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.
5 Steps On How to Stay a Deadbeat Dreamer If You Don’t Care To Live Your Dreams
Step #1 Research.
Research a lot and then research some more. Keep on gathering piles of information and tidbits concerning your dream. You may think that you have done all the research you need but try collecting magazine articles and bookmarking dozens of websites. Let all of the information overwhelm you enough to keep you sitting on the couch doing nothing. Then take the information that you have and analyze it from every angle and complexity until you are paralyzed. Then you will finally succumb to not doing anything about it at all because you know too much.
Step #2 Don’t do enough research.
Get out there and do as much as you can while you can. This will stop you from actually planning on how you will accomplish your vision. Don’t waste time reading—or praying, for that matter. After all, you know what needs to be done. The AIDS crisis must be solved, now. Global warming is in need of cooling off. The church needs to get her act together. You can go out and make attempts to change these things with lavish passion and enthusiasm and then realize that you don’t know exactly where you are going with your excitement. You will eventually realize that the solution is not as simple as you thought it was and that you could have saved yourself and others a lot of headaches by realizing this sooner. This actually may discourage you so much that, although you started off doing a lot, you may choose to sit out the rest of the game on the sidelines … doing nothing.
Step #3 Let fear grip you and squeeze the life out of any dream you have in your heart.
Think about how many challenges await you concerning your dream. The embarrassment you will feel if it doesn’t come to pass. The discomfort you will experience in the midst of it. The naysayers who will certainly find the path to your doorstep. Don’t ever get close to bravery because that is what it takes to see a dream happen. If you want a deadbeat dream then release all the darkest fears that your mind can conjure and let them swamp you at night as you lay in bed and wonder about the “If only.”
Step #4 Think about the resources you don’t have.
This will most assuredly keep you from ever accomplishing anything. Let the fact that you don’t have money keep you from raising it or earning it. Let the fact that you don’t have the ability keep you from learning it or inviting someone else to do it. Let the fact that you are dreaming this dream by yourself keep you from sharing it with others so that they can join in. And whatever you do, keep your eyes off of the resources you do possess. After all, you do have more than the 1 billion people in the world living on one dollar a day, but it’s still not enough to thrust you into actually doing something.
Step #5 Just stay distracted.
Don’t think about your dream. Let it become one of those things that pops into your mind every now and then, when you’re taking a shower or standing in line at the DMV. Get involved in a lot of meaningless activities. When you go to church, just stay long enough to keep from being inspired. Just let it be a boring pain, like getting dental work. Run around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to stay up to date with the latest trends. Never think that you could actually set trends. Don’t pick up books or read the news—except for the comics and the sports page. Reading anything more might actually cause you to think, and truly thinking may lead to action. So keep your eyes glued to reality TV, and be stimulated by other people who are not doing anything with their lives. Stay up late playing video games and eating Hostess cupcakes. After all, in the absence of pursuing your dream you need some kind of comfort.
If this doesn’t help you become a deadbeat dreamer, there is always the chance that you have been the recipient of the lazy gene. This gene resides in the lazy bone somewhere between the funny bone and the knee bone. If you have the lazy gene, you probably feel you are exerting a lot of energy just by reading this article. If by chance you have gotten this far, your condition is probably not terminal, and you may actually feel indignation with yourself after reading this. You may actually start living your life with a little more courage and intention. If so, you can probably kiss the whole deadbeat dream gig goodbye and go out and make a difference in this world. But this probably isn’t all so bad. After all, the entire world is populated with many deadbeat dreamers, and we probably need more people who are actually going to change the world. –Ramon Mayo
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