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To My Sons: Dream

Sheridan Taylor

In which our hero encourages his sons, and you, dear reader, to face fear and pursue excellence.

Here’s the truth about chasing your dreams. Chasing your dreams can be frightening and lonely. It can be ugly. Dealing with doubt, setbacks, and losses is tough enough. But you may also lose romantic relationships and friendships. People will give up on you if they can’t convince you to give up on yourself.

Some of them will be douchebags who mean to cause you  harm, but most aren’t. Most are just unable to be courageous. Our brains are designed to protect us from danger, and it can see the unknown as dangerous, if we don’t train it to seek curiosity rather than fear. Very few people do that. When you choose to chase your dreams, other people will be scared of it. They’ll be scared of the unknown and they’ll be scared of your threatening their self-images and endangering their beliefs about how the world works. So they’ll lash our or run away from you. Their loss.

This is one of the challenges you’ll face when chasing your dreams; the mob of the scared. When things get rough and you keep hitting setback after obstacle after failure, the mob will be there, urging you to quit. Urging you to sink back into the safe mediocrity they aspire to. Your brain will fuck with you, too. Tell you you’re the crazy one and the mob’s right. Tell you the easy path is the correct path.

Maybe it’s right. Except it can’t be, right? If you take the easy path you won’t achieve the dream you’ve been chasing. This is when you teach yourself to be courageous. You find the strength to continue by looking inside yourself and seeing what you’re prepared to suffer for and how much.

Teddy Roosevelt was right when he said the judgment of the armchair critic is meaningless. It’s the man in the sands of the arena, bleeding, sweating, filthy, and continuing to strive, whose opinion matters. Nobody has ever achieved greatness without struggle and hearing the jibes and jabs of those who choose to be weak.

Don’t listen to the weak. Don’t judge them too harshly, either. They may learn from your example. Both your example of courage and of compassion. Everyone has been mediocre until they met someone who showed them they could be more. Everyone has quit or surrendered until they learned they could do better. You can be that person for those who laugh at you now. They may even decide to listen to the voice in their heart saying, “strive” because they see you doing it. Your refusal to follow the worn-out path and be your best authentic self may just inspire someone else to do the same.

Constant energy isn’t going to be the answer at all times and in all things. There’ll be times when the door is closed and you can’t open it. Don’t waste your time and energy staring at a shut door. Look for another door. If there’re none at the moment, don’t waste your time kicking at locked doors. If there’s nothing you can do, do nothing. Watch, wait, and strike when the opportunity presents itself. There’ll always be other chances and more opportunities.

Failure only happens when we quit. Not trying only makes us live with regret and shame. You don’t need to carry that shit. It’s not helpful. I love you.