You know you’ve found your dream when it doesn’t let you sleep. And when it does, it is the first thing you think of when you wake. I had such a dream once — over twenty years ago. Then, I was going through a rough time struggling with depression, fighting with myself to understand my place in the world. I was disconnected and lacking purpose. Then I discovered writing. I wrote stories. The words were like tiny bridges that reconnected me with the world. I had a desire to publish them. People would read them and love them; the connection would be sealed, things once broken would be fixed again — that I would regain place, purpose, and happiness.
But it didn’t happen. I wasn’t ready to release my thoughts into the wild. Depression had killed my self-esteem, I didn’t think I was very good (and I probably wasn’t, but that’s besides the point). All that would come of it would be rejection, I convinced myself, and who needs that in their life? In short, I was afraid. So I gave up. I burned the words, and lost my connection.
I buried the dream, walked away, and finally settled into an uncreative, unfulfilling, although well-paying career in the IT industry for the next two decades.
It was nice for a while. It felt safe. I could sleep. It removed me from that scary ultimatum: kick, scream, and fight for your dream, or languish in defeat — I chose the latter. But my happiness was just an illusion, that of a defeated man who celebrates the absence of struggle — without realising it is the struggle that keeps him alive.
But then the dream called to me again from deep beneath the lost, forgotten fields where I had buried it. I had no choice but to dig it up. I started to write again and awoke as if I had been sleepwalking for twenty years. And now I’ve committed myself fully to ressurect my dream of becoming a published writer — a dream I’ve kept locked up like ageing wine in the cellars of my mind, of which I’m ready to sip from again. I’ve quit the IT industry. I’m back at university studying English Literature and Creative Writing because it’s all I ever wanted to do. I’m still scared, still full of doubt. Fear of failure still clouds my blue skies most days. But none of that matters, because this is my dream and I will hold it, shelter and nurture it, and apologise for abandoning it. Somehow, I will make it work.
So, if something thrills so much it stops you sleeping, if it scares you shitless that you feel like you’re walking a razor’s edge, don’t run away from it, because you may have found your dream. Keep walking — you may not get another chance. Yes it will be hard, it will make you cry and scream, but you will also laugh and sing; bleed for it, plead for it, need it, feed it, live it, breathe it; dry the tears, cry, scream, laugh, and sing again; trust yourself, let yourself go, swallow the pain, banish the vanity, plummet and fall, crawl back up, and keep doing it, again and again and again. Because you know as well as anyone, it’s the only path you want to follow. Do you want to reach the end only realise you followed the wrong one? I don’t.