For so long in my life, I was told that my dreams were too big.
“Real love isn’t like that.”
“You’ll never make any money as a writer.”
“You’re just a spoiled kid.”
And I listened.
I settled and decided I would try to live by the rules. After college I got a job and an apartment. Everything on the surface looked great but I felt like a fake, like an actor who was just standing in for an employee on leave, or a young girl house-sitting for a cool 20-something.
I felt like an actor because this life I had fallen into was not mine.
The biggest sign for me was that I wasn’t writing. Writing is such an essential part of me that without it, I didn’t know who I was or how to be in the world.
Even though I should have been happy about my cool new job and apartment in the city I loved, all I could feel was a pit growing in my stomach and the deep feeling that something was wrong.
I stayed in relationships that weren’t right for me. My boyfriend wasn’t that nice. I made excuses for him. When he left and then changed his mind (as easy as deciding to wear a different pair of jeans), I welcomed him back with open arms.
I stayed because I had made a decision a long time ago, when I chose to believe everyone else instead of my own beating heart, that my dreams were too big. I believed that I really was just a spoiled kid who watched too many romantic comedies; that I should just grow up and settle for what was right in front of me.
And this one decision made me live and love from a dark place I can only call fear.
Living in fear felt easy.
Staying here meant I wasn’t alone. But I was giving up on so much.
By staying in mediocre relationships I might never have to face the pain of being lonely, but I would also never have the chance of finding the love I had always dreamed about.
My writing might never be rejected, but I would also never know how it felt to see someone moved to tears by one of my poems.
Finding my yoga practice when I did has made all of the difference.
On my yoga mat, I’ve learned how to quiet the voices of the non-dreamers, and most importantly, the loud voice of fear in my head; the tiny, scared and powerless loop of negativity that has no stake in the real world.
I’ve learned to quiet the fear so that when it comes up I don’t let it keep me small and I don’t let it keep me from dreaming.
By quieting the fear I am able to hear love instead—that true inner voice, the one that is deep and knowing, always intelligent, warm and solid. The one I can trust when it feels like I am stumbling around in the dark.
This practice has allowed me to be a dreamer again and today I dream even bigger, without hesitation, because I know that even though I might struggle and fall when I put myself out there, all that matters is that I am trying.
I know that every time I stumble and find the strength to get back up I am growing closer to the life that I was meant for and the person I am supposed to be.
I believe that in life we only have this one chance, so we must dream.
We must be fervent.
We must wake up and take a hard look at our lives and make sure our dreams are big enough and then do the work—get rid of the toxic relationship; if the job is soul-crushing, we must find a way to educate and reinvent ourselves so we can find work that is worthy of us.
We must always keep dreaming, because no one else will do it for us. We must work hard every single day to keep searching, and refuse to be content with feeling discontent.
I believe in the dreamers. I believe in you.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Carrie Marzo/ Travis May
Photo: Caras Ionut / Pixoto