Chasing Your Dreams: Here’s the Reality (Ramble alert)…
Sometimes, chasing your dreams isn’t as simple as it’s made out to be – for a whole host of reasons. We all know it. This post is just a reminder (I’m not trying to be the ultimate pessimist, I promise).
The problem with the ‘inspirational quote syndrome’
The problem begins with the ‘inspirational quote syndrome’. If you’ve grown up in the digital age, you’ve at some point been subject to the ‘inspirational quote syndrome’ – I put money on it. This phenomenon most often occurs via social media. It involves one party (or more) unnecessarily bombarding another’s feed with idealistic and, often, unrealistic quotes, at any given time. I can honestly say that if I received a penny for every time I encountered the expression, ‘You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain’, written in flawless calligraphy, while scrolling through my Instagram feed, I would probably be rich enough not to bother with the next platitude (which also gets frequently posted): ‘chase your dreams.’
The problem with this latter motto – which has been widely spread thanks to the ‘inspirational quote syndrome’ – is that it perpetuates a specific belief system that encourages people to believe anything can be achieved if they just wish for it. This isn’t true, obviously.
Let’s be clear: I’m all for someone following their passions (and for posting inspirational quotes – heck, I do it too! #sorrynotsorry). However, I want to talk about the reality of what going after your ambitions actually entails.
Chasing your dreams will be hard work
Here is the first truth. It’s all good telling people to follow their life purpose via social media, but more of us should also be placing an emphasis on the ‘hard work’ aspect. Setting out to become a doctor or a bestselling novelist will require hard work and discipline. It will never be easy, as it’s often made out to be online. At the risk of sounding ironic, given my criticisms, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.
If you have high ambitions, then you will need to work your ass off to achieve them. And if you apply yourself, you can achieve them. If not, well…
Let’s not forget this.
Some people are lucky
This is the second thing to consider. Some people really are just lucky. You may or may not be one of them.
That vlogger who reached 700,000 subscribers in one year? Perhaps they’d started just as Vine or YouTube had launched, and there was a lot less competition in their field. Maybe they were friends with Vloggers who already had very large followings, and were able to expand their reach that way. Or, perhaps they were advantaged enough to be able to buy high tech equipment, right off the bat, to create stunning videos (nothing against this! If you have an advantage, then why not use it?).
Please weigh up whether or not this fits your circumstance – it might! If it does, that’s awesome! If it doesn’t, then know that when ‘ chasing your dreams, ’ the challenges that you face will probably take more time to overcome. This links in with the first point I made, but it helps to remember that those who you aspire to be, may* have had fewer challenges when starting.
It doesn’t always happen
Chasing your dreams sometimes isn’t that simple – despite how much effort you’re willing to put in. For starters, goals can change. What’s the point in pursuing something that you’re passionate about now; if it isn’t something that you would want to do in twenty years’ time? Also, sometimes what you really want to do is in direct conflict with other aspects of your life – aspects that you don’t want to change. For example, a father might not be able to pursue his ambitions of backpacking in the most remote parts of the world, if he has three young children at home who rely on him. My point is, thanks to social media, we focus so much on telling other people (as well as ourselves) that anything is possible. We don’t stop to consider the reality that we live in.
Sometimes it isn’t so black and white.
Sometimes we must compromise.
Those of us who have fallen victim to the ‘inspirational quote syndrome’ won’t always think about this. Sometimes, chasing our dreams may be something as small as completing an online course, or saving up for the ultimate holiday. And that’s okay. We don’t have to think so big that we immediately set ourselves up for too much hardship.
Not everyone will support you
This is the final point that I want to make. Sometimes, we expect that others will cheer us on because, well, why wouldn’t they? The reality is, others (e.g. parents) might have different ambitions for you, and alternative ideas about what you should be doing. I’m not saying that you should follow someone else’s plan (in fact, I think that you should always follow your own). However, not everyone will have a positive reaction to yours. Alternatively, some people might not understand why you want to do what you’re setting out to achieve, and so won’t offer you any support for that reason. You might even be criticised by others. This can affect us more than we might think.
It comes back to that simplicity which is perpetuated by the ‘inspirational quote syndrome’ online. We might set a goal thinking that it won’t take much to achieve, but if reality hits us and we receive little encouragement, or face any obstacle, then we be can deterred.
I’m not saying that it’s impossible…
Just that it’s important to really think about what hurdles you will face when chasing your dreams, and how you will overcome them. A lot of things are achievable. The hardest tasks are also achievable. But most ambitions can’t be achieved without work, effort, and time.
As stupid as it sounds (I got sucked into it), don’t let quotes on social media tell you otherwise.
EDIT: I know it sounds really stupid, but if enough people are telling you that it can easily be done then you start to believe it. Or, at least, I did…
*Again, they may not have. I’m not using this argument to put down the hard work and success of others, by any means. I’m simply acknowledging that a minority of successful individuals will likely have had fewer challenges to overcome.
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