Don’t Be So Scared To Follow Your Dreams


I’m scared to death.
I’m also scared of death.
I’m scared that, in my darkest moments, I am death, in some sense of the word.
Capable of destroying everything in my path, and sweeping the abandoned pieces under the rug before I fold my laundry and get back to the day’s to-do list.

I’m just trying to make sense of my desires and fears — but I suppose, aren’t we all at some level? I’ve tried and failed and tried again to compartmentalize the many things that make up life and simultaneously make no sense at all. The best place to start is shared experience. The things we can all kind of agree on to some extent. There are some fears that I feel are nearly universal, or at least relatable on some level like the fear that we won’t be accepted for who we are, even before we know who that truly is.

However, my fears go far beyond middle school insecurities. It seems that all of the best people are not only crazy, but they are crazy enough to stand out. Now, I’m not scared of being alone or holding an opposing belief on a subject. I’ve loved Star Wars since I was 5 and had a crush on Kurt Cobain for as long as I can remember, so as a hopeless romantic in love with both Luke Skywalker and a suicidal rock star, I accepted that the concept of “cool” had escaped me entirely. That’s not the scary part though, that is just life. However, I am frightened out of my mind that weird is no longer okay. Where a pill, or a pair of handcuffs, or a 9-to-5 job exist to wipe out the weird population, and stop anyone from following their heart in pursuit of their dreams, and that scares me.

I’m scared, not that I won’t fit in,
but that I won’t be allowed to stand out.
I’m scared as hell that there will come a time
Where I will be fixed the same way my cat was on his first birthday.
As if the world sees this new filter as a gift,
and me as an ungrateful brat on Christmas morning.

I’m scared to death of a society where we fix people, altering their perspectives so that they share a likeness with our own before setting them free to follow the paths we’ve carefully chosen for them. I’m scared because more often than not, people buy into this and consider it guidance, even going as far as calling it “wisdom.” I’m scared of what we believe in because I remain uncertain as to who we is and I’m nearly certain that unanimity does not exist when it comes to these beliefs.

I don’t scare easily. I do things that leave people exclaiming only that I’m lucky to be alive. While I agree, to a certain extent, that I am lucky to be alive, in a world that is so stifling in its expectations for the individual, I find that I’m often closer to death each morning that I silence my alarm clock. I consider myself a rather resilient person, and on good days I usually believe it, but it’s now a challenge to be myself at all. I am strong and I am worth it. Repeat twice daily. This daily practice has taught me that, if all else fails, and I’m not actually strong or worth it, that at least I’d make a convincing salesman.

But I’m scared of something you can’t see with the naked eye.
I’m scared because I realize those 12 words are enough.
Enough to lock me up in a white-walled crazy house for months.
A reminder that you can’t follow your heart,
If it means going a little crazy sometimes.

A bleak reminder that what the “get well soon” cards are really saying is that you don’t currently fit the expected molds of society, but we believe there is still hope. Luckily for you, we know just the right pill to remove all traces of your personality, quirks, and characteristics that were previously leading you astray. Be normal. Be like us, it’s the best thing. For yourself, and for the world. How sad that we spend so much time reading those inspirational posters clinging tightly to the walls no matter how many times we attempt to steal the sticky tack keeping them up.

These laminated signs tell us to “shoot for the moon,” because “even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” They tell us to follow our hearts sans doubt and fear, because even in failure, you’ll still find a decent enough alternative. But you don’t see those hanging up in college, and for good reason. On one hand, the no-nonsense vibe at college is intended to keep you focused as you pursue your chosen degree but it also serves, wrongly, to remind you that some dreams are worth giving up.

I’m scared every morning that I enter the double doors leading to my lectures.
I’m scared that it’s not okay to love art enough to pursue it in college.
I fear that enough people now believe that money equates to happiness,
So much so that I fear that I will find it in a book of facts in the near future.
I’m scared that much of fact is actually fiction.
And that everyone is abandoning his or her dreams in the name of these facts.

I guess I’ve reached a point where my hopes and dreams sound so much like wishful thinking that most people would categorize them as such. I remain confident that pursuing goals is far more productive than fighting a war against myself in trying to fit the molds I’m simply not cut out for. It feels as if I am the extra puzzle piece someone jokingly tossed in a five thousand piece puzzle to ensure that it will never bring someone the satisfaction of its completion. My only wish is this: to remain weird in a world where the majority of people still believe there is such thing as normal. That normal even exists. So much so that they criticize us for not being like them, something they will only realize long after it is too late.

I still cling tightly to the dreams I had as a child, though. It is my right, after all. I still believe that being an artist in New York City is as far-fetched as it is an attainable dream. I still believe people can change, and I still think that words have the power to change the way people see the world. I write because I refuse to believe that Slightly Stoopid was correct in singing, “This world is hopeless, but I love it anyways.” I am in love with this broken world, but as an outcast unable to fit into society’s mold, I still feel that the power of one is stronger than no power at all. I still think it is possible to make a difference. And sure I’m foolish to think that in a world where guns can surely solve a problem faster than I can craft a rational argument against violence, that I could alter it some how, but I also believe that it is foolish not to try. I am not trying to tell you that money doesn’t matter, or that pursuing a career in business isn’t reasonable. I’m simply trying to say that money should not be powerful enough to elicit fear, nor should it be capable of guiding your life path entirely. I’m saying the satisfaction of pursuing something you love will offer you a kind of happiness money can’t buy.

Regardless of my careful word choice, intended to imitate a tone of confidence,
I remain scared.
Scared that the people around me will die without ever experiencing true happiness,
I am scared to death that a day will come, sooner than later, when it’s no longer okay
to be blissfully weird, and content with your true self.
A day where I don’t have the choice to change, but when change is forced upon me.

Though I fear, with my entire heart, that I am correct, here’s to hoping I’m wrong,
Here’s to hoping that the words “stay weird” are never censored.
Because you’re all you have left.

So stay weird, while it is still legal.
Save yourself, while you still can.

featured image – Nicki Varkevisser