Penny For Your Thoughts: “I’m Not Ready” And Other Things We Say To Keep From Going After Our Dreams

November 23, 2015  |  

Everyone has a dream. Some people talk about their dreams. Sometimes dream talk takes the form of what other people see for us that we don’t see for ourselves. Sometimes dream talk takes the form of sharing our own deepest desires for our future. I, for one, don’t like a lot of dream talk all of the time because dream talk always comes with a lot of excuses. Just the other day, I was having a dream talk conversation when I heard myself say, “But…I don’t know.” I don’t know is my number one excuse, the main way that I hit ctrl+alt+delete on my dreams.

If you’re anything like me, you, too, have ways of talking yourself out of dream talk.  Maybe some of these refrains sound familiar.

I don’t know. This will ring familiar if you’re someone who likes to shut down a conversation before it gets too deep, too real. There you are, telling one of your sister friends all about how you’ve always wanted to start a YouTube channel to record reviews of your Netflix binge-watching. You even have a name for the channel, Beauty and the Binge, which your sister friend thinks is a dope idea, one of the best you’ve ever had. In fact, your sister friend says that she knows Franchesca Ramsey, the blogger whose brilliant “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls” video went viral a few years ago. At first, you’re like, “Oh, cool!” But then, you’re like, “I don’t know…” and you quickly change the subject.

“I don’t know” is the world’s longest jump-prep for double dutch. “I don’t know” is what we tell ourselves when we do know, but we’re scared to act on what we know or what we think we know. “I don’t know” is code for “Maybe it’s not such a good idea after all. Who do I think I am anyway? No one wants to see/read/listen to/watch my _____. I’m trippin’.”

I’m not ready. Now imagine the same scenario, you with your YouTube idea and your sister friend with a hookup to someone who might help you make it happen. Again, you say, “Oh cool!”  But then you say, “But I’m not ready for all that yet.” You’re right. You’re probably not ready to launch a YouTube channel right at that minute but, you’re more ready than you think you are, and you’re definitely ready to take steps in the direction of where you want to go. Think of your unborn dreams as unborn children. Folks say you never feel really ready to have a kid, so consider that you will never feel 100 percent ready to make your dream, however big, small or silly, come true. But maybe, just maybe, you’re more equipped than you think.

I don’t want to look stupid. You will look stupid. You just will. So get over it. Fear of looking stupid is what keeps women from having sex with the lights on. Fear of looking stupid is what keeps women from asking for a pay raise. Fear of looking stupid is what keeps women from dancing like Drake in public. Fear of looking stupid is what keeps women from tapping other women on the shoulder to say, “Girl, you’re beautiful!” Fear of looking stupid holds us back from those beautifully vulnerable moments that have the potential to offer a great payoff.

I don’t want anyone to steal my idea. This is for everyone who’s afraid to utter a single word about their “secret project.” Yes, people can be shady. But here’s what I know for sure: No one can do you like you. Your idea is you. My favorite song by the jazz singer Abbey Lincoln is “Throw It Away” and the chorus says, “Throw it away. Throw it away. Give your love. Live your life. Each and every day. And keep your hand wide open. Let the sun shine through. ‘Cause you can never lose a thing, if it belongs to you.”

You can never, ever lose a thing if it belongs to you.

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