This is crazy. I shouldn’t be doing this. There’s no way this is going to work.
These were the thoughts flowing through my mind as I hit Send on the computer, my manuscript heading to yet another publisher for review.
Since I was a little girl, seeing my name on the front cover of a book was one of my dreams—one of my wildest dreams. I sort of likened it to wanting to be a princess or hitting the lottery. It was one of those things I dreamed about frequently, but didn’t think would happen for me. It was one of those big, crazy pipe dreams I never thought I would claim as my own.
But prompted by a class called “The Literature of Health and Healing” that was about chasing your dreams and living your best life, I decided to put pen to paper and accomplish one of my goals—writing a novel. I really just wanted to see if I could do it.
After many years and mountains of self-doubt, my first draft was finished. I was left with the insurmountable question: Now what?
A part of me wanted to dare to dream big, wanted to imagine what it would be like to see my book on shelves.
Another part of me was too scared. There were too many what ifs, and too many synonyms for impossible floating in the air. My dreams were wild, crazy—and scary as hell. I shoved the manuscript away and tried to move on.
Thankfully for me, my husband didn’t let me.
Facing My Fears, Chasing My Dreams
“What do you have to lose?” my husband asked pointedly in the truck when he discovered my plan to chicken out on my dream.
I thought about it. I really thought about it.
I could lose my pride if I was rejected. I could lose the daydreams of holding my own book, of spreading my stories to others. I could lose the ability to believe in dreams. I could lose my naive belief that I could rise above failure and that hard work always paid off.
But, I also thought about what I had to lose if I didn’t chase my wildest dream. I would also lose my belief in the value of my dreams without even trying. I would lose the opportunity to see my goals through, to pursue my best life. Sure, my life was good without the dream. But good would eventually become stagnant. In the words of Langston Hughes:
Hold fast to dreams/ For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly.
I wasn’t ready for my life to be a broken-winged bird. I wanted to fly, or at least break my wings trying.
Chase the Dreams That Scare You
That day years ago, I listened to my husband. Even though I was scared, I chased my dream and sent my manuscript to publishers. Many rejections, several tears, and quite a few doubts later, I got the chance to see my wildest dream come true: I got my first book published.
Once I achieved my wildest dream, though, I gained something even more important—the courage to dream again. I chased more dreams in my writing journey, published more books, and continued to go after the things that scared me.
I’m still doing that. I’m still chasing bigger dreams, wilder dreams, dreams so impossible they frighten me. I’m still going after dreams I know will probably never come true—but I’ve learned not to let that stop me. I am my own limitation when it comes to my goals.
Along the way, I’ve learned something important: If your dreams don’t scare you a little, perhaps you need to chase bigger dreams.
The fear of failure coupled with the unknown is a terrifying thing. As humans, it is in our nature to want to play it safe and to self-preserve. However, I’ve come to learn in my journey that playing it safe doesn’t always lead to satisfaction. In fact, it can lead to something worse than failure—regret, boredom, and a feeling of never reaching your potential.
Chasing your wildest dreams is fear-inspiring because the truth is, simply chasing your dreams does not mean they’ll come true. I’ve come to learn this firsthand because even though one of my wildest dreams has come true, many others have not. Hard work and perseverance don’t always equate to success.
As cheesy as sounds, though, it is in the pursuit of the dream that we learn what we really want, who we are, and what fulfills us. We learn who our true friends are and who they are not. We learn what we’re made of and what we’re capable of.
So, I say to you: Chase your dreams, the scarier the better. Live life on the edge, be merciless in your pursuit of your future, and don’t back down from a dream that feels too crazy to come true.
Because, in reality, it might not come true... then again, it just might.
It is in the “might” that we can find the most exhilarating aspects of life and pursue true fulfillment.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing. Learn more about her works at www.lindsaydetwiler.com.