How many times have you heard someone say that? Oh come on, be realistic, you know that isn’t possible/practical/logical/appropriate/safe or some similar admonition. How often do you hear this? How often do you say be realistic to the people you work with, your friends, family, or yourself (in that funny little inner voice of yours, you know, the critical, high-pitched, shrill one)?
In my experience, this entreaty to be realistic is often used when someone expresses a dream or a non-conventional goal such as when someone shares the desire to live in Bora-Bora, or when one wants to quit her lucrative and prestigious job, or perhaps when someone follows her desire to do something crazy like take up Olympic archery at age 41. And why do we say this? Ah, the why is a pretty easy one; we say this because we are afraid.
What are we afraid of when we think or say be realistic? I posit that we are afraid of bucking the status quo, we are afraid to get uncomfortable as we contemplate living our truth, we are afraid to piss people off, or that we will be judged, or that people won’t like us, etc. So we stay small, we eke out an existence of obligation and adherence to social convention and expectation, regardless of how painful this is.
It’s easier to let our dreams, as unrealistic as they may be, slip away, than do the sometimes hard work of taking a stand for our truth, pursuing the things that make us do cartwheels (actual or figurative), or following the path that make our eyelashes tingle. Cultivation of mediocrity seems to be de rigueur, and realistic is firmly in the mediocre category.
When it comes to being the admonisher, it’s often because we feel challenged by others when they dare to think or dream or do outside the well-circumscribed lines. If we live in that miniscule, fearful place, the dreams of others only serve to highlight our misery and shed light on the fact that we are not following or path. And yes, I do realize that not everyone is discontent with a life of conformity, but I’d wager a week of chai lattes that everyone has unfilled dreams that at some time someone (or that pesky inner critic) told them was unrealistic.
So, where can you throw of the realistic mantle and embrace a little (or a lot) of risk, adventure, and hell-yes-I’ll give-it-a-try attitude? What lines have you been coloring in? Where are you playing it safe and small? What’s your one big dream that you thought was unrealistic?
Dreams don’t really have an expiration date, so I suggest you dust off one that you thought was impossible and chase it. Society needs dreamers and doers just like you.
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. ~ Mark Twain