Commiserate: Dreams Vs. Reality

A warning, this article didn’t turn out as funny as my commiserate series usually does. But if you let yourself feel all the feels with this one, I’ll be releasing an article Thursday on how to stop this from happening to you (or me) ever again!

I’ve never told anyone this before, but I’ve always had this fantasy of sitting on the iconic Oprah Show couch as she rambles on about how life changing my novel is. How she couldn’t put it down and how everyone else in the world should be picking it up.

But, I haven’t written a novel…and the Oprah Show no longer exists.

Unfortunately, drenching yourself in comforting fantasies of success won’t get you anywhere.

When you spend time deeply thinking about something, it can trick your brain into feeling like you’ve already taken action. Making it that much harder to ACTUALLY take action.

And sometimes taking action is worse. Your fantasy of success can be so vivid that you jump in head first without thinking of all of the painful little (necessary) tasks that will keep you afloat.

As someone who owns two businesses, trust me, there is ALWAYS pain when you go for something big. Success can be boring as hell! 

I hate to burst any bubbles out there, but if you don’t know how to code, you aren’t going to be the next Zuckerberg any time soon. And if you’ve never worked in an industry, chances are you won’t be disrupting it without spending a LOT of time learning the background.

Don’t believe me? I read this horror story a couple of weeks ago. Take heed!

But we’ve all been there to different extents, so let’s commiserate!

The Idea

You could be anywhere when it happens.

This amazing glowing orb of excitement enters your brain and you just can’t shake it. It kind of feels like fate is unfurling the red carpet to your destiny.

Maybe you want to create a product, make an app, run a marathon, switch careers, or start a small business…but whatever it is, you come to life at the very thought of it!

You believe in the possibilities of this idea so much that you wonder if you should ever share it. Either for fear that such an amazing idea will be stolen from underneath you, or for fear that other people just won’t be able to see the epic potential that you do.

The Fantasy

The idea begins to take over every quiet moment of your life.

You walk down the street and you think about it.

You try to sleep and you think about it.

You eat a meal and you think about it.


You start to spend your days doing research. Finding the holes and filling every nook and cranny of your life-changing idea until it becomes whole.

The more you roll the idea through the mind, the more it begins to feel like an inevitability. Something the world owes you. Something you were born to accomplish!

The Dilemma

At any moment, you could take the idea that has been consuming you and translate it to the real world. But each time you try, you choke. What if you’re missing something? What if you fail? What if it doesn’t bring you the happiness you think it will?

The idea is perfect. The idea is yours. If it stays in your head, then there is no way it can be tainted by the world. After all, the promise of greatness is so much more exciting than the potential crushing reality of defeat.

With so much preamble, it begins to rot a little in your mind. It begins to feel a little more fantastical, a little less real with every day that passes without action.

You have to start.

Instead of pushing in with all of the excitement and energy you once had, the cloud of self doubt that hangs over you insists that you dip your toes in with half measures.

You sit alone and try to work while hiding your idea from prying eyes.

And for awhile, it works. A bit of that hope comes back.

The Reality

The problem with keeping your idea to yourself is that there is no one to help you through the hard stuff. No one cheering on your efforts and minor successes. No one to talk you through hard times and lend advice

The exhilaration of trying something new quickly turns to the tiring monotony of working alone. Any doubt that others express carries that much more weight as the joy begins to fade.

All of the drive and energy you got from the first few steps completely leaves you. And the idea of working on that thing you were once so passionate about leaves you feeling bitter and empty.

There was so much promise. How could it just disappear?

You take a bitter look at the remaining mementos of your dream. These constant reminders of the money you burned and the time you wasted chasing smoke. You try to comfort yourself by remembering that this isn’t necessarily the end. You just need a break. You can always start again next week, next month, or next year.

That’s it! A new year’s resolution.

But deep down, there’s a more honest part of you that knows it’s over.

This dream is dead.

Again, I get that this one is a little sad. I feel sad writing it. I’ve spent most of my life in a pattern of getting manic, believing I can DO ALL THE THINGS, getting overwhelmed, and avoiding the hell out of things.

That’s why it’s taken me two weeks to release an article I already had 75% written. But I think this is a good time to acknowledge that I can’t turn everything into a light-hearted joke. Sometimes I just need to expose the harsh reality of a problem.

But, Thursday I promise we will talk about the hopeful side of this topic!

In the meantime, let me know what dreams you’ve abandoned in the comments (or on Twitter), and how you feel about it. We can spend the next day and a half feeling bad for ourselves, and start kicking ass by the end of the week!  

– Jenn

Title photo by: Matthew Henry

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