Dangerous Dreams

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.

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

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?

Image: tradebit.com

Image: tradebit.com

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?

12 thoughts on “Dangerous Dreams

  1. Maurice A. Barry

    Nothing like a frosty morning to get you thinking. The cold and quiet sets the long view square in focus.
    Another way to look at things…right now focus on the journey ahead. To me…far away…it seems like a good one, fuelled by hope. Just look at the end, from time to time, when you need that extra strength.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you. I keep forgetting the wisdom of taking things one step at a time. I’m great at telling other people to do that, but for some reason can never remember to do it myself! πŸ™‚ Thank you for reminding me.

  2. live.retridemption

    Reading your post got my nerves tingling and my heart beat up. It makes me smile thinking that the same terror is inspired by both success and rejection. To me, that almost feels like being rejected means that you’re being prepared for success… if that makes any sense at all.

    I hope it works out for you, and the success you wish for isn’t far away.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you for this great comment. I love your idea that being rejected means you’re being prepared for success – that’s brilliant, and I’ll do my best to remember that every day!

      Thank you for your good wishes – I’m sending you some happy thoughts and wishes for success in your life, too. Thank you for visiting my blog. πŸ™‚

  3. anna3101

    I actually understand you. And I think that the process you are describing is what keeps so many of us far from our dreams. We are actually afraid of them coming true, even though generally no one wants to admit it.

    I remember having exactly the same reaction when my cherished dream of moving abroad came true. I was very excited but also very scared. I had no more excuses – I couldn’t say it wasn’t possible, I couldn’t say no one would ever give me a job there and plenty of other things I said to myself before. Impossible dream turning into reality is actually pretty much terrifying. What if it’s not going to work? What if I fail? What if the dream was much better and more beautiful in my head than in my life?

    So beware πŸ™‚ One day soon you won’t be able to be safe in the world you know and say “You know, I really, really want to be a writer but of course it’s not possible because I am not talented enough/the competition is too high/it’s too difficult/I don’t have enough experience/no one will be interested in my books (insert whatever excuse you personally like the best)”. And when you know you cannot rely on the safety of your excuses anymore, well, that’s where the frightening and exciting things start to happen! πŸ™‚ Good luck!!!

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      You are very, very wise… πŸ™‚

      Thank you for your comment, and for sharing your story. You’ve understood exactly what I meant in my post – excuses are like security blankets, and we both hate and love them in equal measure. And sometimes we’d rather not try anything new for fear of failing than push ourselves to follow our dreams. Aren’t we a silly little species? πŸ˜€

  4. aanderand

    There is an old saying, “be careful of what you wish for”. πŸ™‚ I know what you are going through, there have been many jobs/projects that I wanted in the worst way and then was terrified when I got them. I sure you will do just fine, this is something you have been preparing for all your life and it is time to make it real. You have the discipline to carry it off, something I envy very much. Even if you don’t make the short list, you know that your work is valued by some and there will be others who will share that opinion, so use that and keep on going.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks, Rand. Hope I’ll always have that discipline! I have days when the last thing I want to do is put my fingers on a keyboard, but hopefully those days will be outnumbered by the ones in which the ideas are flowing.

      Thanks for your comment, and your sage advice, as always. πŸ™‚

  5. Salubri

    Well, what to say, I have a few thoughts on this… I’ll try to be brief (on the DART to work).

    Having read what you write on here (this post being a prime example), I’m pretty confident that you have found the right dream to follow (I’d say chase it hard if at all possible *grin*).

    I agree, chasing a particularly exciting dream can be thrilling and more than a little scary (What if I get it? What if it gets ME?); more than anything else that moment, when the chase is almost over and you are right atop your quarry, is spine tingling, heart thumping, nervous anticipation inducing bliss!

    Well, so is your writing lady! Give us more! πŸ˜‰

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author


      You’re the sweetest. And I know you know a little bit about chasing exciting yet scary dreams…! πŸ˜‰

      Thank you for this lovely comment. I’m so glad to see you stopping by here again, and utterly delighted to know what I’m doing here is meeting with your approval! I know how high your standards are… πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: i dream. « Poeter

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