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Dare To Believe

February 26, 2015

Do you remember that point in your life when you thought that you could be anything, whether a princess, the President, or virtually anything in the world? When did the act of believing that you could do anything you wanted to be, become simple child’s play, or make believe? Why are children still leading the way when it comes to thinking “outside the box” on our career possibilities?

My daughter once told me, when she was 6 years old, that she wanted to be a magician, a ballerina, a chef, and a black belt martial artist. At the age of 15 she is not only thriving as a budding young baker, and the family’s reigning champ at ‘Just Dance’, but she is also one stripe away from becoming the youngest black belt in her martial arts academy. I told her, when she gave me her original list of things she wanted to be, that she could be and do anything she set her mind to do; and her mother and I would be there to support her every step of the way.

I once told me son to never let anyone doubt him on what he could become in his life, not even his own self-doubt. As a person that’s experienced his own amount of doubters in life, I told my son that no one is capable of doubting him more than he can doubt himself; and outside doubters, are just extra noise in his ears.

After I finished my Bachelor degree in Human Development and Family Science I decided to pursue a second Bachelor degree in Creative Writing. This was during the time the country fell into the recession of 2008, which saw a lot of people out of work and hiring freezes. I have always loved writing, and I wanted to use the medium to not only reach people, but to earn a living. I talked with an academic advisor who asked me why I wanted to become a writer. After offering my explanation, he then tried to warn me that not everyone can achieve success, and become a household name in writing.

I spouted off a couple of unfamiliar names of writers I knew about, who despite not being commercially recognized wrote several stories that were then sold, and optioned for films. A few other writers sold their stories, though they never saw their stories adapted to film. These writers made millions of dollars, but were never big household names, which was my counter point to his statement that I wouldn’t gain success simply by becoming a writer. I defined success differently than he did.

While many will simply say that he was warning me about the realities of becoming a writer, I felt that he was doubting me; and I, instead, used it as motivation. By all counts, I had already achieved success by being the second one in my family to ever to go to college and finish; but even beyond that, I was seeking to continue my education, and in the process of becoming a Therapist I was going to use writing as a fallback secondary career.

I was clearly a dreamer! Imagine that, at one point, I was working my way through school by doing custodian work, cleaning office buildings and hospitals at night, and going to school during the day. It was humbling work that kept me grounded, and it motivated me to work harder in order to finish school, and have more out of life. The more I accomplished in education, the more I wanted in life, and with each accomplishment I had yet another example of exactly what I could achieve if I set my mind to it.

At one point, I had a fireplace mantle filled with my educational achievements, but I still didn’t have a job in the field to show for it. That’s the period of time that I began to fall into depression. Yet, instead of fully breaking down, I decided to share my experiences and writings, (which I kept to myself), with my writing class. In the process I realized even more how much I wanted to write, and not simply practice it as a hobby.

The opportunity to write, and express myself, was not only therapeutic, but it literally kept me from going off the deep end completely! Whether or not I was officially a writer, I knew beyond a doubt what I wanted to do in life, and I had the right support system to help encourage my passion for writing. The people that are closest to you will either help, or hinder your longing to be whatever it is you desire to do in life.

In a perfect world you would prefer they help and encourage your passion, but the question you have to ask, and answer for yourself, is… if the people closest to you aren’t helping or encouraging you, why do you have them in your life? If your BFF is too busy laughing at your goals, or making you feel foolish for even trying, then perhaps it’s time that you auditioned for a replacement. I have enough self-doubt within my own head… I don’t need any help doubting what I’m hoping to accomplish. I need supporters, not naysayers!

After I finished my Master’s degree in Psychology, and begun my training as a Therapist, my 18 year old son, (who is an aspiring artist), came to me and explained how he wanted to possibly become a Therapist, and use Art Therapy in order to help children with behavioral issues. Not only did I “geek out” a bit at his admission, but I felt proud that he was objectively considering using something he was gifted in, as a means of establishing a possible future profession for himself. I told him that I would help support him in any way I could when he found his calling.

Life is hard enough even when you have support; can you imagine what it’s like to have a dream, but lack the support of the people in your life? I have seen too many people justify straying in their relationships because of the perception of not being fully supported. Another thing that happens in relationships is that when people feel that their partner lacks ambition these people tend to seek compatibility elsewhere, whether they even realize it or not.

Can a man with ambition be shackled to a woman who is content with simply existing? Can a woman with high aspiration of making something with her life be satisfied with a man who is happy with partying and drinking? Can people be happy paired with others whose ambition lacks the same passion that they have? The reality of these couplings is that both parties are going to be affected by the pressures of the situation. The reality of these couplings is that the people with ambitions are typically hindered by their partner’s complete lack thereof. These situations usually result in one party becoming pressured by the other partner’s ambitions and goals and they tend to “dig in” instead of getting on board with their partners motivation and drive.

There’s nothing wrong with being with a person who has goals and dreams, even if they surpass your own; but you typically want to be with someone who isn’t threatened by your dreams. It’s more favorable if, at the same time, they at least have a few of their own. The key is knowing who you are, and the value of what you bring to the relationship. When both you and your partner know what you bring to the relationship, and how you support their endeavors, all should be fine. Unfortunately, this only applies in a perfect world, and we live in the real world.

A true Christian isn’t likely to have a successful relationship with an atheist. A person with no ambitions can be attracted to someone who has goals; but if that relationship is to work they both will have to be realistic about what they want, and the compromises that will have to be made one way or the other.

There is something attractive and appealing about people who are not only confident, but have a well thought out plan to get to where they want to be in life. While people might want to romanticize the “bad boy” or “bad girl” appeal factor, I believe that women with goals and priorities are quite sexy and men will always chase them, while women who are easily impressed are eternally available for any line that any man is feeding her.

When I met my wife, she had her goals and ambitions, and I had a few of my own; but what happened in the process of us getting together was that she, not only made me want more out of life, but she made me believe that it was possible for me to actually achieve anything I set my mind to do. While our educational backgrounds and achievements are as diverse as are our personalities, we make it work, and together we make a pretty unique couple. We complement each other.

In a society that seems fairly content in upholding stereotypes and maintaining the standards as far as who can do what, (men vs. women), my wife and I teach our children they can maintain their dreams and aspiration when they get older just as they had when they were younger. An intelligent woman with a good nose for business could not only run her own company, but she could be considered a viable candidate right alongside the men in her desired profession.

We shouldn’t hinder our children by making them settle for what society dictates that they can be. If I let society tell me what I could be, I would still be settling for working manual labor jobs for little pay as if I had no other options. I didn’t go back to school and sacrifice all those years studying, all just to settle for what someone decides I can do for a living.

I want more out of life, and I encourage my children, my friends, and all that would hear my words, to want more out of life also. If you dare to dream, you might as well dream big because it doesn’t take much effort to simply get by. If you want more out of life you might as well aspire to achieve far more than the ordinary.

While it’s normal to want a job, a car, and a nice place to call home, it’s an entirely different situation to say, “I want to make a difference in this world.” In the process you not only find your calling, which happens to bring you all of the above, but it gives you a purpose in life all at the same time! I encourage everyone to dream big, and aspire to achieve more in life; but, may I remind you, that dreaming big and wanting more is not always equivalent to mere financial success or fame. It’s more of a ‘state’ which you will recognize once you get there because it’s something that you feel, more so than you can see or touch.

Dare to believe and achieve more in life, and see how many people get on board to support you in your efforts. Dreaming is not just for kids, and you should not be made to feel bad or foolish because you want more in life than a few of the people around you. Don’t let other people’s inability to dream hinder your own aspiration for your life, and learn to take comfort in knowing that the only person you really need to convince, is yourself. Dreaming big is sometimes scary, but as a person that has overcome all the scary obstacles in his own life, I can tell you that it’s an amazing feeling once you see each of your dreams finally come true.

So go ahead, and dare to dream… I’m dreaming with you.

Eric

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