Don’t Listen to Dream Squashers

This post was originally published at Jody is the author of Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool and a passionate advocate for kids and families with alcoholic loved ones. Her spunky blog and infectious positivity have been a wonderful boost on days when I need a smile and a bit of writerly camaraderie.

IMG_0128.JPG This fall, I’m looking back at the bloggers who have been generous enough over the past few years to invite me into their communities and support my work as I’ve grown. Thanks for the love & inspiration, Jody!

The biggest message I want to get out through my work is, “If you want to follow your dreams, you have to get started — try something!”

Everyone has a dream, and as you grow up you’re encouraged to follow your dreams. But as you grow up even more, you realize that you‘re actually being encouraged to follow “normal” dreams that everyone else has — you know, be a firefighter, a teacher, a pilot, you can be whatever you want to be, as long as it’s something we’ve already defined as possible.

What if you have an unusual dream? What if you want to be a painter or a writer or a magician? Suddenly people start withdrawing their promises of “you can be whatever you want to be.”

First of all, if you have a so-called unusual dream, consider yourself lucky. You’re creative, you’re unique, you’re an individual, and you’re going to blow people’s minds one day! But, when you have a dream people aren’t used to, there will always be naysayers. People who don’t understand your dream — especially if they don’t understand how you’ll make a living doing it — will encourage you to do something more typical instead.

Why do they do that? Why are they so willing to encourage you to be a teacher but not a novelist?

The simple answer is, They’re afraid.

They love you, and they’re afraid you won’t succeed, and they worry about your well-being. Maybe they’re afraid to follow their own unusual dreams, and they’re jealous of your bravery. Maybe they’ve never met a painter or writer or magician in real life, and they’re simply afraid of the unknown.

The cool part about having an unusual dream and following it is that you’re overcoming your fears. You probably have fears just like theirs, but you’re facing and overcoming them, because you know how important your dream is.

But when people you care about or respect start telling you that your dream isn’t going to work out, that you should try something else, it can get under your skin. It can start to make you worry and wonder if maybe they’re right. It could even make you decide to stop following your dream.

Don’t let that happen!

Your dream is too important to be squashed by silly naysayers and their unfounded fears.

When someone tells you your dream isn’t going to work out, you tell them, It will, too! Help them understand why it’s so important to you and that you can, indeed, succeed. But remember that they’re worried for you because they don’t understand, so try to explain your dream to them in ways that help them understand.

Talk about what they think is important.

If your mom is worried that you can’t make money as a writer, don’t tell her that you have to be a writer because of your passion. Explain to her the ways that new writers make a living and how that fits into your plan. Pick a famous writer she’s heard of, and learn together about the path that person took to success.

Put it into perspective.

If your friends don’t think you can succeed as an actor because they only know about movie stars, whose lives are so far removed from their own, help them understand how complex the industry is. Tell them about a theater troupe in your area or a small web series or successful T.V. commercials, where actors are making a living even if they’re not well-known.

Share your confidence!

If your classmates are jealous of your bravery and self-confidence, share it with them! Become a motivator, and encourage them to face their fears and follow their own unusual dreams.

Positivity is infectious, and once you help them realize that their dreams are possible, they’ll of course understand that yours are, too.

And, remember, if all else fails, the bottom line is you don’t have to listen to naysayers. Your dream doesn’t depend on their approval. Only you can make or break your dreams.

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