All Articles Tagged "dreams"
Our twenties have long been dubbed the “selfish years.” I’m not sure who decided to declare how one should spend these monumental nine years, but it’s provided the excuse for much heartbreak, confusion and regret. Since the inception of my college years, I was taught that this decade-long period should be solely focused on myself. Wise friends encouraged me to live according to the laws of Nikki, throw my heart and soul into pursuing dreams and have fun trying on a few men (as if they’re outfits in a store). All recommendations that, at the time, I completely engaged in.
Two weeks ago I received an early morning phone call from my best friend. Considering the fact that it was 9 am and our normal communications ensue within texting walls, I had a feeling that this call wasn’t the average “check in.”
I answered at my desk with a whispering “hello.”
“Hey girl, do you have a minute?” she responded. Naturally I thought the worst. Who died? I nervously scanned potential victims in my head before uttering the confirmation she needed to continue.
“I need you to sit down, I have something to tell you.”
The last time someone demanded I take a seat it was to reveal painful news (or just opposition to one of my many Beyonce rants). But being at work, this wasn’t the time or the place for the latter, and I was sure my friend knew that.
After a few deep breaths, I assured her that I was sitting.
” So I want to tell you something that may be shocking. I left New York.”
Let me brief you on this friend before moving any further. My friend was a brilliant, budding producer here in New York. She’s worked for a major network for a few years, produced rewarding content and up until recently, appeared to be happy. In one year she met a great guy, fell in love and they had just planted their feet in a new swanky Brooklyn apartment. Though the trajectory of her life seemed ideal to anyone standing on the outside, internally she was yearning to break free; a feeling too many of us New Yorkers often empathize with. We dream of getting up and leaving this soul-draining place behind, but are held down by reality and all that comes with it.
Continuing our phone conversation she reminded me of how depressed she had been and how her search for purpose became all-consuming. She spoke briefly of moving to California in the past as a stepping stone towards her producer/director dreams, but considering all that New York was providing her, that dream didn’t seem urgent.
Any friend would have been stunned, sad or possibly angered by this news, but somehow my spirit smiled for her. She left us all behind in pursuit of something greater… herself. Such an act of courage was to be admired. Even if it carried dramatic undertones and required abandoning her friends, family and relationship all on a whim.
When a friend makes such a sudden and unexpected change for their greater good, it forces you to self-check a few things. Too often I’ve yearned after someone else’s life moment, unappreciative of my own. I’m in a loving relationship, supportive family surrounds me, and though I’m not all the way together yet (because, who is?) I’m growing as a human. I have nothing to escape from.
Many twenty-somethings are faced with an ultimatum: relationship vs dreams — as if the two are mutually exclusive. We’re all open to getting bit by the success bug, but swatting away the love bug once it comes? That’s never an easy choice. But is it even possible to achieve career success while enjoying great personal success in your relationship? That’s a question I’ve been pondering for quite some time. My friend left her boyfriend behind with a two-day notice. Though it wasn’t the best way to handle the situation, she’s adamant that it was a necessary, although difficult, decision for her future. And she didn’t want anyone having weight in her choice; the secret worked. My friend is now out in California capturing every moment (pictorially) of her “happy life.” Where does that leave him? Picking up the pieces she left behind.
While striving for greatness, we’ve all encountered the fear that getting into a relationship will slow down the process, distract, and possibly cause us to become weak and unmotivated. There’s a common panic that our focus in chasing a personal dream will ultimately deter us from establishing successful relationships; that a relationship during this stage in our life will take us off course, while our competitors continue to reach new levels.
But why do we have to choose one over the other?
I have yet to ask my friend why the relationship she’s invested more than a year into didn’t require the same dedication she put toward her professional dreams. Why can’t her relationship goals and professional goals find a loving space in the same house? After all, our partners should be supportive, loving, understanding and complimentary to our dreams– not a distraction. In my own relationship, I’m experiencing the beauty of growing with a partner. We challenge those who believe a man or woman has to have it altogether before coming together. We still have a long list of professional, personal and united goals that we’re aiming to check off our list, but what’s beautiful is that we’re able to teach and learn from one another. My self-doubt is conquered by his confidence, my determination motivates his laziness at times, and sometimes we need that to not only further ourselves professionally, but personally. Can’t dreams be encompassing of both – or is one a required sacrifice?
As you all know, I’m a big fan of Kelly Rowland’s show “Chasing Destiny.” I’ve written about it a couple of times and this weekend, my sister and I introduced my cousin to the show. And we ended up watching all of the episodes all over again.
In doing so, I noticed something particularly interesting in last week’s airing.
As much love and sisterhood as we see on the show, it is still a competition. And on this particular night, Kelly was looking to send one of the young ladies home.
Interestingly enough, before she eliminated people, she told both the producers, her partner in this journey, choreographer Frank Gatson, and vocal coach Stevie Mackey that she’d had a dream about one of the young ladies. In the dream, the girl was telling her that she was going to be in the group. Coincidentally, the very same girl she dreamt about was the one Kelly and her team decided to eliminate, Skye.
From the moment that Skye sensed that she wasn’t going to be competing any further, her body language changed. She sunk and tears began to fall. But that reaction is standard. Most of the young ladies cried when they were sent home. But it was what Skye did afterward that changed her fate.
She said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “It’s just so weird. I had dreams of being in this group, being on stage with this group.”
But she didn’t stop there. She thanked Kelly and Frank for the time and care they had invested into her up until that point. She did it in a way that somehow managed to come across as sincere and genuine, rather than desperate and ass-kissy. And she said that she hoped America was able to see the type of people they were. And then as she was walking out of the door, she told them that she hoped that they found what they were looking for and that the group they were creating proved successful.
When she left, Kelly, Frank and Stevie were stunned into silence. Later, I believe Frank said sh*t. After Kelly had eliminated another girl, she mentioned that she just couldn’t get Skye off of her mind. Between her dream and Skye’s dream and the words she said as she left, she realized it wasn’t time to say goodbye to her yet. As Kelly said this, her partners chimed in. Stevie mentioned that based on what Skye said as she was walking out of the room, she would be the perfect group member. He said she would put the group first and be on stage, rain or shine because even as she was being eliminated, she was still concerned for the well-being of the group.
And Kelly decided after the talk with Stevie and Frank that she was going to invite her to stay. She called her back into the very room where she’d dismissed her and asked her to please stay and continue on in the competition.
After sitting through church service about ending negative talk, speaking positively over your life so you can pursue your dreams, my antenna perked up.
I was very tired and had laid down in a ball in between my sister and cousin on the couch. But I lifted my head to tell the both of them, “You see how you can manifest your dreams by what you think and say about yourself? She said, ‘I saw it.’”
My cousin agreed, “Even in other people!”
It was so true. Skye envisioned this life for herself. And not only did she envision it, she spoke about that vision at the right time and her circumstances shifted. She had already been eliminated, was on her way home; but because of her dream and her tongue, she got to stay and work toward her goal.
I love to marinate on the benefits of positive thinking. And at my church they speak quite a bit about declaring your dreams, your desires, your children and even yourself into the atmosphere, so that the universe will have to adjust to accommodate you and your talents. I’ve always believed that. I’ve experienced that several times over in my own life. And it was certainly a trip to watch play out on reality television.
I share this story because there are some people who think it’s spooky, or hokey, or just too weird to embrace the connection between the spiritual, psychological and physical worlds. We are more powerful than we think. What we say about ourselves and our lives matters, deeply. The universe is listening.
Even though, I don’t get to watch “The Real,” as it airs on television, the YouTube clips prove very helpful in getting a general idea of what the ladies are talking about. There was one such video, called the Breakup Bounceback that I found particularly interesting. It started with a discussion about Gwen Stefani and how she used the breakup with her husband Gavin Rossdale to produce an amazing album.
Tamera said that her friend taught her that after a breakup we have to learn to get to a place where you can actually thank your exes for breaking your heart because they help you to see that you deserve better.
That’s when Jeannie Mai spoke from her own experience:
“I’m so grateful for the person who actually told me that I could not get to where I am today. He just didn’t like me being in the spotlight. He thought I talked too much, he said ‘You just want attention that’s why you want to become a television host.’ This was honestly my boyfriend before I got into television. And I didn’t know it until the president of a network called me personally to say, ‘I just want you to know that you have an awesome talent and you’re an awesome person but the current boyfriend that you’re with right now, personally called me to tell me that he didn’t think you were adequate for this job.’
And you know, when you’re in love and you know the truth but your body is not just letting you do what’s right, so you gotta kinda beat yourself up a little bit. Well thank God that I went with what I call Godfidence and trusted that He had a different plan for me and followed that and used that pain to show that I could do what I believed I could do. So thank you for that.”
That man was diabolical and I certainly hope he’s a fan of “The Real” and gets to watch Jeannie Mai everyday on television. In fact, if the women of “The Real” win one of those Emmys, I hope Jeannie dedicates her speech to him.
The whole discussion got me thinking about the ways in which people who are the closest to you can speak the most negativity into your lives. It reminds me of the story Jay Z always tells of his uncle believing he couldn’t sell a million records. He’s done that several times at this point. Jay Z said that in the case of his uncle, it was less about trying to discourage or downplay his talents and abilities but more about the limits he had placed on his own life. Because he didn’t see himself enjoying that level of success, he didn’t think it was possible for his nephew either.
That got me thinking about the ways in which our own family members, friends, lovers and those close to us have, whether consciously or subconsciously, tried to block us from our dreams and goals. Personally, I can’t say I’ve had someone tell me what I couldn’t do. But I will say that I’ve been caught up in something that was so time-consuming that there really was no time to do anything else. Was it intentional? Probably not. But still, in an ideal relationship that person should be pushing you toward what you say you want or at least supporting you in your efforts.
My coworkers had some more concrete examples. When one of my coworkers said that she told her uncle that she was going to be a Black Studies major in college, he asked her what is Blackness and why would she want to study it. Another coworker who was an English major said people told her that she would never make any money studying English.
The same coworker who was a Black Studies major was working a retail job after college as she was waiting to move into her career field, she had close family members who advised her not to quit because it would jeopardize their discount.
Ain’t that something? I don’t want you to achieve what you desire because it would inconvenience me.
Have you ever had someone you loved and trusted, try to discourage your dreams and career goals?
You can watch “The Real” discussion in the video below.
Bow Wow and I don’t agree on a whole lot. But the rapper, host and sometime-actor made a good point in his attempt to shut down rumors that he is romantically involved with singer Keyshia Cole.
I have to admit there’s some truth to that. We can argue that Bow Wow wasn’t exactly on his A game when he was with Erica Mena. We all remember how he chose to promote himself through his relationship and then, when the relationship went sour, chose to publicly tear her down. We can certainly argue that he wasn’t concerned about protecting his brand or appearing to be a good human being when he was publicly talking about his fiancee’s miscarriage.
But aside from public, C-list celebrity relationships, the idea of a romantic partner taking you off your grind, happens in the real world everyday. There are people, men and women, whose relationships become so important they forget to devote themselves to their personal goals, friends, families and of course career.
Most of the time it’s not even a conscious decision. While I’ve always regarded myself as someone who’s goal driven, my last relationship proved that my resolve could be tested. At the time I was supposed to be working on writing my book, my grandmother’s memoir. This was in addition to my day job. After my 9-5, the hours I should have spent writing, I would spend on the phone talking to him, sometimes about the very dreams neither one of us were actively working towards.
And the crazy thing is, I never really felt anxious, guilty or unproductive. I didn’t realize that I was choosing to invest in the relationship at the expense of myself. It wasn’t until it was over that I noticed 180 degree turn in productivity. So much so that I astounded myself and confirmed that the relationship really had run its course.
Still, being with someone now is even more ambitious than me, who always makes time to practice and perfect his craft, it motivates and inspires me to be and do better.
Really, when it comes down to it, you can’t blame the relationship for a personal choice to put one aspect of your life over the other. When you’re mature enough to fight for what you really want, you’ll be able to put things in the proper order at the proper time.
I was one of those children who really bought into the notion that I could be whatever I wanted to be. And it just so happened that after practice and hard work, I was actually good at what I wanted to be. It wasn’t until years later, when Oprah said something to the affect of “You can’t be anything you want to be. You can only be what you were meant to be,” that I even begun to question the idea that all dreams don’t come true, even with hard work.
I saw that in the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom where vocalists who are more talented than all of our faves, live in near obscurity because, despite their efforts, their dreams of being solo stars never came to pass. We see it everyday with boys and then grown men who yearn to be in the NBA but weren’t blessed with the height, the agility or the speed to actually make it into the league.
While the rest of us were talking about being teachers, doctors, lawyers, firemen and women etc, the kids with hoop dreams or those who wanted to be rappers were asked to come up with a back up plan.
And while I always thought that you could be what you wanted to be, it made sense to me that these kids, mostly boys, should have something to fall back on. The odds are so astronomical. The likelihood is so small. But, if you can’t tell from the course of this essay so far, I don’t know if that’s necessarily the right thing to teach children.
This thought popped back into my head when I stumbled across this old Arsenio Hall interview with Eddie Murphy.
Here’s the transcript for those who can’t watch.
“I think you know what you’re supposed to do, deep down inside. I think everybody does. A lot of people just don’t go after it. Like most people start off ‘I want to be a this, but I’m going get that to make sure I have something to fall back on.’ And what you’re doing is you’re setting yourself up for failure cuz you’re going there’s a possibility that I’m going to fall back. And you put that out there and then you fall back. But if you just say ‘hey, this is what I want to do’ and you go do it, then you usually get your stuff the way you want it man.”
And that made me think, how many people take so much comfort in knowing they have a backup plan that they don’t really dedicate their all to pursuing their real dreams? How many people, when their real dreams seem elusive or more difficult than they thought, will choose to give up instead of push through? How many people settle for being less fulfilled just because their backup plan is easier to attain and more secure than what they really wanted and still want to do?
I don’t have the answers to life. As I mentioned before sometimes hard work doesn’t equate to you getting what you wanted. But I also think there’s something to be said about being so comfortable with a backup plan, in being safe that you don’t put your all into your original goal.
Life is full of challenges. Some people have to put certain dreams on the back burner, provide for children, or take a part time or full time hustle to finance their real passion. But to me, it seems like the feeling of not going for what you want would be too unsettling to even enjoy plan B.
What do you think, are backup plans necessary or are they just an escape from pursuing your passion?
All of us have a goal or two we would love to achieve. Regardless how big or small it might be, it’s important to keep shooting for the stars until you reach your full potential.
The question is, are you will to do what it takes to get there?
One thing I’ve learned about life is that talk is very cheap. Folks have no issue chatting your ear off about their intentions and plans, but more than likely have no immediate plans to pursue their endeavors. Hearing the same story over and over again really makes me work to step up my own game so I don’t become yet another person I know full of hot air.
When you set out to achieve your dreams, it in no way is an easy journey. If that were the case, more people would be millionaires and doing remarkable things. At the end of the day, you have to be ready to pay the price that comes with the perks of achievement. Here are a few common costs associated with the hustle.
A relentless attitude. This might sound like a no-brainer but is a necessary evil to achieving your goals. One of the biggest reasons why people are where they are is because they lack a determination to pursue their dreams, no matter what. If it’s easy for you to throw in the towel, you probably won’t make it very far.
Ability to leave your comfort zone. Here’s another one that’s easier said than done for some people. At some point, you need to stop doing the same old thing in other to see results. You can choose to be “comfortably miserable,” or head into uncharted territory to see better results.
Limited funds. No one says you need to go poor or rack up crazy debt before you make it big. This however does not mean you won’t experience setbacks that come with your hustle. Sometimes you have to start over at a new job or take a lateral position in efforts to gain the right amount of experience. If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a good chance you’ll need to funnel money back into your business to make it profitable. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by the fancy vacations others may take. Your time is going to come, but first, you need to take care of your business.
Sleepless nights. Getting a good night’s rest is something all of us need, but will leave on the back burner to get to where we need to be. That can be very counterproductive. Whether you have a creative mind that won’t shut off or stay up trying to finish a little extra work, sleepless nights are unfortunately a common reality for dream seekers. See the irony?
Lack of work/life balance. You really need to be careful with this one as it’s never a good idea to isolate yourself from loved ones. In a quest to be successful, it can be very easy to focus all of your efforts on the pursuit of happiness and not those who inspire you. While it’s great to have a healthy work/life balance, there might be days (or weeks) when you need to put less time into your personal life and more time into your business venture.
There’s always going to be a cost associated with “making it,” you just need to decide how much is too much to pay.
I must have been living under a rock because when I traveled to Orlando, Florida for the annual Disney Dreamers Academy, I had never heard of Lisa Nichols. But by the end of the trip, I was glad to have had the opportunity to speak to her for a bit.
As you may know, the Disney Dreamers Academy is a program hosted by the corporation, along with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine. During the course of four days selected students, with big dreams, have the opportunity to explore their passions, receive advice from those who have had success in related fields and enjoy the Disney parks along the way.
The kids end up getting quite a bit from the experience. But so do the parents.
Motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols spoke to the parents about the importance of not giving up on their own dreams because they find themselves raising a child. She told them that they don’t have to make a choice between their dreams and preparing their child to achieve their own.
In our exclusive interview, Ms. Nichols spoke to us about why it was important for her to speak to the parents this year and she also encouraged us about achieving the dreams (even the relationship ones) we have for ourselves.
See what she had to say in the video below.
When was the last time you allowed your imagination to take over and daydream? It can be a wonderful escape given the amount of crap we have to deal with on a daily basis. Daydreams have power so long as we pay attention to the things running through our mind. It’s no coincidence you have been playing the same scenarios over and over in your head. Now is the time to make it a reality. Here are some pointers on how to make your daydreams work for you.
Have you ever woken up from a dream that made you think, “Wow. I’m in need of some serious therapy”? You’re probably not as messed up as you think. Your dreams rarely have anything to do with the actual events/images/or people in the dream, but are rather a representation of something else. Here are 8 common dreams about life and love and what they mean.
I feel as though the saddest tragedy in life is when everyone can see our greatness but us. As I thought about it more, I don’t think that the problem is that we can’t see our own potential, it’s that we stop ourselves from achieving it. But why do we do this? What is it in us that will allow us to sabotage ourselves? Why would we take the easiest road when we know that that’s not the way that we truly desire to go?
You see your goal, it’s there, but for some reason you’re stopping yourself from reaching it. What’s going on?
For most, it’s an issue of fear.
If there’s one thing that humans can bond on, it’s the feeling of fear. Why? Because there’s something very palpable about the feeling. In everyone’s lives, at one point or another, we’ve encountered those strong feelings of dread/trepidation. It’s very intense and creates a sense of panic that will either immobilize us, or cause us to fight against it. However, when can fear be beneficial? When do you know to trust your gut, and when do you know to ignore that fear?
Now, I’m not a psychologist, but if we break down fear, it seems as though it can be summed up into three categories. The first category is self-preservation.
Our self-preservation fear is innate, it’s what has allowed us to survive. It’s the awareness in ourselves that causes us to look when something moves out of the corner of our eyes, tells us not to trust the creepy guy who you don’t know who wants to drive you to the store, or tells you “it’s not worth it” when you want to get into an argument/fight with the rude person. This fear is part of your survival instinct, to help you to live as long as you can on this Earth.
The second category is irrational.
Irrational fear is like your self-preservation fear, just magnified and with no concrete evidence. It’s like you’re afraid to go out of your house because you know what can happen, so you use that as a reason not to leave. Irrational fear causes you to put your life on hold, because you’re too afraid of what can happen, so you don’t live at all.
The third category is complacency.
Now this fear, to me, is extremely detrimental. You want a job, a new job, a better job, but the idea of “what ifs” overwhelms you so much that instead of going through with finding a job that’s ideal for you, you go the route of something more easy. This fear stops you from being great, allows you to stay in the rut that you’re in, and encourages mediocrity and below.
So what was the point of identifying these fears? The thing is that sometimes we can mistake one for the other. People will let their irrational fears and their need for consistency stop them from achieving things that they really want. They’ll rationalize why they shouldn’t, and try to put that fear in the self-preservation category, when the truth is, you’re only stopping yourself.
For those who believe in Charles Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the Fittest” know that it dictates that “only the strongest survive.” The truth of the matter is, living the best life that you can means to be strong, courageous, and to discard complacency. Trying to make irrational fears rational isn’t helping you. It’s hindering you.
When you’re having a moment where you have an opportunity of progress, and you feel that twinge of fear, try to categorize it. Figure out where it places. Is this fear because I could potentially put myself in danger? Am I fearful because I’m creating an invisible level of chaos, or am I fearful because I’m not comfortable of what lies beyond my life right now? Once you can figure those things out, then you might be able to start living the best life that you can.
Remember, most successful people have had that exact same fear you’ve had. However, they worked through it, made themselves vulnerable, and stepped out into a direction that was unfamiliar. They got to where they are by working through their fear, now it’s just up for you to do the same.