Follow Your Dreams
In light of recent worldwide events, and how their effect is grabbing hold of all of us and disrupting life as we know it, I think it is really relevant for me to try and describe a lesson that has been so hard for me to wrap my brain around throughout the years. For decades of my life, I have been told to “do what makes you happy”, or to “follow my bliss”, or to “remember you can do anything you put your mind to” and many other worn-out cliche comments that are said to people who are setting their sights on future plans. For an equal number of years, I have beat myself up about my “lack of focus” and my inability to plan and create a life with a specific direction. Let me explain…..
A scenario –
Billy is raised in a blue-collar family, and his mother loved to learn about different things. She would take him on long walks, show various simple quirks in the neighborhood houses and parks, and give simple explanations for his questions. Through her, Billy is introduced at an early age to books and the local library. He develops an enormous love of reading, and learns early that books can do more than tell stories; they can teach him how to do things, how to create and understand.
As he grows he watches his father and friends sit and play cribbage and laugh and talk after a hard day of working in the sun. So, one day he goes to the library and checks out a book about cribbage, after pouring over it for a couple of days he asks his dad if they can play. His father replies, “cribbage is a tough game to learn son, if you want, I can begin to teach you how to play.” The young boy squares his shoulders and says: “I know the rules, and I would like to try to play you before the lessons if that’s ok.” So, they play, Billy loses to his father that first game, but his dad is equally impressed by the boy’s knowledge. They begin to have nightly games and over those games, they talk and learn more about one another and about the game.
Through the years Billy relies on books more and more to help him learn. He loves school and is often teased by other boys about his intense study habits. He resigns himself to be the butt of their jokes, until one day after one of his meandering walks with his mother near the practice field, he goes to the library and checks out a book about football! He studies it, and checks out more books on the subject, all summer he reads about football between his chores at home. When fall comes he tries out for the high school team, and makes the cut, playing varsity football his entire high school career. Demonstrating to himself once again the power of books and knowledge.
Upon graduation, he opts to return his focus to his first love and majors in history. Because his family is not financially able to support his college effort, he finds a job working for a construction company while taking classes. He learns about all the various processes required to build a home, and all the time and effort required to give it the beautiful character and shape he loves so much. He is fascinated with the subject and spends time exploring old architecture in multiple cities through various books. He also continues to thrive in the company because the chores he had to do as a child helped him develop the sense of accomplishment that comes from looking at a job completed with his own two hands.
After completing his degree, he decides what he wants to do is couple his love of history and old architecture, and his sense of wonder and accomplishment at a job well done into his own construction company. He works hard and acquires his general contractor’s license, much to the shock and horror of his college professors and friends who are planning to become architects and history professors, because they see his choice as him giving up, not being willing to work to achieve the goal at hand, not able to make the grade. Each of them failing to realize that throughout history it is proven that not everyone’s path looks the same.
Fast forward 20 years, Billy is the owner of a well known and highly acclaimed construction company that’s primary focus is remodeling old victorian homes with modern conveniences without distracting from their original beauty. He loves his work, has time to travel and enjoy different areas of the world and the history they contain. His love of learning has never been squashed, and his path is his own.
Billy’s path seems similar to many people from his humble beginnings, right through to the part where he opts to change direction and acquire his contractor’s license. You see, for many of us, the voices of the naysayers are too loud. They drown out our heart’s desire and convince us that we should not follow our bliss, but rather strive to achieve and conquer the conquest in front of us. I think that the story is a simple demonstration of how often society steals a person’s love of learning from them. Not intentionally, but in an effort to help someone reach their potential we sometimes skip over the part that demonstrates their truest heart.
It’s hard to consider this for yourself, even harder to contemplate for our kids because we want them to live their best lives and achieve all they can, but in the midst of that we often forget to ask the most important question of all – does it make you happy? Are you able to wake up in the morning and be content with your choices?
If the answer is “not yet”, then ask yourself if your path is pointing you in a direction that will allow you to look back at the end of your life and be satisfied that you did enjoy your life while providing an environment for your family to flourish in as well. If it’s not, there’s still time to adjust your course.
If the answer to those questions is YES, then it doesn’t matter what society tells you to do, it doesn’t matter what others will think, all that really should matter is your ability to be a positive point in this world, a person who is following their dream will naturally emit positive energy and will help others seek the same for themselves. Imagine, if each of us took a moment to consider this and then chose to act on what fuels our passion. What a change to the world it would make!