1. You don’t think you deserve what you say you want.
“Deserve” is a funny concept. (There’s a wonderful quote from Zadie Smith’s White Teeth that talks about whether or not people deserve the love they think they want.) You could make a million cases for whether or not any one person deserves any one thing, and while there are laws that bolster some of these things, most of the time, it’s a matter of perspective. But if you don’t believe in yourself — which is to say, if you don’t honestly think you are worthy of whatever dream you harbor deep inside you — why would you ever earn it? Prove to the world that you deserve something, and that you’re willing to work harder than anyone else has ever worked for it, and chances are good you’ll wind up with it. You just can’t make yourself work half that hard if you’re questioning your worth every step of the way.
2. You let people dissuade you because what you want is not what they want.
A lot of life is about compromise. You have to live with other people, you have their goals to consider and work around — especially if it’s someone you love and share a life with — and if your dream life involves something that uproots more than your own world, then you’re going to have to make sure other people are okay with it. But if you think you want to be a doctor because your parents want you to be a doctor (and not because you actually, y’know, want to be a doctor) getting that diploma is going to be a whole lot harder than if your desire was genuine. It might be tough to break it to your parents that you want to do something completely illogical, but if you’re aware of the obstacles in your way and if you really want to devote your time to overcoming them, you never know where you’ll end up.
3. You think it’ll be taken away from you, so why bother?
Yeah, yeah, it’s better to have loved and lost to have never loved at all. You get it. And really, we’d like to think that we hold true to this, but so often, we let that possible loss terrify us into inaction. That someone might eventually break up with you or break your heart, so don’t bother giving it to them in the first place. That you might be awful at your dream job, so you never apply. That you’ll fail at living in your new city, and will have to move home with your parents, so you never move out to begin with. And sure, sometimes you will fail at first. That’s just a part of life. But risking in the first place is a part of life, too. That’s how we grow. That’s how we learn. And if, in the future, something is taken away from you, that’s fine. You’re only given something for as long as you’re meant to experience it, so then you can move onto another path and apply what you’ve learned.
4. You have all these ideas… but you’ll get to them tomorrow.
Or Saturday. When it’s sunny and raining but not windy and you have enough money or a friend who will help you or you lost ten pounds or… or what? Whether we stall because we’re procrastinators, or because we’re afraid or psyche ourselves out, it doesn’t natter. Nobody’s going to hand you an opportunity just because they sense that you think you have a few ideas as to what it takes. You have to actually go out there and do something. (Whether or not you fail. So what? Try again.)
5. You take “no” as the final word.
“No” is, in all honesty, one of the most helpful words in the English language. I love “no.” (I mean, within reason; there are times when you should absolutely listen to when someone tells you “no,” but let’s not get into political stuff here.) So you got turned down from something you really wanted. That’s fine. It just tells you that this isn’t the avenue you should pursue at this present point in time. Either figure out a different game plan (because there are always a million different ways to get the same result), or take a step back for a little bit and try again later.