Have you ever felt like your dream has drop-kicked the crap out of you?
I know I have. Many different times in many different ways.
The worst is when your dream feels so close you can touch it.
You can see your dream in front of you. It’s real. It’s happening. Then it smirks and slowly walks out of the door and out of your life like the girl with big eyes at the beginning of an indie music video.
Can you relate?
For me the dream that I feel has slipped out the front door has been was the release of my book All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!, which came out about a year and a half ago.
Long story short if you don’t know it — it took about ten years to see All Groan Up actually come to print. So many hours, re-writes, and rejection. Plus in the book I’m pretty open and vulnerable so it kind of feels like my heart is on each page.
And then after ten years and all the rejection from publishers who liked the book but wouldn’t take chance on an unknown author….the book finally comes out…and….a slight breeze. A low whisper. A small marketing budget that helps the book barely make a sound amidst all the noise.
It’s hard to want to create something more when what you’ve spent the most time creating becomes a pebble tossed in a pond, a half-second splash followed by a rapid descent to the bottom.
And honestly I think what gets me the most is that whenever someone reads All Groan Up, it has an impact and it encourages them. It’s rated 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon, better than my first book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties. I’m proud of 101 Secrets and am honored people have liked it, yet All Groan Up was such a huge part of my life for so many years it’s been really hard to let it go.
The dream of All Groan Up finding its wings and soaring like an eagle has been caged.
All Groan Up has been a penguin, waddling slowly forward.
Can you relate to a dream feeling more penguin than eagle? If so, what do we do?
What to Do With an Unfinished Dream
To all of us I say this — be encouraged.
You never know what can, will, or is supposed to happen with the outcome of your dream. All you can do is the work, then you have to let your dream go.
Lay down the bricks and trust that something amazing is being built.
If you’re tied to the outcome of your dream, the results will drag you to the bottom like an anvil. I know it has for me and it took me awhile to find my air.
If your confidence, self-worth, and meaning in life is solely dependent on the outcome of your work – whether it’s a mass success or a mass failure, one way or another, you will be crushed.
Fame and failure has killed too many good souls.
Just because something doesn’t go global, doesn’t mean it’s not good. Sometimes it’s the exact opposite.
You have no idea who is being encouraged or helped by your dream. You might never know this side of heaven.
Yet, if we just focus on doing meaningful work that sparks our soul, it will spark someone else’s. Sparks beget sparks.
Three stories that have encouraged me in this struggle
1. Searching for Sugar Man
This documentary is a must watch for any creative. It encapsulates this struggle about the meaning and outcome of your work better than any I’ve ever seen. I’m not going to give the movie away, but it’s about a 70s singer/song-writer Sixto Rodriguez and the failure and impact of his work. You just have to watch Searching for Sugar Man!
2. The End of the Tour
Just watched this one, a movie based on the true story of Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky (played by Jesse Eisenberg) following the famed author of the book, Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). It’s not an action thriller by any means, but holy smokes I thought it contained some of the best insight/dialogue on the perils of fame, loneliness, dealing with depression, dealing with failure, etc. (Plus it’s free to watch on Amazon with Prime).
3. Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream
I just learned the story behind the breakout song “Walking on a Dream” for the breakout band Empire of the Sun. The story–Honda picks up the song Walking on a Dream and uses it for a commercial. Then people start buying the song like crazy, and bam the song cracks the Top 100 and becomes an instant hit. Well, eight years after it was released.
The song had a slow build for eight years before any of us would ever hear it.
Let Your Dream Go
Serve your dream up. Do your best to help others. Then, let it go. Your dream can’t fly if you’re clinging onto the back of it.
Sometimes God won’t give us “The Big” because he’s saving our lives.
As I first wrote in All Groan Up, yet still need to really hear:
“I was ready to dream big and be faithful in the big. But I was like a newborn colt, put anything weighty on my shoulders, and my legs buckled. I wanted to carry a big worthy cause when the smallest of loads nearly broke my back. The “big” probably would’ve killed me.
If you’re not secure with less, you will be crushed by more. God saved my life by not giving me all those big things I cried out for. No matter how big my temper tantrum.”
You are more than the visible outcome of your work.
And the outcome of your work might be more than what is currently visible.
What might feel like a small pebble, a small sound, a soft whisper, well it might be making a loud splash somewhere important.
You just can’t hear it right now.