To the One Who Told Me to Stop Dreaming (And to Anyone Else Thinking of Quitting)

Updated on February 14, 2018
shanmarie profile image

Shannon is a passionate individual whose feelings and thoughts tend spill onto the pages, often in the form of poetry and sometimes essays.

Source

Cast your dreams

upon these pages,

and reach for the music

that dances within

your soul.

Dream It Anyway

Dreams of the Future or Dream for the Future?

Dreams, I think, are synonymous with hope, and life is largely made of hope. In fact, life thrives on hope, love, and faith. These things inspire other great gifts, such as courage, strength, tenacity, and the ultimate gift of life itself. Somehow, it all comes full circle, doesn't it?

So I sit here wondering, amid all of my insecurities, why can't I have these things? Intellectually, I know I have had them all along. But it doesn't always feel like I do, so I lose sight of them altogether. When that happens, I inevitably hear discouraging voices from my past and I remember my failures until I lose sight of myself too.

But thank God for that circle; it always brings me back around. I eventually shut out the voices long enough to stumble out of the darkness. That's not to say it doesn't take a hell of a lot of effort, though, because sometimes the trip back to the light is more exhausting than dwelling in the dark, but I can't run from myself forever.

Or perhaps that's wrong. Perhaps I can run from myself forever, except the great shame in that is that I would lose myself forever, too. I don't want that to happen, so when I think about who I am now, I vow yet again not to give way to the want that sometimes says I should settle for less than who I am. I am not after riches or fame; those things don't make happiness any more readily available. But I am a dreamer.

I have been a dreamer for as far back as I can remember. For the most part, I am okay with that. Yet there's always someone waiting in the shadows to tell me to stop. Sometimes I briefly comply, except then I feel as though I'm trudging my way through life with no direction, going through the motions, not fully experiencing them.

Strangely, though, it can become way too comfortable inside that shell. Less worry, less stress, and far less fear. Lulled into a false sense of comfort, I consider whether I should heed the warnings of the nay-sayers and accept that all opportunity for greater things has passed me by. But I know that I must keep dreaming. Dreaming is living; it's not walking around with my head up in the clouds waiting for success to fall into my lap.

Success, to me, is something far less tangible than wealth and possessions. It's hope, it's happiness, it's a lifetime of personal growth. It is following a dream and maybe one day achieving that dream, but knowing if I don't, I didn't compromise myself. Success is one day finding I don't have to clear the darkness anymore because the clouds cannot rain long on the parade of a girl at peace with herself. So yes, I have dreams.


Dare to Dream

Do you have a dream?

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The Dream

One personal dream stands out above all others. I dream of making a meaningful difference in the lives others. There are many ways to do that, but writing is a powerful way to touch the heart of someone else. Words are compelling. They help me sort out life and words affirm it. They do the same for readers.

Still, sharing my work more with others is a relatively recent thing. I used to keep it to myself as if it were some sacred part of me I should never show the world and if I exposed it, I did so cautiously to only a trusted few. After all, nakedness is a vulnerability like no other. Writing bares my heart and soul. It leaves intimate things uncovered, sometimes raw, sometimes polished, for critical eyes to judge. Think about what it takes to bring an authentic story to life, though. Like an actor who must draw from his own experiences to portray the exact depth of emotion a character is experiencing or like a singer who must relate to a song, a writer must draw from deep within to keep readers interested. It is total exposure in some form or another.

Reflections on the Past

Switch gears with me a little now, please, as I reflect a little on my past.

At 35, I spent most of my childhood without the internet. I remember when we first had it installed in my home, though, because it was a job benefit my dad received. And I remember waiting impatiently for the dial-up process to finish connecting, only to find it still felt like eons for the pages to load. I learned the hard way that search history and browsing history are tracked when I decided on a whim to see if there really was a website for everything. Let's just say dad was not amused by my choice of self-entertainment. It was one of those not-so-rare moments in youth when wisdom is lacking.

I remember the embarrassment I felt at having to explain my foolish actions. And I remember more pleasant things like making a friend online. There were no email exchanges, but we used chat rooms or AOL messenger to communicate. Letters and photos soon followed via snail mail exchanges so we had a face to a name. Now I can't remember that kid's name with any certainty, but I recall the experience of my first online friend. From there, the internet continued to grow like a wildfire.

By the time I was in college email was commonplace. Sites like Yahoo and Myspace allowed people lacking the knowledge to build their own websites to do it anyway. They also allowed people to create personal public profiles and online journals where people posted daily entries. I experimented with it a little but quickly decided that airing my dirty laundry was not my thing. A diary is private because, well, that's private information. Some things should not be public information. However, things on the internet continue to evolve and more is possible.

Nowadays, the world is literally at my fingertips whenever I pick up a phone. It feels like nothing is private information anymore. Cameras and videos recordings are only a button away. Any public humiliation is likely caught on camera by someone somewhere. Up it goes into cyberland to spread like a virus. Except that unlike a public online journal, no one has much say over what someone else shares about them.

In this world of fast moving social media, I do not like and never will like sharing intimate things about myself. And yet I do it. Here I am doing so right now. Why do I do it? I could write purely informational articles although that is not what I want to do. Those web content articles make a quick buck, but do they really matter? I mean really matter.

Take this instance for example. I share in open honesty because I feel like I have something of greater value to share, if not for others then for myself. Perhaps most importantly for myself since I do have a dream.

No, it's much more than just a dream. It's a burning desire deep within to make a difference somehow.. I want to do something meaningful that touches the lives of others. As I said earlier, there are many ways to do that - but many of those things are beyond my means or beyond my abilities. Writing, however, is something I can do.

Write What You Know

It is common knowledge that people respond to authenticity, something achieved by somehow personally connecting to the message. To do that, I have to be okay with exposing parts of myself no matter whether I write fiction or something like this. It's a fallacy, though, to believe I must be strong and never vulnerable. I don't have to be because that is not genuine. Life is not always rosy, and it is not always portrayed through words of encouragement or inspiration. Sometimes the thing creating the connection is simply being human and sharing the other emotions in life. I live what I write. I believe what I write when I write it. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with drawing from those same experiences to bring fictional characters to life either. Fun and games or pain and anguish. It means I'm alive.

However, even knowing this, I am not comfortable sharing what I write. As sure as I know the reasons I should write, I know the reasons I should not share that part of myself with anyone else. I can list the reasons for the latter, both real and fabricated by my insecurities. Although, sometimes I believe with all my heart I am completely at ease with sharing my thoughts. The comfort lasts until something or someone tries to tear me back down. Then the struggle to rebuild my confidence begins again. My first impulse is to run. I'd love nothing more than to pull my head back inside its shell, like a turtle protecting its soft parts.

When I write, I put my heart on my sleeve like I rarely do in person. Not even my closest friends and family members see this side of me unless they read something I write. But that's the kind of writing that moves me when I read. Therefore, I should share what I have to say. Perhaps it is important to someone besides me.

If not, well then, I still have a record of my humanity. I can see both my failures and successes. I can see the journey. The best part about seeing the journey is that the moments of confidence are recorded as well. The journey is there to remind me that the confidence is there for the taking. It's waiting for the darkness to pass. Just because the darkness obscures the light now and then, that does not mean it will not return. As long as hope is alive, dreams are alive. I am alive.

When I read something I wrote while experiencing something painful, I don't experience the same sense of anguish. Nonetheless, I do recall the events and the emotions I felt. In a sense that is my personal journal. It marks my personal growth and chronicles my memories along the way. Sharing those things may leave me vulnerable to criticism, but sometimes my words resinate within others enough to make them realize we are never the only one who feels a certain way. Individual experiences may be different, but feelings are universal.

On the other hand, when I read something I wrote full of positive affirmations long after I wrote the last word, I do experience those same feelings again. That's the beauty of confidence; over and over again, it can be found. Never again will I allow someone to tell me it's a foolish notion, especially when the discouraging words come from the mouths of those I admire. Those are the people who do the most damage when I allow them to. I don't need anyone trying to douse my flame, let alone the very people who inspire me. I do enough of that on my own. What if it's too expensive? What if I have I loathe self-promotion? What if I make a fool of myself? What if no one cares what I have to say? What if, what if, what if. What ifs are murderous. At least there's always an ember left glowing somewhere down deep inside. Dare I hope that one day that ember will spark a flame bright enough not even I can put it out?

To myself and to anyone else considering giving up, I say keep on dreaming. Even a pipe dream can be full of substance. You are the only one who can decide if your dream is worthwhile, if it should evolve, or if you should discard it altogether. Know this: opportunity only passes you by if you let it. And if you let it, make another one.

To the one who said these things to me should you read this. . . I do not hold grudges. No one is perfect. I said things out of defense and anger, too. Maybe I learned a few lessons that you would not have wanted me to learn, at least not that way. Maybe you don't give a damn one way or another. It doesn't matter what you think about me. Sometimes I don't know who or what to trust anymore. Nor do I feel like I always know what to believe anymore, but I still believe if I once admired someone for something, it was and usually still is worth admiring.

I Believe Most People Are Good

Questions & Answers

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      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Thanks, Faith-Hope-Love. At one time, I wanted to be a teacher precisely because of teachers like that. I have even done some student teaching and loved it. But I was unable to finish my degree and other aspects of the job changed my mind.

      • profile image

        Faith-Hope-Love 

        9 months ago

        shanmarie, I too had a teacher that encouraged us to both write and use our imagination. He was only one among many. Most of my teachers did their best to stop us dreaming. But; and this is a big one, the teacher who encouraged us to dream and to write is the one that I can most readily to mind. Brother Gaetanus I have very Fond memories of. So my advice and my wish for you is to keep on dreaming and advocating for dreamers.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Such a nice thing to say. Thanks, Dora.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Hi, John. I think you are right to say many writers are trying to lose and find themselves simultaneously.

        I don't recall ever being encouraged to dream in school itself, but I did have a teacher who encouraged me to write well into adulthood.

        And I remember making a bumper sticker in school for some project that I wrote "dream big" on.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Thanks, Shyron. You've got a poem for everything. :)

      • CaribTales profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        "Success, to me, is . . . a lifetime of personal growth." I couldn't agree more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You make a difference even by expressing feelings which other people accept as their own but do not have the courage to write. You are fulfilling your dream in each piece you write.

      • faith-hope-love profile image

        John Ward 

        9 months ago from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

        Well done, Shanmarie, every one without exception should have a dream. I have always thought that schools, i.e. good teachers should encourage their pupils to dream, to hold on to their dreams. But this very rarely happens. I disagree with John Green, but Truman Capote and Joss Whedon, both, have got something. Writers come in many shapes and Forms but I think that it would be true to say that they are trying to lose themselves and find themselves at the same time. Thank you. God Bless.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Shannon, I am so glad you are a dreamer

        Without dreamers where would we be

        Lost in a dull and dreary world

        So dream your dreams without fear

        Dream about everything you hold dear

        *

        *

        Blessings my friend

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Oh, A B, I think sometimes I am on a different wavelength than just about everyone even when it's the same. Does that make sense? No? Okay. It does to me. LOL. I can't explain it.

        Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks.

      • abwilliams profile image

        A B Williams 

        9 months ago from Central Florida

        I think that we are on the same, yet uniquely different wavelength.

        Great job shanmarie, I really enjoy your writing.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Space not required, but thanks. This was part of the "healing" process. Just took awhile to vocalize it.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        9 months ago from london

        Big hugs. I leave you your own space to do whatever works for you, in a healing way. Higher blessings. -Manatita

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        I don't know who said that, Val, but thanks for reminding me of that quote. It's surely appropriate here.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        It only took me a month to finally articulate my thoughts in a halfway decent manner, Bill. LOL. And I wasn't sure I would publish it until I did.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Thank you, Mary. Personal is personal. It should only be your decision to share if you choose to.

      • ValKaras profile image

        Vladimir Karas 

        9 months ago from Canada

        Shanmarie---Before we start expressing ourselves it's important where all that sharing is coming from. When we establish an inner personal sovereignty, in the process we have learned to ignore that inner voice which needs others' approvals, others' acceptance, maybe even others' applauses.

        Instead, we allow others to experience our expressions according to their own yardsticks, without trying to appease someone's taste, without worrying about the feedback.

        In other words, we can't be free without allowing others to be free. There are articles that I don't like, but I don't criticize the author---they are free to express what they want and how they want it. Likewise, according to the dragging numbers of my "views", there are many folks who don't particularly like my topics, my style, maybe even that careless and happy grinning on my profile photo. Maybe they would rather see me as miserable---that way maybe we would have something more in common.

        All in all, my dear, you have my wholehearted blessing to dare on dreaming. For, after all, someone said it before me:

        "DREAMS DIE FIRST, THEN WE DIE BECAUSE THEY ARE GONE".

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        9 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Well, we've already talked about this, you and I, but I'm happy you wrote it. I love it when a writer shares his/her heart for all to read. It is real, risky, and honest....well done, my friend.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Hi, Threekeys. I don't pretend to think my way is the best or the only way. I don't always know if it's the decisions I make are best for me. I couldn't begin to expect everyone else to blindly follow me.

        But even you affect those around you. A smile can encourage or make someone else's day a little brighter. A grumpy attitude can make those around you grumpy in your presence. You never know when something you say may matter past the moment.

        Not just in writing. When I was in college I often invited someone to a worship and prayer group I was a part of. She always declined, without fail. I didn't think much of it until I got a call out of the blue over summer break. She'd left the school because it wasn't a good fit for her, but she wanted to let me know something. Every time I invited her to be in a room full of people focused on God she was ashamed of something she had done. However, it was also a reminder that God was calling to her. So this phone call explained what was going on to me. She also told me about a dream she had in which God showed her about forgiveness. She realized she was forgiven and that she also had to forgive herself. She thanked me for my invitations because they didn't let her forget. I don't know if this makes sense, but it was nice to know that I had a positive impact in some small way without even knowing it.

        So if things like that can happen in everyday life, I may never know when it happens in writing. Except for when people tell me. But either way, as I said in this article, I can look back later and motivate myself when I need a confidence.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        9 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        I can relate to this. My personal writing, I keep to myself. It is my avenue for expression. However, once in a while I put out a glimpse of my world. Yes, we are full of "what ifs..." but we have the capacity to take it on. Keep on. Your writing is great.

      • profile image

        Threekeys 

        9 months ago

        I,too, need to push the "what ifs" to the back of my mind,too.

        American culture and Australian cukture are different Ive gathered. Because we are English speaking countries we still place nuances on different things which leads to misunderstandings.

        Australians lack the healthy esteem that Americans have of themselves; and I wish Australians werent like that.

        Good on you for expressing yourself openly. I admire that of you.

        But I dont know how you can be confident in affecting others. That is totally out of your hands, my hands and other's hands.

        No one likes being forced to take another's approach or way of life. Who can really say, this is the way?". There are about 8 billion people and I bet 8 billion people can offer you a way to be just like you can offer a way to be.

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