what's keeping you from achieving your dreams // share your story

If you've been around the blog for a while, you probably know I enjoy writing introspective posts.  Some of them are more word vomit-y and others are carefully thought out, slowly crafted posts.  One of my favorite parts of those posts are the thoughts and comments you guys share in the comments section.  It always amazes me how much of my personal experience is mirrored by so many other people.  The best part of blogging is sharing life with other people and learning that we're all in this together.  We're not alone.  I wanted to read more about your guys' experiences, and also have a place for people to share their stories so other people can read them too.  I'm starting a journal prompt type link-up series so you guys can share your posts here!  I'm excited to see what posts you guys share.

I thought I'd get down and dirty for this first link up.  I had a realization a couple weeks ago about my personality.  I've always sort of known it about myself, but only recently did I have an "ah hah" moment realizing how it's been keeping me from achieving my dreams.

I crave approval.  It makes me feel valued and important.  It makes me feel worthy and fulfilled.  For most of my life I never really got a sense of the dark side of that part of me.  In a lot of ways that desire for approval has some good effects.  I always did great in school.  I worked hard and felt proud that I'd achieved high grades.  It made me happy to get rewarded for my hard work with accolades.  When I rode horses competitively I worked hard all year so I could win my classes during the summer horse show season.  I loved being able to stand up there with a big champion ribbon or trophy.  It was a visual representation of how hard I'd worked and everything I put into it.  My high school bedroom walls were literally covered with blue ribbons from horse shows.  In a lot of ways I feel like my experience when I was younger was a red herring.  I learned, unintentionally, to value myself based on my accolades.  Once I started getting into the "real world" the equation of hard, good work = recognition, didn't quite follow though the way it had in school and sports.   I remember working for minimum wage at a little coffee shop in college.  I did all I could to learn how to make espresso well, tried my best to keep the shop looking nice, and I still made the same wage as the girl I worked with who made terrible coffee and didn't care, and never cleaned up the shop.  In a way my hard work felt pointless and futile.  There was no opportunity for advancement, no room for the recognition I craved.

I work hard because I want people to see me as a person who works hard.  I would say that I work hard because it makes me feel good to work hard and do stuff, which it does, but at the same time I know that a large part of my pleasure comes from people recognizing that I do stuff.  I work hard because I want to advance in ability and position.  I was told all through school that that's how it works.  Do the work.   Do the work well.  Get an A+.  Repeat = success.  Success = value.

The problems with living this way are obvious, but one strange side affect of this is that I've realized I only do things well enough to impress other people.  Once I get feedback that I've done great work and that the person is impressed with it, I don't go beyond that.  I stall out.  I do well enough to sufficiently impress others and then slack off.  The problem is, I want so much more than to impress some people.  I have dreams that go beyond that.  I want to do stuff that exceeds that minor psychological goal of impressing a few people who give me positive feedback.  I have to make a shift from the carrot in front of me being other people's stamp of approval, to it being an actual goal I want to achieve.  Regardless of whether or not that goal will garner laurels of "wow, much impress, so amaze, very inspire, wow."

Where the rubber meets the road is where talent ends and hard work starts.  Stuff can come naturally but no one became a concert pianist on talent alone.  It's the hours of practice and hard work that get those people to their goals.  That bestselling author, that famous actor, that major blogger, that award winning doctor, they all put countless hours of work into making their dream happen.  It wasn't handed to them, it didn't happen overnight.  One piece of advice I like to remember is, "don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle or end."  It's easy to see the end goal and see people who are already there and get discouraged.  I have to constantly remind myself that I'm at a different place in my journey towards my goals.

Here’s how to participate:

 Write your own post on your own blog, answering the question: What is keeping you from achieving your dreams right now? Write it quick, don’t overthink it, just spill it all out, it can be pictures if you want, whatever. If you’ve already written one, feel free to link that up, too.

 Include a link in your post back to this post, so your readers can find others writing on the same topic. Feel free to use my photo up there in your post!

 Enter the link to your post (the actual post link, not just your blog link) into the link-up tool thing there below.

 Tell a few people about your post,  either through social media or talk about it with a friend over coffee.  Click around and visit a few of the other posts linked up, leave comments for each other, and feel comforted that kindred spirits aren’t as rare as we think!  We're all in this together.  There is strength in numbers!