Many of us are raised with the belief that a good education, a cushy salary and an impressive title will bring us happiness. But what happens when they don’t? Today, I’m pleased to bring you an interview with dream chaser and fellow fiction writer, Rebecca Hargreaves. I met Rebecca right here on Beyond the Gray and was incredibly inspired by her views on happiness and the pursuit of her dreams. Read on to hear how Rebecca’s corporate career path led her to the thing she loves most…
Q: Tell us about yourself. What’s your dream and how are you working towards it?
RH: My name is Rebecca and I am a writer and consultant living in Brooklyn, New York. At the most basic level, my dream is to be happy. And for a long time I thought that if I had enough fancy degrees, enough money, and enough titles that happiness would inevitably follow. Can you guess where I am going with this? I was so, SO wrong.
I am still working on figuring out a succinct dream, something easy to share in 10 words or less. I know I want to enjoy work. I want a flexible schedule. I want autonomy. I want to create. I want to serve. And…well the list could go on and on. What this means for me right now is that I am a freelance consultant and writer.
My background is in management consulting and I have worked in firms big and small. There were many aspects of those positions that I LOATHED. But there were also many parts I enjoyed. My goal in working freelance is to retain as many of the elements that I enjoy. To that end, I am working primarily on projects having to do with leadership development and managing change and helping health care organizations and non-profits better serve their communities.
But I also want to write! And that has taken me a long time to admit and own. When I first quit my full time job in late 2008, the plan was to freelance and work on non-fiction projects. Well, guess what? Every time I sat down to write, my brain starting spinning stories instead! Now it is clear that I am a fiction writer and I am doing everything I can to develop that side of myself as well. I am writing a novel, taking writing classes, and getting involved with the writing community. Best of all, I am blogging all about this journey at Diary of a Virgin Novelist.
Q: Describe a gray time in your life. How did it stand between you and your dreams? How did you overcome it?
RH: In the fall of 2009 I really began to question just what the hell am I doing? I faced some personal challenges that took me away from writing. I was feeling very unmotivated and disconnected from my creative side. I didn’t have any consulting projects on the horizon and I was stressed about money. I began to believe that I couldn’t do it. I wanted instant results and here I was, almost a year later, without much to show for it.
So, I began looking for full time work. Long story short – the night came where I had to either accept a lucrative job or turn it down. Oh, how I angsted. Finally, a friend suggested that I imagine the two outcomes: I have accepted the job and I have turned it down. I did this mental exercise and I immediately knew the right thing to do. Imagining taking this new job filled me with anxiety and resentment. Turning the job down however – and recommitting to my dreams of writing and freelance consulting – filled me with excitement.
Q: What fears have you faced as you chase your dreams?
RH: Sorry to punt on this one, but see my answer above. Self-doubt, lack of money, clunky sentences – those are all my dear friends.
Q: What inspires you to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough?
RH: Oh, I am going to be so cheesy here! My family. I am lucky – or cursed, depends on how you look at it – to be surrounded by people who are living their dreams. People who have struggled, tripped, gotten back up, and made it happen anyway. My husband loves his work. Loves it! Same goes for so many others in my life. We have musicians and working artists and architects and teachers and firefighters in our family and seeing how much joy they take in LIVING their dreams, pushes me to keep fighting for my own.
In case you are wondering, yes, I am also blind with jealousy.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone else who is struggling to move beyond the gray and follow a dream, what would it be?
RH: That dreams and passions are not always sharply defined and they do not have to be massive to be meaningful. I used to think that if I were to pursue writing then I would have to win a Pulitzer Prize within a year. I needed to be sure about the HUGE payoffs before I was willing to take any risks. And that is just not reality. Neither is knowing exactly what you want to do and how you are going to do it. The journey I am on – with all its haze and confusion and bends in the roads – is not the one I thought I would be on, but I love it. So just dive in!
To read more about Rebecca’s journey, visit her blog, Diary of a Virgin Novelist.
Are you actively pursuing a dream? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please e-mail me at: Erika (dot) Liodice (at sign) hotmail (dot) com.