For those of us who are pursuing a creative dream, there are no road maps, no manuals, and no guarantees for how or when our dreams will happen. It is probably for the best that we don’t know just how hard it’s going to be beforehand because otherwise, we might not take the leap.
When you leave the safety net of conventionality to pursue your dreams and you take a job as a waitress, or a barista, or some other job that allows you to pay your rent and still have the flexibility to work on your projects, I can promise you that your journey will be met with some unavoidable feelings of regret, insecurity, comparison, and a fear of being stuck forever in a job you hate, as you watch your dreams drift further into the realm of impossibility. People will question your plan. You will probably doubt your own plan.
But in these moments, when the doubt rises up around you and starts to choke out the hope you have, please stand your ground. When you come home after a long shift at the restaurant and look in the mirror, barely recognizing your own drained, sleep-deprived face, the feelings of doubt in your perfect plan might start to creep into your mind.
When you look in the mirror and see that your hair needs a cut and your jeans are ripping in untrendy places, and your teeth could use bit of whitening, it is easier to feel like you are failing than to believe in your dreams.
But in these moments, when it is easier to run back to the corporate job you left so that you could follow your dreams, I dare you to remind yourself that you are created for a unique, uncommon greatness and that is precisely why you took this risk.
Remind yourself that your projects need to be done by you and your dreams need to become reality because that is your responsibility to this world. Your ideas are not a waste of time, but not putting them into action would be.
Before the paychecks come and people start to recognize you on the street, start imagining that they will. Before you get jobs for the work you love to do, you have to start doing the work. Sometimes it is necessary to have a Field of Dreams moment with yourself. Excuse the cheesy metaphor, but the movie holds a relevant point. Just like its famous quote, “If you build it, they will come,” think of your career this way. If you write the song, then the radio station can play it. If you write the book, then the bookstore can shelve it. If you practice your craft, you will have work to show and then the paycheck will be possible.
Whenever you feel like you are wasting time working on your craft because the paycheck is not secured, remember that without doing the work, you won’t have the option of getting paid for it. So work whatever job pays your rent in the meantime, and be proud of yourself for being willing to forsake your title and status for your passion. Stand tall and remember that what you are doing is worthwhile, even if it takes a long while.
If you take a risk to follow a dream, you’re likely to come up against some doubts and delays, but take courage because you are the kind of person who makes it into the history books.
Use every delay as an opportunity to reboot your confidence, refill your hope, and to remind yourself that you are doing the right thing for your life. Crowd out the doubts with thoughts and words that build you up and give you confidence. Even if you have to force positivity down your own throat, do it. Force feed your dreams when necessary.
You must remember in these moments of vulnerability, comparison, and self-consciousness that you share the same DNA of the people history books are written about. You were willing to put your hope in the possibility of your dreams coming true. And you must remember that your work sets you apart and someday, if you stay focused and work diligently, one of your pieces of work will be noticed. One day, your book will help someone. One day, your song will inspire someone. One day, your story will give someone hope.
So in the meantime, choose to believe that there will come a day when you look around at your life and your clothes are clean and new, your teeth are white, your bills are paid, and you even have money to go out for dinner.
But until then, it is crucial that you remain proud of yourself. Your work will improve if you keep your spirits up. Remind yourself that you are doing what most people are unwilling to do. You are putting in the work now for a paycheck that might not come for years, but when it does, the payoff will overcome the heartache.
Stay focused on the important things. Don’t look to your left or your right. Maintain your good posture and look ahead toward your dreams and your hopes. This is what happens before your dreams come true.