1. You’ll have to work. Hard. Harder than you thought. Because you’re no longer just working for your rent and upkeep. You have a dream to support, to feed, to grow, and the world won’t offer you free room and board in the interim. You’ll be working twice as hard, and in the eyes of the world, it’ll seem like a Quixotic windmill charge. Work anyway.
2. You’ll need the courage of your conviction. Because you’ll be lucky if anyone understands your dream. There will be those who do not understand the nature of dreams, who will encourage you towards the practical, the predicable, the ‘check-the-box’ sort of life. Their ideas will seem terribly sensible, safe, alluring, and stifling, yet they are easy compared to the dreamers who think they know better than you. These will be the friends, neighbors, and colleagues who will shower you with advice and commentary, critiquing and correcting, filling you with so much information that there’ll be days when you wonder where your inspiration ends and their’s begins. Confide in a trusted few, politely put-off the rest, and keep going.
3. You won’t feel ready. Hardly anyone does. You can write or practice or whittle for hours and hours on end without ever feeling like you’ve got it perfect. There’s always another way to play a scene, to dance a step, to write the lyric, and you’re not always going to receive a cosmic answer about which way to write, act, dance, or paint it. So you’re going to choose one option, print it, and pray that it’s the right one.
4. It’ll be frightening. The book is written, edited, and published. The movie has been shot, edited, scored, and stamped on a DVD. The last stroke is dry on the canvas, the photo has been shopped, cropped, color-graded, and framed. The curtain is ready to rise on the nod of the director and in that moment, just before you push play, or you take your step on to that stage, you’ll be thinking of all the rehearsing you didn’t do, the scene that could have been re-written, the shot that you think you should pull from the display. You’re going to think, “They’ll see me now. There’s nothing between me and them and the dream – it’ll be viewed and judged. What then?” This is the plunge, the moment of no return, when all your hard work will be seen for the first time. You will worry. You will panic. You might even feel sick. But you’ll plunge anyway. Because…
5. It’ll be worth it. Whatever the dream is, whatever the goal is, as long as you focus on the art itself - the carving, the book, the movie, the dance, the song, the meal -, you will make it. In the end, dreaming was never about the acclaim (which is fickle), the applause (which is never assured), or the money (which may or may not come). It’s about giving your best, being challenged to the next level, and ultimately, living a life worth having.
Living a dream is tough: it requires courage, risk, creativity, and tenacity. But in the end, it’s the only real way to live.