Maybe I don’t have what it takes after all?
I was lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling. I had moved to London three months before full of dreams of making it as a freelance writer. But nothing was happening. I was spending most of my days at home, working on queries for magazines, pitches for guest posts and cold emails for businesses who may need a copywriter but no one was getting back to me. Now money was getting tighter. If something didn’t happen soon…
Maybe my family was right, dreams are only for the rich and the lucky. I should just get a normal job and forget all about writing for a living. Couldn’t I just keep a journal?
Or… Should I keep fighting, prove to them that I could do this? Could I do this? I was mired by self-doubt. The confidence I had when I first started out was quickly disappearing now that I was faced with the cold hard truth of what it really takes to make your dreams come true.
Struggle. Rejection. Tears. Setbacks. Eating noodles for weeks cos that’s all you can afford. Crying yourself to sleep at night wondering if you can really make it. Finding the courage to knock on the next door when the previous 100 had been slammed shut in your face.
Truth bomb: the road to success isn’t straightforward. Anything that’s worth achieving in life takes heaps of courage, a wagon of hard work and a trackload of resilience.
I’m here to tell you: “you can do this”.
When I was on the verge of giving up, I reminded myself of these simple truths. I hope they’ll help you stay the course in the pursuit of your dreams too:
What’s The Alternative?
As I was seriously contemplating getting a “normal” job, I thought about what that could be. I had always liked beauty. Maybe I could work on a beauty counter somewhere? When I was little I wanted to be a teacher. Should I go back and complete my qualifications? I’m obsessed with books. Maybe I should get an internship in a publishing house and see how that goes?
While all these options seemed fun in the short term, I knew deep down they wouldn’t satisfy me in the long run. I don’t have the patience to put up with annoying customers. I find the traditional school environment too stifling. And could I really help other people publish their books without wishing every time I were in their place?
Don’t get me wrong. There’s no shame in keeping a “normal” job while you’re working on your side hustle. It’s actually a good idea. Knowing you have a way to cover all your bills will give you freedom and safety to pursue what you’re really meant to do.
But when you give up on your dream for the safety of a “normal” job? That’s when life becomes bleak. I had been down this road before. It’s a road that leads to depression. Numbing the pain with food (or, worse, alcohol and drugs). Regrets.
Security is the death of the soul. Keep living. Dream on.
Related: Your Fear Is Boring
Tough Times Are Teachers
It would be wonderful if we could learn every lesson the easy way, without pain and sorrow. Sadly, that’s not how it works.
Tough times are the best teachers. They test what you’re capable of. Force you to get out of that comfort zone you like so much and try new things. Challenge you to grow up and take responsibility for your life.
It wasn’t until I drove myself into a corner that I started to improve my pitches. When I thought getting a gig would be easy, I barely put any effort in it. But when money started to run low and it was make or break time, I analyzed every single word I wrote in the pitch, my body language during meetings with potential clients and the way I presented myself and my work. I’d figure out what I needed to improve, tweaked it and tried again. I ended up getting 3 clients in the same week!
Don’t compare yourself to others
Comparison is the thief of dreams. It’s so easy, especially in this filtered Instagram era, to look at what other people are doing and think they’re easily accomplishing everything they set their mind to while you struggle for every crumb you get. It makes you feel like a failure.
Don’t even go there. Comparisons are a waste of time, and not just because they make you feel bad about yourself. The truth is that everyone is on a journey of their own. We all have our own unique path in life, our own dreams and goals and our own struggles in getting there (FYI: just because they’re not posting their hassle on IG, doesn’t mean they have it easy).
And so, when you fall into the comparison trap, you may be tempted to give up your dreams for good or to swap your dreams for someone else’s. Both will only lead you into a downward spiral of pain and regrets.
Instead focus on your own journey. On your skills. On your dreams. Every day, do something that brings you a little closer to them. If you put in the work, you’ll get there. At your own pace.
Making your dreams come true isn’t a race. It’s a calling.
Knock On Every Door
Is there anything more disheartening that having a door slam shut in your face – or not open at all?
You’re applying to thousands of jobs. Sending your portfolio to a gazillion clients. Pitching your idea to every investor you can find. But all you hear is a big fat NO.
After a few times, you start wondering if they’re right. If no one wants to hire you, work with you or publish your book, then you and your work simply aren’t good enough. The rejections hurt too much. You want to give up so the pain will stop.
Keep going. Knock on every single door you can find. It doesn’t matter how many people say no to you, one day someone will give you the chance to prove your worth and turn your dream into a reality.
Even Agatha Christie was continually rejected for 5 years before a publisher took a chance on her. The rest is history. Can you imagine what the world would have missed out on if she had quit after 3 months?
So don’t let discouragement get the better of you. Keep knocking until the right door opens. When it does, it’ll make up for all your struggles.
Related: How To Know When To Quit Or Commit
You’re closer than you think
The sad truth is that most people never even try to make their dreams come true. You’re here. You’ve taken your first step. Maybe your second, third and fourth too.
This alone makes you closer to reaching your dreams than you realise. You’re already in the arena, fighting for what you want. There’s not that much competition there.
All you have to do now is analyze your approach, figure out what’s working and what isn’t, tweak accordingly and persevere. You’re almost there.
Imagine how it will feel when you’ve reached your goals. The satisfaction you’ll feel when all your hard work pays off. The confidence you’ll get when you realise what you’re truly capable of. The happiness when you see the smiles on the face of your loved ones.
You’ve got this, gorgeous.
Over to you now. Did you ever feel like giving up on your dreams and what pushed you to persevere? Share your stories in the comments below.