The world is frozen today. Everywhere I look, all I see is whiteness – the sky matches the ground, and there’s a quiet layer of frost over everything. I feel like the only living thing in a hundred miles.
Today I’m thinking about dreams – not so much the visions that dance behind your eyes when you’re asleep, but the hopes and plans you build for your future, which you work towards and focus on. They might be gentle, private dreams, ones that nobody else knows about, or they might be dreams you’ve chosen to share with your family and friends, or perhaps with the world at large. Whether everyone knows about your dream, or nobody does, the struggle to make it come true belongs to you, and you alone. Letting people into your dream means you have a wider support network to draw on (though you’ve bound to get some detractors, too.) Usually, people who love you will be behind you all the way, ready to help in whatever way they can. However, the thing with having a dream, one you’ve cherished and treasured all your life and hugged close to your heart, is that it becomes a part of you. No matter how many people stand around you cheering you on, working towards your dream can still seem like the most personal struggle you’ve ever faced.
I’ve posted before about how ready I am to face rejection and knockbacks. Of course, it’s one thing to have yourself steeled and prepared to go through rejection, and another thing altogether to actually go through it. I’ve never really gone through it because I’ve never allowed anyone to see anything I’ve written, with the exception of this blog. I can only hope I will manage to negotiate the difficult waters of rejection when it’s time for me to go through it for real. But over the last few days I’m realising how terrifying it can also be to meet with success, or at least the hint or possibility of success. Being longlisted for the competition I entered some time ago was wonderful, but also scary. It’s like having a crush on someone when you’re not completely ready to enter into a relationship with them, I suppose. Having feelings for someone which you keep to yourself, while treasuring the pain of your unrequited love, feels a lot like having a dream that you wish you could share with the world but which you’re afraid to even talk about with other people. If you do pluck up the courage to share your dream with the world, and you’re met with the merest hint of acceptance, it’s like the sweet horror that greets you when you tell your crush you love them – and they reciprocate.
I’ve been thinking about writing all my life, and I’ve been dreaming about writing for nearly as long. I’ve always wanted to do it professionally, but I never thought I actually would. I thought I’d keep it as ‘the great unattainable’, the tantalising thing just out of reach. I thought it would be a treasure just for me, and that I’d keep it safe inside my heart. And then life handed me the opportunity to give my dream a chance to set foot in the outside world, and I didn’t have any excuses any more. It was like someone telling my greatest crush exactly how I felt about them, spilling my secret love all over the place for everyone to see, and laugh at. But instead of my crush walking away from me, joining in the ridicule, he gazed at me and said, with a smile, ‘let’s give this thing a try’. And so, I’m starting to feel the terror now. The terror that maybe it might all work, it might all happen. Will I be good enough? Will I have what it takes to make it? Will my writing – my secret love – meet with approval?
I know that being longlisted for a competition isn’t the same thing as meeting with success. Things might still come to nothing, and I may yet have to pack my dream back up into my heart-coffer, and keep it for another day. But it’s a hint, a ray of hopeful light, a suggestion of what it might be like to make it, and I’m surprised to find that I’m scared by it.
It’s normal to be nervous of the new. Isn’t it?