Unfolding your dreams

For today, THIS: your weekly motivation from the ever lovely, ever encouraging Laini Taylor, whose wildly romantic post on seizing your dreams made me tear up.

“Daydreaming, however awesome it is, is passive. It happens in your head. Learning to make dreams real is another matter, and I think it should be the work of your life. Everyone’s life, whatever their dream.”

I’ll admit, on my long swims in the morning, I often daydream about making it big, getting my stories out in the world and having people – many people – appreciate them. I dream about having fans who gush about my books the way I gush about other authors’ books; I dream about earning enough money to buy my dad a bigger house, a new car, take him on a trip around the world, earning enough so that he doesn’t have to face all that stress at work anymore and work late nights; I dream about having the financial and creative freedom to write the things I want to write and not feel guilty about that, like I ought to be doing something else to prove my worth.

But once I get out of the water, it’s back to reality and I’m making my way to the office. My job doesn’t suck, but it’s not my dream job. My dream job is still somewhere out there, beyond my reach, because I’m too afraid to drop everything and chase it.

But then:

“The thing is, there will be pressure to adjust your expectations, always shrinking them, shrinking, shrinking, until they fit in your pocket like a folded slip of paper, and you know what happens to folded slips of paper in your pocket. They go through the wash and get ruined. Don’t ever put your dream in your pocket.”

What I don’t quite agree with, though, is this:

“And “backup plan” is code for, “Give up on your dreams,” and everyone I know who put any energy into a backup plan is now living that backup plan instead of their dream. Put all your energy into your dream. That’s the only way it will ever become real.”

Well, no. That may be the ideal way, but sometimes we have no choice but to make do. I’m not saying we have to settle, but we do have to survive. Especially for a fresh grad like me, the pressure is on to come out and make my mark, achieve something or watch my peers get ahead without me. There are expectations, particularly from my dad, to get a well-paying job with good career prospects.

It sounds romantic, doing everything you can to reach your dreams, fighting the good fight and emerging victorious in the end. But many times, it’s time-consuming and morale-draining, and we need a regular income AS we work for the life we dream of. It may sound like we are settling, and living the life others want us to live, but I see it as surviving. Dreams don’t put food on the table or pay the bills. And while we are doing all we can to fulfill them, we need our income. We need a backup plan.

And such is life.

Maybe I’m being realistic, or cynical, or maybe I’m just afraid. It’s always nice to have someone remind you why it’s okay to dream big and let go of your inhibitions, remind you to strive for what you TRULY MADLY DEEPLY want. It’s nice to borrow some courage from someone who dared to fight for what she wants and is living proof that dreams can come true if you hold on long enough and work your ass off for it.

Hence:

Maybe when life makes us put our dreams in our pockets, the best thing to do is fold them into paper cranes and let them fly. Sounds noble and impractical, but Steve Jobs did advise us to stay hungry and stay foolish, and sometimes hungry fools do get the happiest endings of all.
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