Here’s a question for ya: Have you ever given up on a dream because you thought it was too late?
I definitely have and I’d take a good bet that the majority of people reading this have, too.
When we reach certain milestones in our lives, or we spend too long encapsulated in an existentialist silence, we begin to question our decisions.
We ponder on dreams and goals and how many we haven’t achieved. We judge ourselves when we change direction and do a total U-Turn on everything we planned. We get angry when, in fact, we have no dreams and we scream at the mirror when we have many dreams, but feel it is too late to achieve them.
But in all this thinking and self-deprecation, and in our education growing up, we always fail to understand one crucial point:
It is not about the time or the content or even how consistent the dream is that matters. It is just the fact that we are dreaming that is important.
Life is a complicated thing often, and so to make sure we do not fall into the trap of restricting our futures and abilities, it is essential that we never stop dreaming. And by dreaming, I mean looking to the future and seeing anything we want to happen. I mean envisioning the life we want to become a reality.
Dreaming is actually less about what’s not currently real, and more about believing that there is nothing that cannot be real.
It is being able to look at your present situation and see its benefits and be totally happy, but also to imagine how you want the future to look.
There is no time restriction on this.
There are no real rules around what the content should look like.
You can be 75 and still have the same life you’re living because that is your dream already.
You can dream of being married with a kid, and a 9-5 job and not achieve it until your 43 or 64.
You can dream about being an influential leader that reaches the height of power and change and no-one has the right to tell you that it’s too ambitious.
How ‘ambitious’ it is doesn’t matter.
How ‘realistic’ it feels doesn’t matter.
When you achieve it doesn’t matter.
Changing your mind 10 years down the line doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you understand that you are allowed to dream and that ‘reality’ is a flimsy thing and you have the ability to define it in your own words.
Ah, yeah. There’s another question: How do I dream?
It might seem a little silly because dreaming is just natural for some like its namesake. But just like the dreams we have at night, not everyone naturally has them.
So what do you do when everyone around you is talking about their dreams and their goals for the future and you can’t think of one?
Well, there are 2 things:
1. Realize that having a goal or having a dream is great, but as I said earlier, the timing doesn’t matter. Just as it doesn’t matter when you get round to achieving the dream you do have, it really doesn’t matter when you realize you have a dream.
After all, a dream that you force into existence because of social pressure is not a dream. You’re just Troy Bolton pretending you want to be a basketball star when really you want to whip out the dance shoes, warm-up that voice and get on that stage.
2. It’s important to realize that a dream – like many socially misunderstood terms – is just another concept. So lets quickly turn to our correspondent on the ground (Google search) for a typical definition of the word.
“A cherished aspiration, ambition or ideal”
“Indulge in daydreams or fantasies about something greatly desired”
I mean within those definitions you could then ask the definition of ‘aspiration’, ‘ambition’, ‘ideal’, ‘daydream’, ‘fantasy’ and ‘desire’ but then you’d just be going down an endless rabbit hole, so please don’t. What you should actually do is quickly pick out the most significant part: the vagueness.
There are no boundaries or limits – so long as you don’t use it to make someone else feel bad.
In fact, the example that was used for the verb was just a trip to America. If you don’t already live in America, that could be one of your dreams, or even the only one. Heck, if you live in Missouri, your dream could be to just visit the Mark Twain National Forest. Or if you’re like me and you live in London, your dream could be to visit St James’ Park (it’s beautiful) and no-one could judge you.
The point is your dream is whatever you naturally desire. It can be as small as visiting a landmark in your city to as big as being the President or the Prime Minister of your country.
Dreaming is something that keeps us curious. It keeps us asking questions and keeps us pushing for what we deserve.
It doesn’t matter what that looks like, how we achieve it or when we achieve it. Sometimes economic situations, personal afflictions or political systems affect the path we take and the time it takes. But having dreams gives us the chance to believe in more and to open the door to further dreams that we had never realized we wanted in life.
At your pace, by your definition, and on your terms: dream and believe in what you deserve.