By Tiffany A. Potter
This is what I have learned the hard way, dreams are scary to people who have never been taught how to, or given permission to, think big. Whether they were never afforded the luxury of dreaming of their ideal life because circumstances forced them into a type of “survival mode” or they never had the support of living the life they wished; imagining how fantastic it would be to go forth in the direction of one’s soul is a scary thought for those on the outside watching someone boldly create their reality. Jealousy and envy tend to be the ugly little monsters that come out to play when someone close to you is invited into your dreams, your inner circle.
Life is complex and so are people. Part of me understands that people operate from the only place they know how to in the present moment and that grace and understanding must be extended. But, the other part of me, the part closely connected to my spirit, becomes tiresome of making concessions for everyone else’s bad behavior. I become fiercely protective of my journey, and I remind myself that I have a choice in the energy I allow into my life and I will go forth being selective. If a person can’t show up for me with kindness and love, acceptance of all of me (including my dreams), and the ability to be strong for me when the pursuing of my life takes unexpected turns, then you don’t get the privilege of being in my life wholly. The invitation into my most sacred world has been revoked and you are officially kept at an arm’s length. The trust has been broken.
Here is the challenge: I struggle every day to reconcile how to keep the walls up but the gate open to my heart. The universe loves declarations of our hopes and dreams, but our soul requires us to be selective with whom we share our dreams and desires within an attempt at our own version of self-preservation.
When I started my business, I had these dreams and visions of changing the world for people with disabilities. From the most genuine and authentic place in my being, I knew that this mission was my “lane.”
It was where I belonged. It was where I felt most comfortable, most at peace and most at home. Everything else I had done prior to this was in preparation for this purposeful calling. I had a specific idea of how I was going to do this (after all, no one starts a business with a vague outline), but in the last five years my business had ebbed and flowed as all living things that grow and mature do. I have sacrificed, I have cried, I have lost sleep, I have lived in the land of my own self-doubt, I have been broke and I have been scared. But never have I waivered on my mission. Also, in the last five years I have heard it all from people who think their opinions are worthy of being spewed at me.
I have heard everything from “You never finish anything” (never mind that I am the first person in my family to graduate from college, mind you) to “You just like the idea of the title and being ‘president’ of something” (I assure you, if a title and my ego were the only things that drive me in this world I would never put myself through the rollercoaster of owning my own business). Other gems of wisdom range from passive aggressiveness to eye rolling, to talking behind my back, and my absolute favorite is dead silence followed by a snicker and some snarky comment like “Oh, that’s all you want to do?”
Every dream is valuable to the dreamer, whether one succeeds or fails is all part of one’s own personal journey and, if we’re lucky enough, they give us a ticket to go along for the ride. That ticket gives us V.I.P. backstage access to witnessing a dream become a reality and change the world. Every song that moves us is the manifestation of first someone’s creative idea. Every Mona Lisa, every space shuttle launch, every March on Washington, every tale of two cities, the cure for Polio or Apple iPhone is the result of the someone’s crazy, it-can’t-be-done, guess-what-that-guy is trying to do, radical dream. And it seems that often, only when someone has “made it,” do people declare that they have always been a part of the dream team, sing their praises or say something like, “I always knew you could do it.”
My loves, protect the hell out of your dreams. Until you can trust that someone really loves you unconditionally, will show up for you when you might need a bit more encouragement at times, can be rational when you’re emotional from things not happening fast enough or will celebrate your successes instead of secretly (or not so secretly) feel better about themselves when you trip and fall, protect them. Require that those who you share your love and life with not be perfect, but be loving, supportive, genuine, authentic and gentle instead.
My businesses, and my dreams, are the best things that have ever happened to me. Because of them I have become more of myself, more of a risk-taker, more fearless, more empathetic, more supportive to other dreamers and an all-around better human being. So to anyone who has something negative and unsupportive to say about the things that have made me happy, I implore you to keep them to yourself. Seriously, keep that shit to yourself.
Tiffany is an entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and change agent. Find her at www.TiffanysTake.com and Instagram: tiffanys_take