Do you know if your dream is still possible?
I met an old work acquaintance for lunch last week at a small café in Manhattan. We sat at an elevated table near the bar and after we exchanged the usual pleasantries that people exchange when they haven’t seen each other in almost a year, we got down to business. We got down to the reason why, seemingly out of the blue, this former co-worker emailed me asking if I was free to meet for lunch.
He told me that things at the company I used to work for were going great. Since I quit in May of 2015 to pursue writing, the company has continued expanding. New clients. New projects. New opportunities. So many wonderful things were happening. But with new clients and new projects and new opportunities come new obstacles. And he said that they were looking to hire someone to do exactly what I used to do.
Long story short, he wanted to see if I had any interest in coming back to my old job, saying there was no one he would rather hire than me. We didn’t get into the specifics of compensation, but I knew that accepting this offer to come back would have made my life comfortable. As he was laying out all the reasons why he would love for me to come back, I started thinking about the fact that accepting this offer was the right thing to do if I wanted to side with comfort and certainty. If I wanted to settle into something stable and predictable once again.
And as I sat in this small café mulling over the idea of going back my old job, I had a million things racing through my mind. Things like a steady paycheck. Health insurance. Benefits. Retirement plans. Savings. Getting back on a more traditional schedule. Things that, sometimes unfortunately, are a part of being an adult.
I did my best to compose my thoughts and form a coherent response.
Once I did, I said I was flattered by the offer but I couldn’t accept it. I was making too much progress, getting too much positive feedback. I was feeling way too good about writing to stop now. To stop before I knew whether or not I could make it. Of course, I haven’t made it yet. But I truly and honestly believe I’m on the right track and that I’ve come too far and worked too hard to stop now.
He said he understood. He said he knew that getting me to come back was a shot in the dark, but he had to try. We finished our meal and wished each other the best of luck before parting ways.
After this meeting, I started thinking about the things all of us dream about. And invariably, I ended up spending a lot of my time wondering what the scariest thing about our dreams is. What I came up with is that a lot of the time we think the scariest thing about our dreams is trying and failing. After all, trying and failing is painful and disheartening and many other mostly negative adjectives.
And while trying and failing is definitely a scary possibility, it’s not the scariest thing about our dreams. The scariest thing about our dreams is never knowing.
Never knowing if our dream was possible. Never knowing if we had what it takes. Never knowing if we could have made it.
The scariest thing about our dreams is always having to wonder ‘what if?’
- What if we had taken that chance?
- What if we committed ourselves?
- What if we stopped worrying so much and started working for what we wanted?
And as I was staring the comfort and security of that job offer right in the face, an offer that from a rational perspective I absolutely should have accepted, it hit me that I still don’t know. I still don’t know if my dream is possible, which is why I have is to keep going. Because compared to the daunting possibility of never knowing if we have what it takes to succeed, failure is a walk in the park.
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