Can you remember your dreams for life you had as a child?
Ideas you imagined about how your life would turn out.
Full of achievement, excitement, love, maybe glory and wealth?
A gorgeous house, fun friends, the man or woman of your dreams, happy adoring children, fulfilling job filled with success, travel to fascinating locations?
How's that turned out for you?
Did you achieve, all, some or none of your youthful expectations?
I’m going out on a limb to say the majority of people settle for less than their hopes, dreams and young expectations. They are worn down, worn out and gave up a long time ago. Writing off those childish dreams as unrealistic child’s play.
Hell, I wanted to be a rockstar and rather than tell me what that involved, my school careers advisor laughed and said I should aim for something not quite so glamorous. I should go for a nice safe career, like a job in a bank.
Overtime, my young mind soaked up views and opinions of others. Their views shaped what was realistic and even though it didn’t make me happy I curbed my desire. I sang like a caged canary within the confines of my house, until one neighbour remarked how lovely it was to hear me sing. With that small spark of encouragement I decided to push forward regardless and joined a performing arts course at the local college to pursue my dream.
Your subconscious listens even if you don't
I loved performing, I loved my creative friends but all the while my confidence was being eroded by well-meaning adults, telling me, “it’s not a proper job”, “you’re wasting time and “for goodness sake be realistic!”
Now, freethought can ignore and overcome objections but your subconscious mind, aka the mothermind, is always looking to confirm and ensure your safety.
Especially, if advice is coming from a trusted source.
My mothermind was no exception. She was quietly listening and searching for evidence to shape her own inner guidance. She found this confirmation when I was off busy chasing my dream.
One day, I was performing in front of hundreds of people at a festival.
The sound check in the marquee had gone great. I gave an impromptu performance to a hundred or so people milling around, they all stopped and cheered. I was inspired and it felt incredible. We weren’t due to go back on stage for a few hours and my best friend and keyboard player Julius pulled out a flask and said if we wanted to be real rock stars we should act like them. I took a swig of the neat vodka and as teens did in Britain, in the 90s, proceeded to get totally smashed and have a right laugh.
We are on stage.
I look swimmingly into the sea of people. There are chairs at the front and my adoring grandmother has turned up. She is beaming with pride. At this point I’m pulling off looking sober, but I’m hammered. I was, bless her departed soul, Amy Winehouse hammered. I could tell by the giggles behind me Julius was loving the rock star life and was equally smashed. However, all eyes are on me and a deep survival instinct is kicking in. There is nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. A thousand eyes of scrutiny have me trapped with laser beam focus.
Perform for us.
The show must go on
The guitarist sidles up behind me. In a panicked tone points my gaze to the front of the stage. Where the fuck are the monitor speakers? They were there earlier. These are speakers that point toward the stage allowing the musicians to hear each other. Without them we’ll miss our cues and be out of synch. He talks to the stage manager who tells him the last act needed space and were removed. We’ll just have to make do he says.
The guitarist shrugs, walking past me he says “let’s just do it”. I look at the others, They all look like I am feeling.
I turn to the audience and to a loud rousing cheer introduce the band.
The guitarist starts playing. The music disappears into the marquee, I can’t hear it. ‘Maybe he’ll be able to hear me’ I tell myself, ‘he’s good surely he will save us’!
I wait 8 bars and start to sing, guessing where to start. I can’t hear myself; my mouth is moving I know I am singing but it’s all guess work now. The keyboard player gestures he can’t hear any of us. He keeps playing. I think he’s on a chorus, I’m still on a verse.
I keep singing.
I’m feeling really sick.
I want it to end.
Still two more verses and three choruses to get through.
I catch my grandmother she has the look of a devoted supporter. She was an nurse in the east end of London in World War II. She knows how to keep bravely smiling, no matter how bad things are turning out. I try not to look at her, it crushes me to disappoint her.
I look and see another friend in the front row. Equally amused and horrified, he is loving our tailspin into the song that I’m singing. I truly am going down in a ‘blaze of (not very much) glory’.
The song ends, there is a pause. I can’t tell if I am relieved or the audience is.
They start clapping and cheering.
I walk to the back of the stage and see a crash mat two feet below. I put both hands in the air, shut my eyes and let myself fall dramatically backwards. The crash mat swallows me up along with my need for a big hole to disappear into.
Time to grow up
A little after, I decided the naysayers were right, performing and chasing dreams of fame and fortune were silly.
At 16 years old, I dropped out of performing arts, enrolled in some adult pleasing science, maths and english lit courses and got a waitressing job on the side. My young mind moulded into acceptance that dreams were futile. Although my new courses didn’t fill me with joy, it didn’t matter. After all, who was I to know better than the advice of teachers and role models? So I settled. For the well-worn socially expected route into adulthood. Get qualifications, get a job, get married, be a good wife, get a house, forget your dreams etc. etc.
Sellout and play safe
It was wrong of me.
I took advice from dream sellouts, playing safe and risk averse people.
My mothermind reinforced this by giving me abject terror of performing in public. To keep me safe of course.
I’ve since made desires and dreams come true in the most astonishing ways by following my heart. When my mothermind tells me to ‘turn back now there be dragons that way’. I find ways to soothe her boundaries of safety and increase her trust.
What about unhelpful advice from well meaning others?
Have you ever watched the film Labyrinth? The girl is lost and hopeless. She ask the worm how to get to through the labyrinth. He tells her things are ‘never what they seem’ and shows her the way with a warning, ‘never go that way’. She trusts him and following his advice takes the opposite direction. Afterwards, he says “phew I’m glad she didn’t go that way! That way would have led straight to the castle!”
Straight to where she wanted to go!
Sometimes the best intentioned advice, sends us further away from our dreams. We need to find advisors for how to do things that bring us joy rather than settling for the next best thing advice. Surround yourself with problem solvers and solution givers.
I want you to have faith in your dreams, no matter how old you are or what your circumstances are. I want you to take the straightest path to your castle or whatever your desire is. Remember, what gives you joy is your true path and an element of your true potential and happiness. When you feel that you are not good enough, unfulfilled or an underachiever, you are not any of these. You are merely on the wrong path.
Albert Einstein says it better:
Everyday, remind yourself how brilliant, talented and beautiful you are. It is your thoughts that define your path not your past, not your family, not your job or your circumstances.
Everything you ever wish for is in within your power. Stop looking at that tree and find your ocean to swim in.