Earlier this week my sister Aisling, who blogs about her quilting business over at Bazaar, mentioned something on Facebook that resonated deeply with me. She had come across an image on Pinterest that read “If your dreams don’t scare you then they’re not big enough” – a quote that’s popping up online quite a bit recently – and was struck by the amount of pressure we put ourselves under these days. Pressure to achieve impressive heights of success, to have dreams that are unique, quirky and trendsetting, to inspire others with the way we live our own lives.
While I love inspirational words and graphics – I have a Pinboard devoted to them – Aisling has an important point. A quote like that can motivate, or it can increase the pressure. What’s wrong with having ordinary dreams? Ones that don’t scare, but instead encourage us to move forward with our lives in small and satisfying ways. One of my big dreams is to have a garden someday. There’s nothing remotely scary about that, but it’s something I know will add to my personal happiness. It pushes me to make the changes in my life that will enable me to have that garden, but it’s not something that I’m afraid to go out there and achieve; dreams don’t always work like that.
In the last decade the online world of blogging and creativity has exploded. The amount of innovative and talented people adding their voices to the blogosphere is staggering. I’ve said this before, but I find myself constantly in awe and delighted at all the talent out there, and at the willingness of so many creative people to share their work and artistic knowledge. Reading through my feeds each day is inspiring.
But in the middle of this creative sharing culture, it can be easy to feel like you’re floundering. There are literally over a million blog posts published each day. With blog after beautiful blog to browse through it can become overwhelming. If your self confidence isn’t sturdy it’s easy to lose yourself in envy, hopelessness and competition. And which of us hasn’t felt like that at some point? It happens, we’re human, we want more, want to be more.
The quote that Aisling spotted is representative of this flip side of our creative culture, of the pressure we place upon ourselves to keep up, to be more, to present a sophisticated life and art to our readers. Ez of Creature Comforts wrote a blog post about this recently. Her honesty and bravery is touching, and has inspired many other bloggers to follow suit and begin being more open and honest with their own readers. It’s encouraging to see others start taking part in a conversation about it. It sets us free to be ourselves.
What I want to say is this: if your dreams are big enough for you, then they’re big enough.
Don’t get caught up in the anxiety of a culture that can push us to be more than we want to be. Learn to be comfortable with yourself. The key is to focus on you instead of on others. Ask yourself ‘what do I really want from life’ and ‘what do I want my blog to represent?’. Your readers will appreciate an honest approach, and it’s far more satisfying than feeling you’re just trying to keep up.
We don’t need dreams that scare us – they’re called nightmares – we need dreams that reflect who we are, and what life honestly means to us. We need dreams that excite and propel us forward. Sure, some of them will be daunting, but if we’re dreaming big because we think we’re supposed to, then it’s time to reevaluate.
Dream big enough for you, that’s all the dreaming you need to do.