Why You Must Follow Your Dreams
BY Ryan O'Connell
"Okay, I just puked in my mouth a little bit from writing “WHY YOU MUST FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS.” Who do I think I am? Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds? Bear with me though because I promise to not be so cheesy. I’ll pretend you’re all lactose intolerant and, thus, can’t handle too much cheese in your writing.
So, yes, what I wrote is true albeit cliche: you must follow your dreams. In my mind, there should be no other alternative. I mean what do you do if you don’t follow your dreams? Chase after your nightmares? No, it’s imperative that you go out into the world and get what’s yours. Your dreams could be anything ranging from anthropologist to hot dog eating contest champion of the world to being a writer! (That’s me, I write!) Growing up I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, which I think is true of most writers. Because, besides putting words down on a page, we’re pretty much a defective bunch. We can’t do anything besides feel things intensely and then try to write about such feelings in an articulate manner! If a writer has a valid plan B for their career, they might just be doing it wrong.
No one is where they want to be after college. That’s pretty much a given. Even the ones who seemingly luck out with an amazing job and brag to Facebook about it aren’t exactly content. But here’s where the whole “following your dreams” thing comes into play. You can’t be afraid to go after what you want. You can’t be shy or bashful or insecure. Sure, you can be that on the inside but externally you need to project confidence. You need to pretend that you know what you’re doing until you actually do. The only way anyone learns anything is by pretending that they knew how to do it in the first place.
Human beings like to do this thing where they complain about their life but then take no steps to change it. I do it. You do it. Mariah Carey probably even does it. But when it comes to pursuing the career of your choice, it’s necessary for you not to fall into the usual traps. If someone isn’t where they want to be in their life, chances are a big part of that is because of fear. People are legitimately afraid to pursue their dreams, which is strange because it’s what would make them happy. Why are they cock-blocking themselves from potential joy? Is it because they’re afraid to fail? Here’s how I look at it: the fear of not getting your dream job should outweigh the fear of actually putting yourself out there to get it. The fear of being stuck in something you hate should trump your fear of looking like a fool. Because, honestly, what do you think makes you look more stupid: being at a job everyone knows you hate or becoming a tenacious diva and going balls to the wall with what you REALLY want to do?
Anxiety often works in two ways. You have the kind that leaves you debilitated in bed and feeling paralyzed OR you have the anxiety that acts as a stimulant and lights a fire under your ass. Always shoot for the latter and pray that you don’t contract the former. Instead of getting angry that someone you know is doing what you want to do, use it as motivation. I feel like everyone’s success is rooted in a little bit of pettiness, a little bit of “Look at me now, bitch!” There’s no shame in that though. Do whatever you need to do, babe! If revenge is fueling your drive, just let it take you to where you need to go.
It takes real courage to follow your dreams. (Ew, I just puked again! Sorry for the cheesiness!) That’s why I hate the internet sometimes. It seems to exist with the sole intention of trashing anything that’s ever created. But you know what? Kudos to ANYONE for having the balls to contribute something, especially knowing that there’ll be a million people who DON’T have the balls, waiting to tear it down. Kudos to anyone who believes that they have something worthwhile to add to the conversation. If they fail, it’s not embarrassing. What is embarrassing are the people who stayed silent and only opened their mouths to criticize. They have so much inside of them that they’re letting go to waste. Anger and insecurity is winning.
So just do it. Stop being a scaredy-cat and set some concrete plans in motion. Think of yourself at 60 years old and living in a sea of regret because you didn’t take advantage of the opportunities being offered to you. This is your time. This is your life. (LE TIGRE LYRIC). If you aren’t going to pursue something now, when the hell are you?"
I am going to re-read this post on Sunday night...and probably again Monday morning as I anxiously begin the next chapter in my professional life. I have had an amazing year at my current job but I am
equal parts terrified and thrilled to embrace a new challenge as a speech-language pathologist at the Children's National Medical Center. Wish me luck!