You have dream, a goal — there’s something you want to do, and you really want to do it. Foolishly you’ve just confided your dream to someone, thinking that you’re sharing an aspiration,…
Instead of encouraging you, your confidant works to convince you that you can’t do it — before you’ve even tried, much less proven anyone right or wrong. Their argument isn’t that “it can’t be done”, but that “it can’t be done by you.”
Their reasons for “you can’t” will vary, but not by much: too young, too old, too stupid, no university degrees, no proper documentation, no officially sanctioned training, no third-party validation, wrong sex, wrong era, wrong politics, wrong ideology, etc, so on and so forth.
Sadly for the nay-sayers, these aren’t even their own words — they can only parrot their nay-saying predecessors and hope it works for them, too,…
… but it’s nothing that a growing child, or any student of any discipline for that matter, ever needs to hear.
From my earliest days such dire and doom-filled prognostications have been flung at me by all and sundry — by family, friends, teachers, employers, and by complete strangers, deluded enough to believe they owned authoritative power and/or deep knowledge on the subject of me.
Why were they so certain, first that I would fail, and second that I must be protected from my failures?
“You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time,
and build your wings on the way down.”
~ Ray Bradbury ~
When I proved steadfast in my belief in myself, in my own abilities — and in my desires to at least try — they switched tactics. Their nagging arguments were now couched in passive-aggressive terms: “Oh, you don’t want to do that.”
How can anyone possibly know what I want better than I know it?
Sometimes the sabotaging nail in the tire is a stunned and incredulous (and often angry), “Whaddya wanna go and do that, for?!”
I shake my head, also incredulously. Have they no hunger for adventure? Have they no yearnings to excel? Have they been so thoroughly brain-washed into complacency that they no longer have any ambition to direct their own lives? And all to the point that they now feel compelled to muck about with my life?
Have they forgotten what they wanted to be when they grew up?
Few things have the power to provoke me into making a big, fat liar out of another person faster than the noise of “you can’t.”
Instead of this false proclamation deploying itself as the intended impediment — and metaphorically unmanning me — it’s received as a challenge. The gauntlet is down. The gauntlet is so down.
Guess what — I love proving these people wrong. Again, and again.
When you find yourself in a bucket full of crabs who insist that you’re a crab, too, and demand that you share their doom, know this — you will have to fight your way out.
They’ll yell about hurt feelings. Theirs, not yours. Never yours.
It’ll be a hard-won freedom. But when freedom will not be given it must be seized. With both hands, and held onto with animal ferocity.
These days, instead of merely reacting, I pause to wonder why they’re so damned determined to prevent me even trying. I wonder that they want me to shelve my dreams. I wonder that they expect me to be happy with mediocrity. And I have to wonder what darkness lies at the heart of their campaigns against my endeavors.
Have they no dreams of their own, to protect and pursue? Gods, how sad. But fear is their tragic burden, not mine. I’ve got things to do, and for spite’s own sake and with that gauntlet in mind I will press on all the harder.
Once all is said, done and wept over, I’d rather be a failure than a coward.