If your dreams grow from a flutter in your chest, rather than your head, then this one is for you.
Yes, I’m talking to you, you little idea machine. I know your wheels are always turning. I see your piles of notebooks and underlined stories with notes in the margin. I see the trail of scraps and notes and one-day big ideas. I know that sometimes you can’t sleep because the dreams feel too big for closed eyes.
It happens a lot—the dreaming. You see something that catches your breath. The wind blows just right and song touches you in a place you didn’t know existed and all of a sudden, your heart’s fluttering. You get excited. Nervous. Excited again. Scared that maybe it’s not worth it to throw your heart into another dream. But then, against your better judgement and the well-meaning cautioners who’ve weathered your storms, you’re leaping. You’re putting your heart on the line and you’re dreaming. You’re making something beautiful.
Then you push publish. It hurts to breathe so you don’t for a few minutes at a time. Your thumb hovers over the delete button and you toggle back and forth between ‘refresh’ and ‘close’. You’re paralyzed and sick and feeling all-of-a-sudden downtrodden because you love this thing and you want everyone to love it too. And you’ve put so much heart into it, and it seems like if they don’t love what you’ve done, in a way they also don’t love you.
You’re afraid that they won’t love you.
But that’s where we need to pause, big dreamer. Because guess what? Your passions might make you fiery. Your gift may be the reason you’re so funny or well-dressed or even understanding and compassionate. But I can promise you this: even without the art, you are loveable.
Even if the dream doesn’t pan out. Even if no one ever claps or likes or says your work changed their world, you are worthy of love.
And you deserve to do what you love without fear of love lost.
You deserve to do it for you.
It’s not a finished canvas that makes someone love you. It’s not notes on a staff or words on a page or leaps in the air; it’s not awards kept high on the shelf. So dream the dreams and pursue them. Do the things because they fill you up. Do them whether anyone admires them or not.
Keep writing and singing and playing and running and listening and rhyming and painting and dreaming—whether or not anyone ever stands up and cheers.
As creatives, we can often be found with our hearts in our hands. We throw ourselves deep into the work because on some level, we’re hoping that this time will be the game-changer. We’re hoping to have found the missing piece—the thing that means we will finally be understood. We’re praying that this will be the time we are seen.
And that’s a big ask.
So we doubt. We say we’re not that good or not that talented, that someone else could do it better. And then we search for new dreams under every stone because maybe it is there that we’ll find the thing that makes us known. Maybe that’s where we find the art that says we are good enough. Maybe it’s now that we find the art that equals love.
And it in keeping our hearts always at the ready for approval, we get ourselves into big trouble. Because it’s not the job of the dream or the art or even the audience to give us love. That responsibility is ours alone. We owe it to ourselves not to make a dream so big that we worry we won’t be loved without it. Because we absolutely will.
You’re not a failure if your art doesn’t garner nods. You’re not a loser if you change your mind. There’s no love lost in saying your work is fantastic. There’s no love won in saying your work is crap. Because you, my dear, are not your dream. No season of drought or fear of dreaming changes the person you are. None of the work you produce makes you more or less worthy. Nothing you do or don’t share gives or takes the love you deserve.
I get it. Dreams can feel the biggest. They can feel like the most important thing in the world and like our every happiness hinges on them being successful and well-received. But don’t forget: you are bigger than any big dream. You are capable and smart and fiery. And you are great whether the dreams work or whether they don’t. So let them grow. Nurture those dreams and throw your heart into the ring. And don’t, not for one second, believe that you won’t be just as OK if things don’t go according to plan.