In Follow Your Dreams

In the recent HuffPo article “Overrated: Following Your Dreams”Christine Egan writes that the key to a contented existence is to NOT follow your dreams and that doing so “will only lead to wasted years and immeasurable heartache.” 

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that. I’m not saying it’s wrong – or right – I’m just…intrigued.

Obviously, there’s a big “follow your dreams” theme here on Beyond the Gray, and it just so happens that Egan’s take on the matter differs from mine. That said, it doesn’t mean the notion isn’t worth considering.

When I first read this article, which says things like – “You will never be President of the United States. However, you can email his office to request a tour of his nice white house. You will never be Tina Fey, either — but you can audition for as many community theater productions as you like.” – I thought it was incredibly cynical and dismissed it. After all, if Tina Fey had believed that she would never be Tina Fey…well, I can’t bear to think about life without 30 Rock and all those Sarah Palin skits. But then I retrieved the article from Deleted Items and read it again. This time I thought about my writing dream and suddenly the whole “wasted years and immeasurable heartache” bit began to resonate a little. 

I have invested (I won’t say “wasted”) years working towards my writing dream and have seen relatively minimal results…so far. The rejection I’ve faced along the way has caused heartache, sure, but for me, it’s that heartache that makes me want to become a better writer. And it’s those few results that have shown me that I have – at some level – what it takes to do this…IF I’m willing to continue learning, growing and investing the time. Maybe it’s my never-take-no-for-an-answer attitude (which I was repeatedly told throughout my childhood that I have, although, based on the edge of frustration it was said with, wasn’t necessarily meant as a good thing) but to me, the time invested and the heartache, is all part of the challenge…and the fun. For me, a contented existence doesn’t come from giving in to the path of least resistance, it comes from challenging myself to do things I never thought possible and surprising myself when I do.

I do agree with Egan about managing our expectations and not approaching our dreams under the delusion that we’re going to be the next J.K. Rowling or Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey. But I don’t think there’s anything “dangerous” about dreaming big. Considering their backgrounds, Rowling, Gates and Winfrey should have never in a million years believed that they would amount to much of anything, but that’s the inspiring thing about chasing dreams…you never know where they might take you.

What do you think? Is following your dreams really overrated?

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  • Suzanne

    I clicked over and read Ms. Egan’s article….and my dream is to never become as jaded and bitter as someone who would write such an article. Imagine if J.K. Rowling had read this article and taken it to heart while she was an unemployed single mother living off the gov’t dole…. we’d never have the Harry Potter series.

    Yes, like you, I have experienced heartbreaking rejection from my attempts to become a writer….and yet, every morning when I write my one page a day in my novel in progress, it is the best part of my day. And whether or not I am ever published, I will always treasure the heart I gave to pursuing my dream.

    Ms. Egan’s article flies in the face of many great achievements that have come after years of countless failures (President Lincoln)…..thank God, many people will reject her way of thinking and simply go on pursuing their dreams. I know I will.

    • Erika Liodice

      I couldn’t agree more, Suzanne. I absolutely treasure my writing time…even if it does result in rejection more often than not. And what’s the harm of dreaming of my own book being on a Bestseller list one day? Someone’s books have got to be on it…why can’t one of them be mine?

      Dream on, girlfriend!

  • Suzanne

    After all, there was no JK Rowling, until a woman named JK Rowling decided to simply write a book….

    Can you tell Ms. Egan’s article got me riled up! I may have to continue my rant over at my own blog…sheesh, I hate naysayers….what’s so ironic is that Ms. Egan is an entrepreneur and founder of a lifestyle web business called ‘blisstree’ perhaps it should be called ‘bitterfruit’.

    Okay, I’ll stop now.

  • AY

    I think following your dreams in our age of instant celebrity distracts people from truly immersing themselves without seeking outside approval. If no one knew that you were living your dream would it still feel just as meaningful? If there were no facebook, twitter, blog, digital photos or camera to document the dream revolution does it still exist?

    I think you can follow your dreams and should, however, I think that our generation confuses celebrity and fame with personal deep purpose.

    • Erika Liodice

      Interesting point, AY. Reminds me of that philosphical question: if a tree falls in a forest but no one is around to hear it, did it really make a noise?


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