When I was younger, one of the things I wanted to become was a pro athlete, a sprinter, to be exact. It wasn’t a far-fetched dream either; I was pretty fast. But I got slower, and I got less motivated, and I had other interests. Sooner or later, it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen. My dream of being a sprinter had an expiration date, and expire it did.
I am admittedly one of those painfully hopeful people who believe that you should never give up on something that you really want. I think that far too many people go to the grave with regrets from not pursuing their dreams. It’s not that I believe that pursuing dreams will guarantee that they will come to fruition; I don’t. I simply believe that that giving your dream everything you’ve got is the only way to truly live with yourself.
Of course this idea is met with great cynicism. The messages that we consume often encourage us to quit, to give up; to be “realistic.” And many of us fall prey to these messages because chasing dreams often involves suffering and sacrifice. And suffering and sacrifice are not valued experiences, at least not anymore. We value comfort and we value it a lot. Turn on the television, log into Facebook, go for a walk outside, and all the messages are the same: Be as comfortable as possible.
In our naiveté, we mistake comfort for fulfillment and happiness. And in our effort to be as comfortable as possible, we start chipping away at our dreams. We tell ourselves that once we get enough money or enough experience or meet that right person or move to that right place, then and only then, will we give ourselves the chance. We are always looking for the perfect time to pursue our dreams and tomorrow always seems like the perfect time. Because tomorrow never dies. That is of course, until it does.
Look around you and look inside you. How many people do you think are settling? I will tell you: a hell of a lot of people. People are settling every day into okay relationships and okay jobs and an okay life. And do you know why? Because okay is comfortable. Okay pays the bills and gives a warm bed at night and allows one to go out with co-workers on a Friday evening to enjoy happy hour. But do you know what okay is not? Okay isn’t thrilling, it isn’t passion, it isn’t the reason you get up every day; it isn’t life-changing or unforgettable. Okay is not the reason you go to bed late and wake up early. Okay is not the reason you risk absolutely everything you’ve got just for the smallest chance that something absolutely amazing could happen.
You might not achieve what you set out to achieve when you pursue your dreams; there is a very real likelihood it won’t happen. But don’t you want to give yourself the chance while you can? Because even though you might not want to give up on your dreams, if you put if off long enough, your dreams could give up on you. Because dreams are not perpetual; they are temporary. Like many things in life, they have expiration dates. And when they expire all you might have left is your comfort. But you may find that your comfort will soon start to resemble regret. And as I’m sure you’ve heard before: regret is eternal.