It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! April’s theme is dealing with negativity. When you decide to go in a new direction you can encounter a lot of it, from yourself and others. In the past two weeks I spoke about that pesky voice inside my head and how I’m learning to understand it. This week I’m answering one of the biggest questions that nags at me when I start dreaming – who do I think I am, anyway?
The truth is that I have it pretty good. Actually, I have it more than pretty good, I have it really good. I live in Canada, I’m married to a man I love dearly, we have two beautiful children, and we own our own home. Well, the bank sort of does, but still. Between us, we have 3 computers and 2 cars. Our fridge is well-stocked with good food. My children each own more than 2 pairs of shoes. I own more than 10, even if I usually only wear 2 or 3. These facts mean that I am really freaking affluent, globally speaking.
When I start dreaming and writing lists and thinking about how great it would be to be totally fulfilled and have a house on the water and a super-cool bike, I sometimes start to feel guilty. I feel like maybe I am asking for too much. I feel like maybe I should just count my blessings, be grateful for what I have and not ask for anything else. I don’t want to be greedy and ungrateful. The more than 3 billion people in the world who live on less than $2.50 a day would give anything to enjoy the life I have. Who do I think I am, anyway, wanting more?
I struggled with this one for a long, long time. I think that cultivating gratitude is very important. I have been around the block enough times to know that this is the real secret to happiness. Buying a new handbag or taking a fancy vacation are fun, but in the long run they will not bring you the same sort of contentment that you get from acknowledging the bounty your life already contains. If I already have so much, and I want to be grateful, should I even be asking about my dreams?
Yes! Yes, yes, yes. And here’s why. When I set goals and pursue them I am not taking anything away from anyone else. Not a thing. I am also not denying that I already have a whole heck of a lot of good stuff in my life. Not for a second. There is a big, huge, monumental difference between asking myself what makes my heart sing, and feeling that I am somehow entitled to only good things in my life. Dreaming is not about wanting or entitlement, it is about tapping into the essence of yourself.
When you pursue your dreams, you are working hard. You are working with passion, to build and create new things. Along the way some people open businesses that employ others, create art that inspires us and establish charitable organizations that help the less fortunate. Following your heart enriches the world around you. When you’re doing work you love, you do more of it, more fully and more boldly than if you didn’t believe in your cause. People pursuing their dreams create Etsy boutiques and multi-national conglomerates. They advance the frontiers of science and stage fantastic plays. Their actions benefit us all.
So, to come back to my original question, who do I think I am anyway? I am no one special. I am a middle-class, thirtysomething, suburban mom. I am good at math and horrible at mini golf. I suck at chess, but I will kick your butt if you are so foolish as to challenge me to a game of Taboo. Like everyone, I have passions and dreams and fears and pet peeves. But I believe that you don’t have to be anyone special to follow your heart. I believe that passion is for everyone. That dreams are for everyone. And that they enrich our lives, and the lives of those around us.
In the end, I don’t think the question is who I think I am to pursue my dreams. It’s more like, who do I think I am, that I frequently ignore them? Who do I think I am, that I would rather hide than try? The world needs all of us to get in there, roll up our sleeves, and do some good work. Some passionate, soul-filled, dream-inspired work. I believe that. It’s hokey, and it’s a little bit rah-rah, but it’s also the truest thing I know.
April’s Crafting my Life series is about dealing with negativity. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be the 29th, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on this month’s theme anytime in April, or track down a post you’ve written on the subject sometime in the past, and add yourself to the list. Then read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out the link-ups from January, February and March to get a feel for how it works.