“If you’re looking for your calling, remember you’re not looking for a career answer. You’re looking to fall in love. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see how you’ll make money by collecting sea shells or petsitting. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to start. Just do something you LOVE. What you love has energy, and that energy activates new insights, clarities, directions, and next steps.” ~Tama J. Kieves
On the way home from work tonight, I was pondering ways to tell the difference between the voices of the dreamer, the realist, and plain old fear when they speak up in my head. It seems like it should be obvious: the dreamer is the voice that encourages me to do whatever it takes to go after my dreams, the realist is the one that tries to make sure I keep my feet on the ground so I can pay the bills, and fear … well, fear is just scared of any and everything and usually thinks the wisest course of action is never to change anything at all.
In reality, though, the voices aren’t always quite so clear. It’s so easy for fear to masquerade as the voice of reason, telling me that it’s the realist talking when fear is the ventriloquist behind the scenes. How often does fear keep me from reaching for what is truly realistically possible because fear is telling me that anything more than some level of safety is not “realistic” to even aim for?
The dreamer can be even more elusive at times when I find that I’ve already cut my dreams down to what seems “realistic” before I even allow myself to dream them. I tell myself that I dream of being a writer but that it doesn’t matter what kind of writing it is. After all, freelance writing might be safer than writing a novel, and that’s close enough to a dream, right? I don’t really mean to aim for actually being a novelist, do I?
So, how do I tell the difference? How do I know when it’s the dreamer or the realist or fear? Is the realist even a true voice, or is that always a mask for fear? What is reality? So many questions, so few good answers.
In the quote at the top of this blog, which was waiting for me on my Facebook wall when I arrived home from work today, Tama gives a clue about how to recognize the true dreamer when that voice shows up. If I find myself thinking about a career answer or how I’ll make money, that means the realist is the one doing the talking. It’s not the dreamer. The dreamer is only about falling in love; that voice should only be talking to me about what I love to do. As soon as it veers into the territory of income and career, it’s the realist even if it claims to be the dreamer.
I still don’t have any clear answers about how to tell the difference between the realist and fear, though. I’m still not sure the realist is even a valid voice. That’s not to say that there is no value in being realistic enough to make sure my feet are firmly on the ground, but that also does not mean that the realist is not still an alter ego of fear. After all, fear isn’t always bad. Fear can motivate me to do the things I need to do to keep myself safe: pay the bills, lock the doors, don’t walk alone in dangerous parts of town at night.
So how do I get the dreamer who is focused on what I love to negotiate with the realist and the fear to find a way to create an income and a career from things I love to do? I think the first step is to let the dreamer really dream—dream with no limits at all. Once I know deep in my soul what that dream looks like and feels like, then I am at a point where I can start the negotiations. Until I’ve fully dreamed, though, any attempt at negotiation is not starting from the right place. It’s already shifted too far toward safety and not enough toward love before I’ve even started.
Tama makes it sound so easy, but I know she walked this same path herself. I’m glad she shared it in her book This Time I Dance! It gives me hope that if someone else can find a way to follow her dreams and still make a living, maybe I can do the same thing. I just have to remind myself where I need to start.
I start with dreaming. I start with falling in love. I start with what brings me joy. There will time enough for fear and reality later.