that, but their dreams are smothered and forced to the back of the mind. There may be various reasons for this: maybe they think that their dream is completely unachievable or they are bogged down with reality and unable or unwilling to even consider how things could be different for them, but either way they cannot or do not make any motions to make their dream into a reality. Instead, they grieve their dreams rather than give them the chance to live.

Image from Google
So how is it that dreams begin to come under threat? There are various different points or climates that you experience in life that, not only affect how you feel about yourself, but how you see your own desires.

Firstly, there's school. Now, I'm not writing this to point the fingers at teachers or anybody else for that matter (after all in the words of Paul McGee it's all about playing the 'explain game instead of the blame game')

When you're going through education you are constantly asked:

"What do you want to do?"

"What career are you aiming for?"

"What qualifications do you need?"

And, to tell you the truth, when it comes to confessing that you want to be whether that be an actor/ singer/ writer/ dancer/ whatever, the words can, sometimes, get lodged in your throat. Why? Because, to some people, your aspirations aren't good enough or you should focus on something more 'realistic'.

I remember a time when I was younger and considering training to be a hairdresser and, after admitting as such to my Geography teacher, having a full blown argument with the man as, "I was too intelligent to do that." It would have been a "waste". And I should "be aiming for University."

It didn't matter that I had no wish to go or that I, at the time, was genuinely interested in learning to style people's hair for a living, as far as he was concerned my dream wasn't good enough.

Now, depending on what kind of dreamer you are (see above), you may have different reactions to this. If you are a free spirit you may have done it regardless, if you are a dabbler you may have been a bit shocked but would have brushed it of or, alternatively, if you are a dreamer in denial you would have been devastated and begun the process of locking your ambitions away.

But for me, little miss pragmatic, I was mostly insulted but then began to re-evaluate. I still wanted to be a hairdresser, don't get me wrong, but I began to consider what other careers I could go into- something that was preferably deemed 'acceptable' for my academic level. (I never did go to uni!)

Another time in your life that can put your dreams under strain is (as previously mentioned) during work or, more specifically, the pressure of bringing money in and beginning to form a steady income.

Without meaning to sound like a complete pessimist and waving the Marxist flag, it is an unfortunate fact that, in life, you need to do something to earn money... unless you decide to relocate in the middle of a rainforest and leave all of society, technology and all modern aspects of life behind.

So, when I turned to my career's advisor and told her how all I wanted to do was write, I got a surprised look and then the suggestion that I go to university. (I, obviously, didn't go.)

Once I explained that I didn't want to go to university until I reached a point that I needed to go to qualify for a profession or had found a course or career that I really wanted to commit to enough to put effort and money towards (and that would be useful and pay off) we went onto other options... Mostly how I had to earn some money whilst I decided what career I wanted to do. And how I needed to earn money. And figure out what I wanted to do as a day job... but mostly how I needed to earn money.

Suddenly life starts to revolve around salaries, incomes and where you are actually going with your job. The dream gets put on the back burner once again (unless, of course, you're lucky enough to have your dream job).

Throughout society we are bombarded with mixed messages.
  • Work hard to get the qualifications to get the job that you want but make sure that you're doing something reliable that brings in money.
  • Aim high with the company but don't take life too seriously.
  • Do what you want and say what you feel but make sure that you don't rock the boat too much or you may lose your job.
It can be emotionally exhausting trying to keep a balance- of trying to respect and act on your dreams and yet have a firm enough grip on reality to stay functioning.

My advice is this: when society makes you feel as though chasing your dream instead of aiming for something else is somehow wrong or foolish, remember that it is your life to lead- not theirs. It is you who has to make the major decisions, it is you that has to live with the decisions and choices that you make.

Follow your dreams or live with regrets.

What kind of dreamer are you? What is your dream? Let me know by commenting!