When Someone Tells You Not to Bother Dreaming

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“When someone tells you not to bother dreaming, they’re not on your side.” – Jami Attenberg, I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home

In her poignant memoir, “I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home,” Jami Attenberg pens a compelling quote: “When someone tells you not to bother dreaming, they’re not on your side.” This line, profound in its simplicity, has echoed in my mind. It’s given me the chance to reflect on my owns perspectives on life, dreams, and relationships.

A seasoned writer and a master of modern fiction, Attenberg ventures into the realm of memoir. In this book, she courageously shares her inspiring journey of self-discovery and creative exploration. Her memoir navigates through themes of friendship, independence, and drive, offering an intriguing blend of personal narrative and reflections on art and individuality.

Let’s reflect further on Attenberg’s quote, discussing the importance of pursuing dreams and keeping them alive despite great adversity. We’ll explore the importance of dreaming, the value of supportive relationships, and the strategies to overcome discouragement.

Anyone Who Discourages Your Dreams Isn’t Aligned With Your Interests

When I first read this line from Attenberg, I was struck by her stark honesty. At its core, this simple quote profoundly suggests that anyone who discourages us from our dreams aren’t truly aligned with our interests. We should instead actively seek out allies in our journey of growth and self-fulfillment. In this context, dreams aren’t just fanciful wishes, but are reflections of our aspirations, desires, and potential.

In our quest for actualization, dreamers need more than just tolerance. Dreams aren’t solitary pursuits, but rather than communal endeavors that require active encouragement and support. Dreaming is a fundamental aspect of our identity, a vessel for our ambitions, and a roadmap to our potential.

Discouragement isn’t merely a hindrance; it’s a destructive force against our dreams. It breeds doubt, dampens enthusiasm, and undermines our faith in our own abilities.Those who discourage us from dreaming can inadvertently, or intentionally, stunt our growth and derail our journey towards fulfillment.Discouragement casts a shadow over our dreams, stifling our ambition, dampening our creative spirit, and lessening the chance for us to innovate. Discouragement is like a roadblock hindering the journey towards self-fulfillment.

My Personal Experience as a Dreamer

I remember when I first shared my dream of becoming a writer. At first, I was encouraged and consistently applauded for my creativity. Then again, I was just seven years old, having written my first short story for a second grade assignment.

But as the years passed, my aspirations to become a full-time writer was increasingly met with skepticism. Many acquaintances, and even some friends and family members, casually dismissed my dream. My aspirations of being a novelist and essayist were often treated as a whimsical fantasy rather than a serious ambition. 

By the time I graduated high school, my ideas became dismissed as fanciful, even frivolous, by people who were supposed to be my cheerleaders.  From so many people I’d expected encouragement from, I kept taking blow after blow. The impact of such sudden dismissal was profound. It sparked a wave of self-doubt, casting a shadow over my dreams. 

Eventually, my motivation waned, and I found myself questioning my abilities, my potential, and even my worth. I felt like a ship losing sight of its guiding star. But, the real challenge wasn’t just the external discouragement but also the internal conflict it ignited. I felt unvalued and unmotivated, casting doubt on my capabilities.

For well over a decade, I battled against my own self-doubt, struggling to keep my dreams alive in the face of skepticism. The continued lack of support became a daunting obstacle, making the path to my dreams seem steep and treacherous. I was constantly told to get a real job, which didn’t pay enough for me to ever gain any sort of financial independence. 

By my thirties, all I had left were my dreams, and the silent hope that a way out would come. It would come, and when it did, I burst forth and seized it. Fortunately, here I am today, able to write these words with no worry of retribution or a need to earn from them. But, you have to make your own luck, and to do so, you can’t stop anyone from letting you continue your dreaming.

The Key Importance of Dreaming

Dreams are the lifeblood of personal growth and fulfillment. They are the seeds of ambition, the blueprints for our success, and the compass guiding us to our true north. Our dreams imbue our lives with purpose and meaning, providing a vision that transcends the mundane everyday. 

Our dreams are the fuel that ignites our inner fire, kindling ambition and inspiring us to act. They push us to transcend our boundaries, challenge our limitations, and strive for excellence. These aren’t mere wishful thoughts; rather, they are the catalysts of transformation.

History is replete with examples of individuals who dared to dream and defied all odds to turn those dreams into reality. Here are five.

Oprah Winfrey overcame a difficult childhood to build a media empire. With her Book Club, she also inspired people to read controversial books with poignant ideas and fresh perspectives. She continues to help people discover the power of igniting conversation every day.

Orville and Wilbur Wright are considered the fathers of aviation. They faced many challenges, such as family illness, lack of funding, and skepticism from the public. Yet, they persisted in their experiments and inventions. They successfully built and flew the first powered airplane in 1903, changing the course of history.

Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic and influential actresses of all time. She grew up in a difficult environment, moving from one foster home to another, and facing abuse and neglect. She also struggled with mental health issues and addiction. Despite such hardships, she pursued her passion for acting and modeling, and rose to fame with her beauty, charisma, and talent.

Jim Carrey is well known for his hilarious and versatile performances in comedy films. But few realize he had a rough childhood, living in poverty and working as a janitor to support his family. He also faced rejection and criticism from many agents and producers. However, he never gave up on his dream of becoming a comedian and actor. He used his humor and creativity to overcome his challenges and eventually achieved worldwide success and recognition.

Elvis Presley is widely regarded as the king of rock and roll. He grew up in a poor family in Mississippi, where he was exposed to various musical genres. Elvis faced racial discrimination and cultural barriers, as he was influenced by black music and style. He also faced opposition from conservative groups, who denounced his music and movements as immoral and vulgar. Despite these many obstacles, he pursued his musical career with passion and innovation, becoming one of the most popular and influential artists of the 20th century.

These stories underscore the power of dreams and the courage of dreamers. True dreamers inspire those dreamers still yet unrecognized to never stop dreaming. They continue to bring hope to those of us who are still downtrodden, because you just never know when you’ll get your chance in the way these individuals did.

How to Recognize Truly Supportive People

So, the pursuit of dreams is far from a solo endeavor. Having supportive individuals in one’s life is invaluable. They are the lighthouses guiding us through the storm. But, they are also the cheerleaders who celebrate our victories and the shoulders to cry on who comfort us in our defeats.

The role of mentors, friends, and family in nurturing dreams cannot be overstated. They provide invaluable insights and constructive criticism. Most importantly, they believe in our potential even when we struggle to see it ourselves. While family members were supportive and encouraging when I was younger, however, as I grew older they urged me to pick a career by holing myself up in a specific niche. I’ve never rolled that way. I need the freedom to explore new avenues without the burden of deadlines, rigid guidelines, or the limitations of an hourly wage.

Fortunately, I’ve had others who believed in my dreams and mentored me. Several of my high school English teachers recognized my passion for writing and encouraged me to nurture it. Their faith in me served as a source of strength, empowering me to believe in my dreams and myself. Truly supportive individuals in our lives are beacons in the darkness, guiding us through uncertainty and adversity. They don’t just stick around when times are good, but rather, they are the only ones who are still around in our darkest hours.

How Do We Overcome Discouragement?

Overcoming the discouragement flung at me from all directions was a complex journey for me. Not only did it require me to learn a great deal of resilience, it also led me down this path of introspection which I still follow today through my writing. I had to  recognize my self-worth and reaffirm my dreams even when no one was there to back me up. 

Most importantly, I learned to distinguish between constructive criticism and dismissive negativity. I continue to choose to use the former as a tool for growth and disregard the latter. Most of all, I had to trust in my capabilities, working tirelessly to refine my skillset and learn new skills as necessary.

This paradigm shift in my perspective ushered in personal growth and, eventually, achievements of significance. I drove myself to pursue my dreams with renewed vigor. Today, as a self-published author, I look back at my journey with humility and gratitude. While I took a winding road that was roundabout in many ways, my self-belief ultimately allowed me to carve out a career in writing, however vagrant it has often been.

Being a Supportive Voice

Being a writer comes with the responsibility of being supportive and encouraging to others. I don’t ignore the fact that writing as a supportive voice is an act of kindness that can have a profound impact on someone’s dreams. My entire strategy in article writing has shifted dramatically over time, from being rhetorical, to being strictly informational, cut-and dry, to wandering through a stream of consciousness. 

Today, I make it a point to write about my own life experience while also providing actionable advice and positive reinforcement. I hope that my words can ignite a spark in the minds of others, just as those of my mentors did for me. I continue to provide a listening ear, constructive advice, and words of encouragement when needed. My only wish is that people would take me up on this offer much more often.

For my concluding thoughts, I’d like to thank Jami Attenberg for her stark insight, reminding us of the importance of dreams and the value of supportive relationships. Recognizing supportive people, overcoming discouragement, and being a supportive voice yourself are the keys to personal development and the pursuit of our dreams. So, embrace your dreams, surround yourself with supportive individuals, and find that someone in your life who may just need a kind word or a pat on the back to find their path.

~ Amelia <3

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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