Your Dreams Suck
I recently had a conversation with someone who happens to be dancer. He was a nice guy and he has massive dreams to make it in Hollywood. I wanted to laugh at him, like I do with many aspiring artists that come to my hometown thinking they’re gonna make it big. He uprooted his life from Boston, dropped out of school and moved to Glendale to work at a run down asian cuisine and hopes that he’ll make it big.
Your Dreams Suck
Why did I want to laugh at him? He was the fifth person I had come across that week that had moved from somewhere to LA only to be another failing (he wasn’t a failure, just misguided; I’ll come back to this), starving artist in Los Angeles. Unless you have well off parents who are willing to fund your existence until you “make it”, I have yet to meet a single person actually succeed. From all these artists type, I have met only two that actually live off their work or, at the very least do something about following their dreams, however, dreams themselves are the pitfall trap. I’m consistently guilty of walling into it as well.
Dreams are a terrible thing to have. We all “dream” of having a big house and nice cars. We all “dream” of having the world live in peace and acceptance. We all “dream” of having a little cabin in the woods away from the city. We all “dream” of… something! Me? I dream of many things. Most of the time, it’s being able to travel and see all the things that the world has to offer, but therein lays the issue: it’s simply a dream. When was the last time you actually thought about manifesting your dream?
Success Comes From Hard Work
This is a misinterpreted statement, I believe. A lot of people have lost the way of the American dream for a number of reasons, hell, sometimes redefining what the American dream is. For some, it’s owning a home in the suburbs with a labrador in the front yard. For others, it’s owning their own business and for most, it’s being completely debt free. It’s great to have aspirations, but what did you do today to make sure that you’re one step closer to them? That’s where I think the phrase, “Hard work pays off,” is completely misinterpreted.
Let’s assume the following the scenario: you’re the best employee of a retail store. You’re always on time, you always work overtime when asked and you not only do your job, you go above and beyond expectations. You clean more than you should, are great at upselling and are loved by customers. You’re the perfect employee, but, this isn’t what you had in mind for the rest of your life. You dream of being a songwriter! Artist after artist comes to you for songs of soul and mind. You’re known among the industry as the song whisperer and dream of being invited to all sorts of events, writing songs on some yacht in Italy while being able to see your kids graduate from college debt free.
The following question remains: you’re such an awesome worker at work, but who are you working hard for? The boss or yourself? Hard work pays off right, but who are you working so hard for? To impress a couple of people who could replace you within a week, or for yourself?
Time To Wake Up
It’s a beautiful dream, isn’t it? I mean, whatever your dream might be. Mine is all sorts of weird and I just made that one up, but it’s one of many that every single human being has, but only very few will actually accomplish their dreams and guess what happens when they reach that point? They dream bigger yet again. The most common thing I have seen is that all my companions have amazing and wonderful dreams, but do little to nothing to accomplish them. Most are simply “thinking” about how to accomplish their dreams when in reality, they’re simply looking for the easiest way around eating an elephant. Sadly, there’s only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.
A lot of work needs to be done. Some do less and some do more, but the question remains: what did you do today that placed you one step closer to your dreams? For me, it’s elephant eating. There’s a lot of data crunching, data gathering, super boring things to read and do. Sometimes, I’m so frustrated with it that I refuse to touch what I need to do for days at a time, but then I think back to my question: what did I do today? I’m quick to pick up a market report after that or open up my laptop to get some data crunching going.
Artists Will Fail
Unless your parents are funding your art, you’re going to fail unless you make some changes. For my dancer friend? I told him he was already a failing artist. Why did I tell him such a horrible thing? It’s not something you tell someone, but that’s much more helpful than, “Oh that’s great!” with a fake smile. He moved all of his life from Boston, not knowing a soul out here, hoping to make it big in LA. Unless he’s already exceptionally talented, he’s already set on course for failure as a dancer. He works, pays bills and makes rent on time. He’s not living his dream and he told me that he’s gone to a couple auditions. Again, how many people don’t already do that?
I don’t have infinite wisdom or all the answer, but I gave him advice anyways which he took to heart. Don’t associate with anyone else other than other dancers. Where are they at? Where do they hang out? Who do they know? What are their skills? If you’re the best among your associates, guess what you have to do? Make new friends that are better than you and match their skills. Same applies for music, painters, designers, sculptors, etc.
The Business of Business
If you’re an artist of any kind, from writer to musician, you’re a businessperson. You can’t just create and hope someone will pick you up. You’re better off working in retail and using your checks to buy lottery tickets. You need to improve. Network. Refresh. What makes you different? What makes you new? Who do you know that’ll help you along the way? My dancer friend? He wasn’t doing any of these things. When I asked him when was the last time he danced, he kinda froze. He hadn’t done a single gig since high school. He hadn’t really practiced much and he admitted he wasn’t staying fit. For a dancer, their body is their art and he wasn’t taking care of it.
He didn’t hate me when I called him a failing artist. He thanked me. You know what other career track follows the same tract? Entrepreneurs. There’s thousands upon thousands of us and unless we work hard for ourselves, we’re not going anywhere. Some of us have a dreadful job while hoping we make it big with some large acquisition or become so popular that we become celebrities among the business world. Entrepreneurs and artists are not any different at all. We’re just selling something different, but we have the same dreams, to “make” it.
You’re Not Special
Sorry, but you’re not. I’m not. None of us “normies” are unless we’re trust fund babies, celebrity adoptees or royalty. Yes, you’re going to have to work hard and yes, you’re going to have panic attacks, total mental breakdowns, cry, sweat, hate and yell. The journey is a tough one and I’m surprised I haven’t gone off the handle yet. Every day, I punish myself by staying up late, either studying or working, but along the way, I have made many meaningful friends and relationships. I’ve had cries of laughter, smiles and kisses from the sun or soul. Many great people have inspired me along the way and I have done the same to others along my way to my dreams.
I’m still not there. I don’t know when I will be. It could be tomorrow or it could be in five years. Who knows? At least I know that I will reach my dream soon as long as I treat my dreams with respect and don’t get lost in them every day. It’s nice to dream, but it’s better to actually accomplish them.