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Pursuing Your Dreams: chasing your passions for your own joy, not for the applause of the crowd

Hello loves!

It has been a (very long) while since I last did one of these, to which all I can say is sorry. Things have been a bit busy since January, but now that things are beginning to slow down again, I decided now is as good a time as any to come back to this.

(And I pinky promise to be more intentional about updating too!)

See, there's something that I've been working on-- a passion project, if you will-- that has been needing my full attention (when I'm not at my actual job obvi). This other, untitled thing has been a dream of mine for ages, and I'm just really excited to finish it! I'm sure some of y'all know what this ominous "Thing" is already, but since it's still being worked on, I'll refrain from details for now.

(And no, it's not anything music or performing-related. I just thought the cover picture was neat)

But through the year and a half I've spent working on it, I've learned a lot. About myself, about the joys and struggles of having side projects outside of a regular 9-to-5, but most importantly about what to focus on while pursuing this dream.

Everyone has dreams. Everyone has that something they associate with their purpose or destiny or happily ever after.

Some people put in the work to achieve this something and some succeed. Others don't.

And some are on their way to succeeding, or "have succeeded", before burning out and/or having their dream blow up in their face.

I'm sure everyone is imagining the cautionary tales we all grew up hearing about. That inventor who let the pressures of needing marketing, financing, etc drown them into giving up before they've begun, or into only making something half as good as what they wanted. The CEOs who forget what their company was founded on and decide the only thing that matters is the bottom line, resulting in the use of dangerous shortcuts and breaking trust with their customers. And of course, the classic one of an artist who strikes it big, only to lose themselves and the heart behind their work in exchange for "fame".

Now the reason I bring this up isn't to be like anyone who is fiscally responsible is a sell-out. We need money to function in society, and we especially need it when we're taking a risk for our dreams. Some people apply for grants and scholarships, others pick up full or part-time jobs, and some save up according to a strict financial plan before taking a year or two off to fully dedicate themselves to their dreams.

Whatever works for you is great and if someday your passion project becomes something you can support yourself off of, then I applaud you! Because that's part of the dream for a lot of people, right? We all at one point fantasized about quitting the day job, moving to the country or city or beach or wherever to do what we actually want to do in life.

To live out the dream that we've wanted for so long.

That's why it can be so confusing to see people who've "made it", who've "made their dreams come true", and goodness they seem so miserable!

And I think, from what I've experienced while pursuing my own passion, is that this happens when people have lost sight of their dream.

It can be a lot of things that make this happen. As a recovering perfectionist, there's the self-imposed pressure of needing it to be perfect before I dare place it in the public eye. There's the moment when a good-intended desire to make your hobby your full-time job turns into you only equating the worth of what you make with how much attention, money, or fame it brings you.

Mostly, though, I think people lose sight of their dreams when the fun and reason for why they're doing it is clouded by the all-consuming fear of failure.

I've talked a lot about failure on this blog, we're old buddies at this point. Like an overly enthusiastic boa constrictor, the fear of failure is a silent, slithering being that can creep up behind us if we aren't keeping an eye out for it. And if we try to pursue our dreams without a solid understanding of why we're doing this in the first place, that snakey fear can easily get the jump on us and strangle us in our path.

All the people I've talked to who are actively working on their dreams, no matter how big or small, usually have rich, complex stories behind them. They view their passion as something great, something that can leave a positive mark on themselves or others, and they believe that what they're doing will still be great regardless of if it has"success as defined by the world".

I've seen this drive in the singer who uses her musical gifts to connect to others through songs of love and loss that leave people knowing they aren't alone. The college-level athlete who spends time on the weekends coaching kids because he knows the value of health and physical strength. The law student who worked hard to get into an Ivy League because they want to use their knowledge and degree to help the less fortunate receive justice. The photographer who finds purpose in showing people how beautiful they are.

I don't think most people would say "Blank is my passion because I'm good at it. I want blank because I want fortune and fame all for myself. Full stop."

And real talk, if that is the only reason you're pursuing something, then try to sort out why that is. Fame is fleeting, strangers knowing your name isn't true community, and money does NOT bring happiness. It's a tool that can be used for good or for bad, but it inherently does not fulfill your life.

Last week, the Bible study my friend and I have been doing talked about generosity. It explained that being generous doesn't just extend to money or wealth-based resources. We can be generous with our time, but also with our talents, and we feel the most fulfilled when we use our passions to fill a need in the world.

That, at the end of the day, is what pursuing a dream should be about. Every single person on the planet is unique and has the ability to use their specially designed talents and gifts to make a positive impact on others.

And when you're focusing on bringing your passion to life because you want to create good, no matter how small the impact, then the fear of failure can't hold you back anymore. You won't fall into the trap of selling out for success while letting the true reason why you started slowly collect dust on the shelf and fade from memory.

Our dreams and talents are given to us so that we can share them, and as long as we do that, we cannot fail.

Love y'all!

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:14-16

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