They said it couldn’t be done. A dreamer who is yet practical, logical, and focused. A creative thinker who can also analyze, be realistic, and lead. How unlikely is it that one with her head so far in the clouds all the time could also be a firm pillar to society and even help balance the order of things? Can this truly be the case?
Why are there so many dreams that die and never see the light of day? In a land where “anything is possible,” why are so many struggling to keep their dreams alive, the daily grind and details of living keeping them too busy to feed their dream? What does it take to achieve your dreams and keep living in the meantime?
I’ve always been what some would call “a dreamer,” full of idealistic expectations of the world and especially of my own shaky life here on planet earth. I mean, really, how much can be expected of a goody two-shoes, chubby little black church girl from the south side of a Podunk town called New Castle, Pennsylvania?
My dreams certainly came in chunks, with each step of the way being a struggle, to say the least. From my perspective, I was doing pretty well at dreaming big—and accomplishing big—by attaining two degrees, a minor and a certificate in 4 years of undergraduate work, all while being highly involved in non-academic endeavors. And I really thought it was a nice cherry on top to have earned an MA degree by the age of 24.
But it wasn’t until I found myself direction-less at this point that I ever considered the idea of myself as a “deadbeat” dreamer. You know the term, right? It is often heard used in conjunction with a father who is not quite living up to his end of the parenting bargain – a “deadbeat dad” is how it is phrased.
You see, when I attained this final academic degree, the voices in my head started yelling out. No, not the crazy voices in my head, but instead the skeptical voices, asking me how I could justify “wasting” my hard-won achievements on unrealistic dreams of an idealistic and probably unrealistic future. Wasted achievements? Idealistic and unrealistic future? Wow. Strong and crushing words to my little head that was so full of ideas and plans to live out a better future than just an expected pattern of climbing some imaginary ladder to acceptable success after graduation.
I’ve always been what some would call “a dreamer,” full of idealistic expectations of the world and especially of my own shaky life here on planet earth.
Typically, I have heard the word “dreamer” used with a subtle hint of negative tone. However, with the addition of the word “deadbeat” to the word “dreamer,” we have finally come all-out in declaring that we do not believe in those who dream. They are in fact considered “deadbeats,” or those not living up to the standards of their responsibilities. In short, they are stagnant, unmoving, stuck. What a waste we consider those who appear to be floating around in the cloud of “not there yet.”
But maybe it’s not the dreamer who is the deadbeat after all. Maybe, just maybe our criticisms should be addressed to the “skeptical, realistic critic.”
What stands in the way of a dream? What causes a dreamer to cease to dream? I have surprised myself with my own productivity in times when I have X’ed out the negative voices about my amazing, yet hard to believe dreams. If my gift is to dream, what better to spoil that gift than one who has little to offer my dream but some grueling “reality” about why it cannot and will not happen? My goodness, it’s a tough crowd of skeptics out there, as you’re reminded every night you lay your little dreamer head down on your pillow. Learn to shut it out. Let the fire of your dream rush you on toward your goal.
To the dreamers out there, I say the following: Dream a dream, say a prayer, do the work and see it all happen right before your eyes. You will amaze yourself at how much your dream can impact your life and the lives of those around you when you stay true to it. Don’t sell out to the critics. Give them no power over your dreams; after all, skeptics are a dime a dozen, but dreams are once in a lifetime. Fretting over what to do with those ever-so-present skeptical voices ringing through your head? No worries. Pursue your dreams with passion, and before you know it you won’t even recognize those old voices. Instead, you’ll be bombarded by the soft, sweet sounds of the adoring fans your dream has accumulated along the long road to success.
To the skeptics who love to live in the heads of those dreamers, I say this: Please get out of our heads! You really don’t belong there. There is a better place for you to thrive, and you’ll be happier when you’re out of our heads, too. Trust me, quietly is the best way to support us, and if you take this approach, we promise to give back the favor by sharing our innovation and creativity with you when you most need it. “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of [yourselves] more highly than [you] ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:3, 12-13, ESV).
The Lord calls us to serve each other in ways of encouragement, so let’s check any skepticism at the door. I know I plan to encourage and be encouraged the best I can. Maybe others will, too, and I will no longer be—just a dreamer.