There’s something slightly cringe-inducing about the phase ‘my dreams’. It’s one that will instinctively produce a dismissive shrug from me. A more common phrase, one with less associations with Disney is, ‘Well, what do you really want to do?’ Although less sickening, they boil down to the same thing. They are a chance to really push the boat out, to say something really impractical. Like, I don’t know, I want to be a poet.
I was in a bar with some friends fairly recently and while at the bar alone, the barman struck up a conversation. Quite understandably bored, he didn’t make eye contact through most of the exchange. He eventually asked me in a voice tinged with humour: ‘So, what’s your dream?’
In a slight panic, I began to construct one of my usual generalisations. I would normally have told him that I wanted to do something that involved creativity and writing, but I wasn’t good enough for that, so any job would do.
Yet, in a sudden strange turn I didn’t say any of this usual rubbish. I said, without flinching: ‘I want to be a poet.’
He actually stopped what he was doing to stare at me in surprise.
In another out of character moment, I decided to leave it at that. His wide-eyed expression would normally have led me into a fit of disjointed self-deprecation:
‘Of course, I’m not very good.’
‘I’ve never been published.’
‘It won’t ever happen.’
What difference was it to the barman whether I told him honestly what my dreams were? Nothing of course, he was serving someone else in the next five minutes, but to me it was a huge leap.
I have written poetry since I was a teenager. It has become my method of dealing with everything around me. It is mostly a hobby. A lack of self-confidence has only ever led me to half-hearted attempts to get my poetry noticed, or even published.
To be perfectly honest, I’m still not of the opinion that my poetry is very good. I’m learning that that is okay too.
It’s hard to cast value judgements on creative work if that work never reaches other people.
If I’m not honest about writing poetry, readers will never get the chance to tell me what value it holds. Here we return to being honest about our dreams.
What do we have to lose by really trying to be the thing we want to be?
Humiliation if we fail? Well, as Wayne Gretzky said:
People may sneer at me for wanting to become something that so many other talented individuals, worthy poets, have failed to be. That’s okay. There is truth in their scepticism, but there is also no shame in trying.
I’m trying to avoid the pressure that I need to fulfil my dreams right now, as if I’m not allowed to state my dreams unless I’m close to achieving them.
These dreams are only doomed to failure if I keep them as something I’m partially ashamed of. I think being brave about stating our dreams is the first step to possibly achieving them.
That’s why I’m now not afraid to tell you all: I write poetry, and someday I might get it published.
If you enjoyed this post, why not check out ‘Living in the Clouds: What Dreams Give Us’?