Sometimes you don’t realize how much “living” can suck the vitality out of your dreams until you start thinking about all the things you once wanted and aspired to and see how many of them have dropped off the list. You start to consider how many of those things you actually feel you can accomplish anymore because you look at life as it is and all you can see is what you haven’t done. Your ability to hope for more and strive for the big, scary things become encumbered by the reality of what can “realistically” happen based on your past and present. It’s crazy how fast dreams can die when not fed with hope and vigor.
Take, for instance, just one of my dreams – to have an earned doctorate degree. My plan was to have my PhD by 28, ever since i was 16 and heard of a friend of the family accomplishing that in like manner. And there were so many things in my life that reinforced that I could do this. My maternal grandmother always used to say that I was a “student” – speaking to my love of learning. She spoke of this when I was a toddler. I remember Pastor Rod Parks calling me “Dr. Burton” since I was 11 or 12. I relished being voted “Most Likely to Succeed” for my high school class. Now, here I am 2 months shy of my 27th birthday, travailing through my second Masters program and I think of that dream of an earned doctorate and it seems more and more like just a dream. Some days I just resign my thoughts to the idea that I just don’t have it in me to do more years of schooling (I’m tired y’all…no LOL). But some days when i think about giving up on that desire, it hurts. And this is just one of my dreams.
So why am i talking about this today? I don’t know honestly. It’s just been on my heart for awhile. One of the biggest thing that I’ve learned this year is that i have been too timid in many areas of my life. I have shrunk back, stepped aside, and quieted down on many things when in reality my reaction should have been the opposite. I didn’t realize how many of my dreams i had let life crush until i looked around at others who are making things happen, against the odds. That’s why I am such an adamant supporter of entrepreneurs, especially those who are from my own community, my own age group, my own socioeconomic status. One of my dreams is to start a nonprofit organization but I’ve gone back and forth on it for so long, much out of fear of inadequacy and much out of fear that i may not have anything new or different to bring to the table.
Another thing that I realized within the past few months is that I don’t pray fervently about things that I really want. I know that sounds stupid but it is the truth. Somewhere along the line I have developed a fear that if I pray about my desires, God will somehow find a way to tell me no. And since He gets His way about things anyway, I might as well not even pray about it. If this is not your issue with God, bless you. But I’m being honest. I don’t know the root of it, though I suspect part of it is a fear of rejection (aka some of the major things I’ve prayed for in the past did not pan out the way I asked for them or hoped them to). Either way, every time I feel myself taking a hope or desire to the Lord in prayer, i end up feeling…like it’s not worth it.
The only remedy I’ve found to this so far is to just work my way through the fear and apathy. Activating your faith requires hard actions many times. That’s why it’s faith. I’ve been asking the Lord to help me with the way I view Him – to help my unbelief. I feel like when I’m confident with the way God sees me, the way God values me, and the way God values my life, I’m more confident with the way I see me, see my life, and value my life and dreams. I’ve got a ways to go but I’m moving – and that counts toward dreams materializing into realities.
It’s been a blessing to look around me (and not far either) and see those who are daring to dream and live out their dreams. I know people who have left well paying jobs, relocated to new places, endured valley lows – all in pursuit of a dream. I know people who work 9-5s and then go home work their dreams off sheer passion. Sleep be damned. And though I’m sure they’d never call it easy, they would say it’s been/is/will be worth it. Thank you for the inspiration.
A dream worth having is worth seeing realized. So wherever you find yourself and in whatever stage you find yourself, don’t forget to work towards your purpose. Your purpose is often times what fuels your dreams and you are rarely satisfied without the pursuit of it.
dream. plan. go.
“We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams…” via Willie Wonka
“If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau