When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an author when I grew up.
I poured over books as a child, bringing them grocery shopping with my mom, to school, and to every corner of the house. I read when I was walking, when I was supposed to be learning in school, and with a flashlight under the covers in bed.
I’d bring a book with me when we went anywhere, and, while driving home in the darkness of the suburban night, would gobble up the words on the pages as we passed under a streetlight or even the dim, flickering glow of a store sign.
Words were, and still are, my passion.
I believe that words are one of the most powerful forms of currency. We exchange them, sometimes meaninglessly but more often with purchase. What humans say can impact individuals and entire nations. Our words can build somebody up or take them down. Words can be feared, enjoyed, and are often celebrated.
This isn’t about my love of words, however.
This is about the way in which we talk ourselves out of our dreams.
Perhaps inspired by my love of books or my fascination with literature and written communication, my love of reading translated into a love of writing. When I was eight, I wrote a children’s book called Pigs in Peanut Butter, which rhymed completely and was a story about the fair treatment of animals (another passion). I handed it in to my Grade 5 teacher who spoke to my parents about taking the story to a publisher. This was short lived, as my little family moved away.
Middle school made writing dorky, so instead of journaling my frustrations with my clique, my parents or my crushes, I gossiped about them with my friends. Any writing that I did do, I did in secret. I had dozens of short stories saved on my mom’s desktop computer, and dozens more in my head, but I hid my affinity for writing to fit in.
Still, while waiting in a lineup or during “quiet time” at school, I would make up stories in my head and itch to write them down.
As I got older, I still wanted to become an author, but saw a pattern in the way the world viewed creatives. I was urged to go to school, to get a degree in something useful, something that would make me employable, and leave my writing as a hobby.
I stretched myself to leave that small part of who I was aside, to adapt to the demands of society and it’s norms.
Whereas I was an imaginative, creative, and bookish child, I pushed myself to become an analytical, practical, and detail oriented adult; these are skills I was told you needed to excel in a corporate environment. I do have a great deal of skills that come in handy in business, and enjoy flexing them, but I’m most comfortable communicating in some form or another.
Children are impressionable and gullible, but adults are self-sabotaging.
I had a conversation recently with a friend who I’ve known for my entire life: “I remember when you wanted to be an author when you grew up! What happened to that?”
The conversation pushed me to consider what actually did happen to that dream.
I didn’t fall out of love with writing.
I didn’t somehow lose my ability to write.
It wasn’t just a silly childhood notion, like my dream of becoming a mermaid.
What actually happened to my dream of becoming an author was that I talked myself out of it.
Now that I am long removed from the pressures of fitting in and choosing my career path and the potential failure to launch had I chosen wrong, the only thing that is holding me back from doing what I want is my mind.
I’ve convinced myself that I no longer have an interest in writing. I’ve convinced myself that I grew out of my creativity when I grew out of my Sweet Valley High books, and that authoring anything is no way to make a decent living. I’ve told myself that I am too busy with my day job and my side businesses to write anything worthwhile, anyway.
These are all of the excuses that I’ve created in my head, none of which are true or valid, that are preventing me from being something that I’ve always wanted to be:
Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to start writing a book. Not now and perhaps not ever. The world has changed and I’ve adapted to it; there are plenty of ways to be creative besides authoring a novel. Bloggers can be writers too, and freelancers and people who just write for fun.
We our own worst enemy when it comes to reaching goals or realizing dreams or even just being the type of person who sits down and creates something or does something they love every day.
We talk ourselves out of things which, in our heart of hearts, we would still love to be able to do or at least further explore. We are scared or discouraged or out of practice, and without knowing it, we talk ourselves out of these things that were once important to us.
The craziest thing is that we even believe the nonsense our fear and discouragement is feeding us about not wanting to reach the goal anymore.
So think about it – what dreams have you squashed or hobbies have you given up because you feared failing at them? What excuses have you made to feed your discouragement?
What have you talked yourself out of lately?