Before You Birth Your Dreams, Be Sure to Fatten them Up
“…I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” —George Bernard Shaw
What is your dream life? If you could launch your dream creative or entrepreneurial endeavor, how would it look, taste, and feel? What are the dreams you’ve been afraid to share with your family and friends, the dreams you hardly dare to tell yourself?
Whatever it is, I am going to go out on a limb and guess that it could be even bigger.
In fact, maybe you haven’t even dreamed it yet!
I could be wrong. I’m basing my hypothesis on a sample size of one human: myself. All the same, I think we have a tendency as a society, as a culture, to try to cut down our dreams to fit inside that cramped, uncomfortable box we call “being realistic.”
We love to talk about making our dreams come true. The sky’s the limit. Shoot for the moon. And other bland cliches that are supposed to be inspiring.
And yet, when it actually comes to doing it, to dreaming those dreams, we peak in Kindergarten. From then on it’s a downhill battle of practicality, shaping our dreams to suit college applications, job interviews, first dates, and family dinners.
Will they like our dreams? Will we be accepted for our true desires, or is it safer to water ourselves, and our dreams, down?
I think it’s great to have practical goals and aspirations—the stuff of family reunions and job applications. They keep us focused and challenge us to grow. However, I would argue that when we limit (yes, limit) ourselves *only* to what “makes sense,” two things happen:
1. We dream small, because we are scared to dream too big.
I notice this in myself all the time as I vision new projects. That’s why it took me years to finally sit down and write my first book. A travel blog was an “achievable” dream. But a book… What if I failed? Or worse, what if I succeeded?!
If I set a goal, dream a dream, and make it real, then I suddenly have a responsibility to see it through. What if I write the book? Then I feel compelled to publish it, market it, and sell it. If I start the business and it begins to grow, then I must live up to the promises I’ve made in our mission statement, and prove myself worthy of the venture I myself have set into motion. The stakes only get higher as our projects grow into their full potential. Failure is scary, but then, I think success can be just as terrifying.
2. We don’t know what we don’t know.
I can’t plan a future full of people I haven’t met yet, experiences I have yet to live, and information I haven’t yet learned. I can only set goals that exist within the realm of conscious possibility. But what about all the possibilities I can’t even imagine?
I’ve had a lot of conversations recently about the gnarled, labyrinthine trails we call our life path. (Of course, in retrospect, it always seems to make more sense.) Ten years ago, I never could have imagined that I would be living in Costa Rica, working with an amazing agricultural storytelling platform (@producersmarket), running a holistic self-defense project (@mujeresfuertescostarica), publishing a book (@vagabondesstravel), or co-founding a certain creative consulting business responsible for this very blog (@medusamediacollective).
I didn’t dream up this life; I lived it into existence, one day at a time. In fact, I couldn’t have dreamed it even if I’d tried! So many key ingredients hadn’t come into my path yet.
How can we dream big if we can’t even possibly imagine the future possibilities ahead of us? Ay, there’s the rub. There is a fine line between allowing our life to flow according to its own plan, and giving it a supersized, wild-dreaming nudge in a certain direction. I don’t think we have to choose one or the other. We can be both outlandishly imaginative in our dreaming and goal-setting, and also exceptionally fluid in our willingness to follow the unexpected plot twists and seize the undreamed opportunities that arise.
That’s all to say, I may not know you or your dreams, but I’d still like to challenge you to consider what your dreams might look like if you weren’t limited by pesky things like, “being realistic,” or “managing expectations.”
What are the dreams you’ve never dared to entertain? The possibilities that haven’t even entered into your orbit of awareness? What if the sky isn’t the limit?
Today, I know that I have *no idea* what my life will look like ten years from now. The people, places, ideas, and projects that will populate it—maybe I haven’t even met them yet. I certainly haven’t dreamed them. I also know that the dreams I’m terrified to chase are probably the ones most worthy of my attention. These are the wild creatures calling me to be bigger and more daring than I thought possible.
For me, that is all exhilarating! What about you?
What are your deepest, darkest dreams? The ones you’ve been afraid to tell your family and friends. The ones still gestating deep inside your soul.
What are the dreams you haven’t even dared to dream?
We want to help you birth them!
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” —Mark Twain
Ready to birth your dream book, business, or project? Sometimes, it takes a bit of creative consulting—and some really deep breaths. That’s exactly why we’ve created Medusa Media Collective, to help you through the process. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!
Toby Israel is Medusa’s Chief Brainstormer. She is a vagabondess and a storyteller who has a metaphorical closet full of hats, including: Author, Editor, Marketing Consultant, Movement Artist, and Empowerment Self-Defense Instructor. Toby holds a BA in Anthropology from Middlebury College and an MA in Peace and Media Studies from the University for Peace. She speaks four languages, but only edits in English.