A few years ago, I asked one of my students what he wanted to do; who he wanted to be; what his dreams were. His answer was that the way he was brought up, dreams weren’t really encouraged; they’re not achievable. HOLD THE PHONE. What?!
Chris (Static Era guitarist / best friend) bought me a beautiful book recently called The Outliers (highly recommend it) which is about the stories of success, and all the things that contribute to success. I managed to find an audiobook of it on YouTube actually – check it out
. Anyway, the book talks about how it’s not just about hard work, and good work ethic, but a number of out-of-our-control factors that make up whether or not someone is “successful” with achieving their dream. One of the points that the book made is how we live in a culture now where we are spoiled by choice – there are so many things that we CAN do that we are often left in a state of “wtf am I doing with my life”. Overwhelmed by choice, we convince ourselves to do ALL the things, which can often deviate from our ideal path, leaving us to be spread a little too thin. Fuck knows I’m a victim of that mentality. I’ve always worked a minimum of two jobs at a time. I almost became a mechanic once. True story. And my job history is rather telling of how many choices I’ve experimented with.
But the difference was this: I’ve always been encouraged to follow my dream. More importantly, I’ve always been told that my dreams are achievable. Whatever that dream might be.
I was born with a relatively rare condition called hydrocephelus. While a lot of people know about it, it still takes a lot of people by surprise when I tell them I’ve had 10 brain surgeries – and 24 operations in total. Basically, hydrocephelus translates to “water in the brain”. While everyone’s brain floats in water (otherwise known as cerebral spinal fluid, or CSF), most people have an entry way, and an exit way, but I have a cyst in the middle of my brain which blocks off my exit way. It’s not ideal. So I have a shunt – basically a tube – which runs from my brain to my stomach to drain out my CSF instead. It’s pretty gnarly. I have three scars on my tummy (which I used to be MEGA self conscious about), and all kinds of funky things under my mop of hair, but it works. I’m alive. And because I’m alive, my mother has ALWAYS told me that I have a purpose – so I should go forth and conquer.
I have always thought it’s slightly bizarre how our education system works (in New Zealand, anyway). We leave school at 17 or 18 (if the schooling system worked for you, that is, and you managed to stay that long), and while one day you’re being told you have to ask to take a piss (go to the bathroom, for those who aren’t familiar with Kiwi vernacular); the next day you’re asked to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. When I left school, I thought I’d start my own company and teach singing. I did that. Ran it for four years. I dabbled in automotive – studying it for three years. I contemplated establishing myself in the hospitality industry – until a table of pilots decided to take bets on what my bra size was – to which I was given curt instruction to remain polite and ladylike at all times, because fuck sexism, it’s all about the money… but one thing I HAVE always stuck to is music – particularly how big a role music can have in ones life. Writing, singing, listening… music has always been there for me; through my struggles with depression, my surgeries, my many shitty (and not so shitty) relationships, my struggles, and my triumphs… music has always kept me focused. Music has always been my goal. And I’m doing it. I’m literally living my dream.
So why are so many people told not to dream? Is it the fear of failure? The overwhelming options that we are faced with? The unrealistic expectations that we put on ourselves? Well, as contrite as it sounds, how about we stop focusing so much on achieving the dream, and actually enjoying the shit that we do in order to get there – wherever “there” is? Half the time, the process to get somewhere is actually exactly like being “there”, just with a smaller pay cheque. Which is a freaking good test about whether or not you want to actually do that “thing” in the first place, really. I’m so not a money driven person. Haha.
Maybe it’s just me. But I like the hard work. I enjoy the challenges and obstacles. They just make the wins that much sweeter.
Keep dreaming, bitches xxx