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Is It Selfish to Pursue Your Dreams?

by danne

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Have you ever held back from doing something you REALLY wanted to do because you thought it would negatively impact the people you care about?

Have you postponed something you know would bring you joy and fulfillment, because you thought it would take time or money or resources away from your family?

Have you ever thought “It’s selfish of me to chase my dreams right now”?

For many years, thoughts like these were the reason I didn’t pursue activities that I really wanted to do and goals that I really wanted to achieve. For many years, it felt like noble sacrifice. Perhaps, for a time, it was indeed noble. But as time went on, and my circumstances changed – my children grew, my mother passed away, my life became “comfortable” – the “reasons” slowly morphed into hollow excuses for me not “showing up” authentically in the world.

Ironically, as I held onto these excuses – that I was avoiding the fulfillment of dreams in the “service” of my loved ones – the “sacrifice” began to manifest as resentment, rather than love.

Vulnerable and downright painful examination of my “resentment” revealed that my so-called “sacrifice” was no longer noble (if it ever was), but had become a petty excuse for avoiding my fears – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of looking like an idiot or revealing that I’m really just a goofball pretending to be cool. All of which, I’m sure you’ll recognize, are simply my ego at work, trying to keep me “safe”.

Since “She Played It Safe” wasn’t really the epitaph I was aiming for, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and dust off a few dreams I’d almost forgotten. A few experiences I had been “protecting” my loved ones from:

         My son walked into a friend’s house recently, saw a book lying on the coffee table and told his friend, “Hey, my mom wrote that book!”.

         When my youngest son was inducted into the National Honor Society last Fall, his mom was a keynote speaker at the ceremony.

         My sister claims that seeing me go after my dreams inspired her to pursue her own of becoming a health coach.

         And according to my husband, pursuing my dreams changed me profoundly from being someone who “watched” to someone who “does”, from someone who lived vicariously through reading, fantasizing about others’ seemingly perfect lives, to someone who actively creates what I desire in my own life. Which version would YOU rather be married to?

If you’ve been thinking that pursuing your dreams would be a selfish thing to do, ask yourself honestly who you’re truly protecting. If it’s you, what’s the real cost of playing it safe, and is “safe” a word that excites you? If it’s your loved ones, what exactly are you protecting them from? Flip the question and ask yourself instead:

               “What would my loved ones be inspired to do if they saw me pursuing my dreams?”

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