A Dream Deferred…Are You Running From Your Goals?
What happens to a dream deffered? It waits patiently in the recesses of your mind, building resentment and taunting you unendingly with, “What if…” and “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.” If you’re lucky, your dream job and day job will be one in the same, but how do you deal when your everyday reality seems to be making your long-term goals slip farther and farther away? The following tips may provide you with inspiration and insight on how to live your dream or live with letting it go.
1. Check the expiration date on your dream.
On any given night, you might catch me sucked into the vortex that is Youtube catching up on the latest choreography. In fact just the other night I was rating routines made to Beyonce’s “Dance for You” (of which the original I must admit is damn hard to top). My latest obsession, Dance Moms: Miami has me revisiting adolescent dreams of being a professional hip hop dancer, Fatima Robinson-style. But the talented tiny dancers on that show make me realize one thing more and more each episode: You can’t just wake up at 20 years old and decide you want to be a professional dancer. Certain dreams require cultivation and training over a span of several years. You could treat expiration dates like some people and use them simply as a guide (after all Jay-Z released Reasonable Doubt at 27). But some careers have a short lifespan and if you haven’t met certain marks by a certain age, your dream may no longer be within reach. Be realistic, if you’re 30 and considering trying out for America’s Next Top Model, you may want to catwalk to a career change.
2. Make your dream your night job.
My degree is in English, but through some internship opportunities and real life experience I discovered that I really enjoyed working with young people and teaching about sexual health and healthy relationships. Even after going to college with the hope that I could earn a salary as a “writer,” when graduation was over and Sallie Mae came calling, anything that paid the bills seemed promising. Luckily I didn’t give up on my first love and through some good old-fashioned grind and a whole lot of faith, I’m now able to write under the cover of night (and get paid to do so!) Our present economy isn’t very supportive of people following their dreams, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon them completely. Research night classes, freelance work, talent shows, weekend workshops anything that gets you one step closer to making your passion and profession one in the same.
3. Watch the company you keep.
Motivation breeds motivation. Take a look at your inner circle: Are they content with whatever life sends their way or always aiming for something better? You don’t necessarily have to aim to be BFF’s with Rihanna if your dream is to be a pop star but it is important to get familiar with those in the industry or community in which you’re interested. Your competition is sometimes key to providing you with valuable inside information about the who’s, what’s, where’s and when’s of your field. You also want to make sure you have a good support system; there’s a reason why Pinocchio had Jiminy and Lucy had Ethel. The world is full of plenty of people who will tell you that you can’t do it, someone to tell you that you can makes all the difference in the world when your chances seem slim.
4. Educate yourself.
Talent can’t make up for being educated about the fine print of your fantasy. If you’re planning pursuing a degree, you might want to research employment statistics in that field and compare it to the cost of your education. You may be able to blow better than Beyonce, but how business savvy are you about the music industry? Know the pitfalls and perks of your passion so that you can prepare for what to expect.
5. Be authentic.
It can really be easy to adopt the dreams of others especially if those dreams seem easy to attain or come with handsome rewards, but what you often miss is the hard work and challenges that come with those dreams. Authenticity breeds success. Whether you’re singing, dancing, or aim to cure cancer, you’re more likely to stick with a goal that you truly believe in and as a result that passion will help inspire the support of others. Your dream should be tailor-made for you.
6. Get comfortable with rejection.
If I’m completely honest, for a long time in my life I was used to getting exactly what I wanted, not because I was spoiled but because I worked hard and planned for it. But sometimes all the preparation in the world still leaves you defenseless against the dreaded, “No.” Never experiencing rejection is not always a good thing because when it finally happens it may hit you harder than it would most. What you shouldn’t allow rejection to do is cripple you. Supermodel and mogul Tyra Banks was rejected by four modeling agencies before being signed to Elite at age 16 and Oprah Winfrey was once fired from a job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV.” When it comes to chasing your dreams you’ll probably hear a dozen no’s, but all you really need is one yes.
7. Never be the one to tell yourself, “No.”
It can be very easy to write yourself off before you even get in the race. Many times our own insecurities allow us to believe we’re not smart enough, we’re not attractive enough or that we don’t belong. As we learned in #6, there will be plenty of people who can’t wait to tell you, “No,” but you shouldn’t allow yourself to be one of them. It’s cliché’, but true: You never know until you try. Stephen King’s iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, causing the author to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it. Don’t count yourself out of the race before it even begins.
8. You have to do things you’ve never done, in order to get things you’ve never had.
People either love or hate this quote, but regardless of how you feel about it, it’s true and the truth is scary. As is pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. I’m willing to bet that there are singers more talented than Adele and comedians funnier than Kevin Hart whose talents went undiscovered because it never left the insides of their head or the four block radius of their neighborhood. When it comes to making your dreams come true, there truly is no reward without risk. Yeah, you may spend 5 years in school and come out unemployed or you may start the next billion dollar empire. You may be the first to hear “Auf wiedersehen” on Project Runway or you may find your garment clinging to Scarlett Johansson’s curves at the next Academy Awards red carpet. Chasing a dream is scary, but if it weren’t everybody would be doing it.
Did you ever have a dream that you abandoned?
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee.