For years I have been a proud dreamer. I could get lost in the clouds for hours, dreaming of traveling to far away countries and embracing unique cultures. The magic of my wedding day, my snowy dress that shimmers and sparkles in the light as it flows likes ocean waves with every step I take. The love in my future husband’s eyes as the tiny hand of our baby delicately wraps itself around his finger. My dream career: a bestselling author, changing people’s hearts with my words. A CNN journalist serving the people and giving voice to those who have not been heard for centuries.
I spend majority of my life in my dreams. What’s the problem with spending so much time dancing among sunset-painted cotton candy clouds? Well the problem is that my bare feet rarely kiss the earth, and by constantly drifting off into my dreams, I become absent from my own life and out of touch with the people I love.
The queen Shonda Rhimes stated in her book Year of Yes, “Lesson One: Ditch the dream. Be a doer not a dreamer.” She describes in her speech for the graduating class of Dartmouth, “You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fill your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just… DO.”
One of the hardest lessons a dreamer has to learn is that in order to cultivate the type of life we fictionalize so often, we must match our dreams with action. Otherwise, as Queen Shonda puts it so beautifully, “Dreamers often end up living in the basement of relatives.”
Another hard truth that us dreamers must learn is that by giving in to constant dreaming, we overlook ourselves. Our dreams often circulate around the idea of being someone else or a fantasized version of ourselves. While it’s great to yearn to be the best version of ourselves, dreaming about it is a blockade in our paths of transcending into that person. We dream about someone who is not us, and this is a problem because it means we would rather be someone else other than ourselves.
Shonda describes how she originally dreamt of being a Nobel Prize-winning author like Toni Morrison and how she eventually met a Grey’s-crazed Morrison, saying, “That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.”
So, this is me waving goodbye to my cotton candy clouds of paradise. I am challenging myself to meet my dreams with actions. It won’t be easy; those fluffy clouds have been a great source of comfort through the endless thunder storms that have disrupted my life. It’s comfy. Nothing good is comfy. As my boyfriend so often reminds me, even hell can get comfortable if you stay there long enough.
The best things for us are challenging and unsettling. But it’s rewarding and it fills us with purpose.
It is a lot more filling than those inevitably dissolving cotton candy clouds.