Sometimes, other people won't like it.
You've got this song inside of you, and you're flinging the high notes out left, right, and centre, because you're excited, and you just want the world to be excited with you. And some people will be - they'll twirl you around and add a splash of colour to the dream you thought was already perfect, and it's so good. Other times, though, people will frown at you as you pass by. Or they'll yank you to a halt and tell you to sing under your breath, for goodness' sake. Or, worst of all, they snicker behind their hands when you skip by, and it turns the glorious thumping of your heart within you into a dud, dud,
There are a couple of reasons for this, I think. Sometimes it's because people just don't understand what it's like to have a dream, if they've never been allowed to have one for themselves. Sometimes your dream just looks very different from theirs, and they get confused. And sometimes, I think they see the hugeness of your dream, and it scares them because it's so powerful. They don't know what to expect from you, they can't control you, and so they default and try to shut you down.
Don't let them.
At first, it didn't even bother me. I let it roll, like water off a duck's back, and I kept my head high, because I knew that my dream was good, and important, and right. I have the support of my parents and closest friends, and most of all, I feel like this is the place where God wants me.
But you know what has started to happen? After months and months and months of people asking the same polite, sometimes hurtful questions, tilting their heads at exactly the same angle, sometimes smiling indulgently, sometimes asking if I really think I'll even finish the whole degree, I started to wilt. I began to dread talking about my hopes, plans, my beautiful little dream, because I was tired of listening to the faint "hiss" of air as it deflated a little farther. So I started answering in roundabout, vague, general ways, because people were less inclined to ask questions if I said I was "waiting to see what the future will bring" or "prayerfully considering my options". But that didn't feel right, either... hiding away the real core of who I am; smothering what I care about just because I was afraid of what people would think.
So here's where I am now - and here's my challenge to you. Let's bring out those dreams again - let's dust off the hopes hiding under our bed, and puff a little extra air into those deflated balloons. Let's keep singing, and smile at the people who shake their heads. I'm going to talk about youth ministry, and how much I love the high school students at my church. I'm going to tell people with my chin up that I'm getting an English degree, and yes I do intend to finish. I'm going to be honest when people ask what I love, and tell them that I write books, even though I'm only 19 years old. And no, I don't think that's too young. I'm going to start standing up for my dreams again, and I want to encourage you to do the same.
If no one has ever given you permission to dream something a little out-of-the-ordinary before, let me be the first to do so. I firmly believe that God has created each one of us with unique talents and hopes and opinions, and it only makes sense to me that each of our dreams is a completely unique combination of all the little parts that make us up. If no one has ever told you that you don't have to strive for the normal, the expected, I'm telling you now. Whatever is on your heart - whatever makes you want to stand up and do something - that thing is important because it arouses something in you that nothing else can call out. Find that thing - I promise, it's there - and fight for it.
That doesn't mean your dream will look like mine - and that doesn't mean you have to turn your dream into a career, or a lifestyle, or anything else. You don't even have to have a dream that's crazy - maybe yours is simple, and sweet, and ordinary. There's no recipe for dreams, and if that means you get your English degree and become a teacher, than I think that's just awesome, and I think that your dream is just as worth discovering and cultivating and fighting for as anyone else's. Your dreams, no matter what they are, are intrinsically important - and they're worth fighting for.
What are you dreaming of? Are your hopes for the future wild and crazy, or sweet and every-day? I'd love to hear about them.