|Photo by Bethany Szentesi.
"I understand why people don't follow their dreams. It's so uncomfortable."
A friend of mine said this while we were talking about a big step she's taking in following one of her dreams. She is right in the worst part of going for it: right when it's about to become real and she just has to take a few more steps to push herself over the edge.
I get it. Publishing my book was a deeply uncomfortable process. I felt like all my insides were going to smash themselves into smithereens at many times in the process, and it was always when I was taking concrete steps towards making it real.
It was fine to dream about it. It was fine to research it and plan for how I would do it. It was even fine to do the background work with an editor or a publicist.
It was NOT fine to reach out to friends who were writers and ask them to recommend an editor. It was NOT fine to announce that it was going to happen and ask people to sign up for my mailing list. It was NOT fine to wake up on the day of my book launch party and know I was going to have to go stand in front of a bunch of people and read out loud from my book and answer questions and live in the physical reality of what I had just done.
None of that was fine. It was exhilarating and meaningful and overflowing with joy and also terrifying and shame-generating and, weirdly, a little annoying, and that combination of feelings was DEEPLY uncomfortable.
The more important a dream is to you, the deeper inside of you it sits, the more it's yours (as opposed to a team effort that diffuses your responsibility), the more uncomfortable it's going to feel to make it real.
This is the price of making your dreams come true. For many, it's too much to bear.
Or rather, much of the time, it's too much to bear.
I don't know that the world is divided into those who follow their dreams and those who don't. I think that most of us follow some of our dreams while we let others fade.
Maybe we can only handle so much of this discomfort in our lifetimes.
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