Are you waiting for people’s permission to chase your dream?
This weekend, while taking my son out for a walk, I passed six young children gathered around a gated fence. The fence surrounded a well-manicured, properly-cared-for lawn – except for the neon orange soccer ball, the object of the children’s attention.
Each hesitated to go inside to retrieve the ball. What if they were caught? They might get yelled at!
The oldest unlatched the gate and shoved the smallest kid inside. After three steps, fear overcame him. Turning on his heel, he bolted back to the gate.
I’m not supposed to be here…
I’ve been in this place before. Many a times I’ve knocked a whiffle ball or two into my neighbors garden, but more recently, as the author of this blog. Who am I to give advice on chasing your dreams or living a purposeful life?
The fear those kids faced is real, it affects us all even as we get older. We find ourselves in situations that we think we aren’t supposed to be in.
Maybe you find yourself managing a team of highly qualified co-workers. Maybe you joined a yoga class only to discover that “beginner” meant having prior experience. Maybe you want to speak up about a social issue you care about but are afraid of defending your position.
Instead of inserting ourselves into these positions, we flee back to the gate and wait for someone’s permission to come inside.
But I’m here to tell you to turn back. You are supposed to be here. Welcome!
A “Universal” Example
Andy Weir, the author of the popular science-fiction novel (and now motion picture) The Martian, is a full-time software engineer. On the side, Weir wrote short stories and shared them on his barebones blog with only a handful of readers.
In 2009, without anyone’s permission, Weir decided he wanted to write a sci-fi novel. After struggling to find a publisher, he published one chapter at a time on his blog, but his readers begged for him to turn it into an eBook. In the span of a few months, The Martian sold over 35,000 copies!
A few months later, after garnering the attention he deserved, Weir signed with a publisher, an audiobook publisher and sold the movie rights!
I’m currently reading The Martian and it’s an enthralling story, but not perfect. Can I tell Weir self-published this book? Yes. But is it still a good story? Yes. Weir had one goal in mind: entertain the reader. Nothing was going to hold him back. Not even his fear of being somewhere he shouldn’t be.
“I’m improving, I think I’m pretty good at coming up with stories and plots. I think my characters tend to be thin. I need more depth. And I think the prose, the actual wordsmithing, is often clumsy. Hopefully, someday I will be actually good at it,” said Weir in a recent interview.
Now It’s Your Turn
We can all learn something from Weir’s example. Sure we might not feel like we belong doing something we have no right doing, but inserting yourself into these circles can sometimes yield results.
Like Weir, I don’t have a writing background. But I’ve forced my way into this tight space and have made a difference. To me, that’s all that matters.
Now it’s your turn. Don’t hesitate at the gate, go inside!