Dream big. Side bar: gratitude

There are so many reasons why I’m lucky and grateful. Today’s post centers around having rarely (rarely) been terrified. I was scared when thinking about friends travelling abroad or serving in X, Y, Z branches of the military. Yes, I was terrified when in the car accident  with my mom and sister, but anything I’ve been terrified or scared about had more to do with the people I found myself in these situations with rather than any real terror for myself.

Then a couple weeks ago I submitted my writing hoping to be selected for a writing residency. Then I got an email from someone I know asking if I wanted to have a piece I’d written included in an anthology. A published anthology. An anthology that will be printed as well as an e-book. This would fulfill my wish to someday be a published author, to have my name on a book binding (or at least in the table of contents). And that? That’s flipping terrifying. It’s not the act of writing 1,000 words or so – that ship has already sailed – but it’s the thought of having a dream come true. Why is success so frightening?

Especially to my generation and those after where we grew up being told to, “Shoot for the moon because even if [we] miss [we’ll] land among the stars.” (Earliest attribution is to Norman Vincent Peale). My writing about it in this forum isn’t to discount how important that quote is for all of us to think about. My writing about it in this forum is for me to remember how important this quote is for me to think about.

That doesn’t mean dreaming isn’t going to cease to be terrifying. We’re all brought up thinking/being told that dreams are this big romantic-al thing. If we dream big enough we’ll attain it. But then we don’t. A, B, C happens and throws us off whatever hunt we had been on and then we all end up feeling like these huge failures. We couldn’t achieve this dream we had been in furious pursuit of and we turn to booze, pills, knives – whatever our instrument of self-harm is.

This isn’t to say I’m going to cease telling my nieces and nephews to shoot as far as they want to in their dreams. Keeping dreams reined in isn’t what got us the Theory of Relativity, space travel, or the car. Those people thought HUGE. They weren’t scared to go forth with naught but a dream and an idea. What’s missing though is the tale of just how terrifying doing so is.

Today I’m going to start my day being thankful for the friends and family who have never not told me to do it (whatever it is). I’m going to start my day trying to be thankful I’m alive. I’m going to be thankful that, even though I want to SO BADLY, I haven’t picked up a drink in over a year, I haven’t picked up a knife in nearly a month. I’m going to stick with gratitude. If I focus on woe is me, if I focus on the what ifs, I’ll drown. Figuratively and metaphorically.

I’ll no longer be able to celebrate my nieces and nephews if I do that.

They’re the ones I psychically cling to.


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