I Am a Dreamer. I Am a Warrior.
Nearly two years ago, I set out to chase a dream. Since then, I’ve learned that following a dream isn’t the stuff of romance. It isn’t captured correctly in those many, many beautiful quotes about chasing dreams, those quotes that lift you up and give you warm, fuzzy feelings.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~ Walt Disney
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
“Dreams are the touchstone of our character.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
“Don't limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve.” ~ Mary Kay Ash
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” ~ William Arthur Ward
Don’t trust those quotes. Seriously, don’t. Those quotes are lying bastards. (Sorry, Mr. Disney. I still love ya.) And those warm, fuzzy feelings they generate won’t survive the first real challenge that inevitably collides with any dream. If the warm, fuzzy feelings are the only things fueling a person to chase the dream, it will end at that first conflict with reality. Only if there’s a much deeper driving force can a dreamer remain steadfast.
Even the phrase “chase a dream” doesn’t quite cut it. Sure, sometimes it feels like a chase, like running after something just out of reach, but more often it feels to me like it’s a battle. My dream is an untamed panther. We spend long hours staring into each other’s eyes, each of us willing the other to submit. In one of the panther's eyes, I see my goal. In its other eye, I see my doubts and fears. Whenever I waver, my dream growls and roars, threatening to snap and put an end to our battle. The sounds remind me of why I want to tame it. So I resume my stare. I will not let it win.
For the past half year, I believed that by self-publishing my book, I’d finally be able to feel like I achieved my dream, like I completed it and can put a nice, neat bow on top to say that it’s done. Finally done. Now that I’ve published the book, that's not the case. Publishing just means I can move on to the next phase and keep working to make the dream come true. It’s a hard realization that I’m facing right now. But it’s only the latest in a long line of hard realizations, and it doesn’t even compare with the worst of them.
The most ironic thing is that despite the difficulties, I continue to believe in the power of dreaming more than I ever did before. How that particular belief is sustaining itself and even thriving in my little heart filled with so many doubts, I’m not really sure. Faith, determination, stubbornness — maybe all of those play a part.
The temptation to give up is still there. I could so easily say, “I’m done. I’ve done enough. I’m going to move on now because I’ve done all that I can.” I can’t let myself say those things, though, because none of them are true. I haven’t done nearly enough. I haven’t tried every possibility. I haven’t reached the limit of my capabilities — I can still work harder and keep trying to accomplish more. I thought I was done with the temptation to give up, that I had moved beyond it, but it stares me in the face day after day. I want it to be gone, to disappear, to just poof away. The temptation makes me angry. I want to just punch it in right the face. But temptation doesn't have a face for me to punch. The only way to hurt it is to deny it, to keep trying new things, to push until I reach my limit.
And yet, the questions arise in my mind, “What is my limit? Can I ever reach it?”
The answer echoes back, “You’ll never know unless you keep working.”
So on I chase. On I battle. I will not let my dream be stronger than I am.
I am a dreamer. I am a warrior.