Buying Someone Else's Dream
Someone posted a link about wearing a beauty uniform to my Facebook wall and before I knew it, I was in an all-out rant. On Facebook. Which is generally better to avoid. However, as it was my sister-in-law I knew she could handle it.
This minimalism trend, which appealed to me at first, has started to grate on me; probably because it’s gone from one principle that you apply to your life to the principle you apply to your life. Everything gets filtered through the words, “capsule, spark, joy and thirty-three” and before you know it, you find yourself believing that joy is only possible if you follow this line of thinking.
It’s actually a good line of thinking to consider. The article referenced the way North Americans are drowning in possessions, which is true, and said that successful people choose to wear a uniform, which I found to be a gross overstatement. But the fact remains, most of us have stuff cluttering our minds and houses.
ONE THING FIRST
I have to take issue with this idea that clothing is success. As if you can just find that magical bean and wear it every day and bam! Sucesss will come to you. So Steve Jobs and Obama live this way, okay, are you or I either one of those people? No, we are our own people with our own row to hoe. It’s a topic I’d like to talk about a little more, the way we try on other people’s dreams and lifestyles like an ill-fitted piece of clothing.
Success comes through its usual channel: hard work. What you choose to wear every day is secondary.
What we choose to wear is absolutely important, because it’s an expression of who we are inside. That means, the expression starts with knowing ourselves and what we actually like. If there’s one thing that successful people all share, it’s clarity and the hard knocks of failures that got them to clarity. Because they know who they are and what they’re going for, it’s easier to narrow down what they’re going to wear, to develop their “uniform” of sorts. I personally prefer to call it a signature look.
Confused people fill their closets with things that aren’t actually something that fits their personality, lifestyle, or “like” category. I’ve been guilty of this one for most of my life, and until I took the time to clarify who I was and what fit that identity, buying clothes was a guessing game. It still is somewhat, but I’m much better at using my core values to guide what will actually serve and <cough> bring me joy.
Are you buying someone else’s dream?
Not, are you buying into someone else’s dream because that refers more to only professional, work-related stuff and this is a much larger topic. This one is us mooching off someone else’s dream because it looks lovely and it’s harder work developing our own. We do this all the time with Instagram, TV, and Pinterest. We think, “wow, look at the adorable tiny home, surrounded by those huge, gorgeous redwoods, out back in the middle of nowhere where they had to drop materials with a helicopter! Look at their kids with their one wooden toy, looking happy and cute. I like how simple that looks, I want that.”
Someone else’s dream can spark ours, but it’s only a spark.
In reality what we’re doing is looking at a feeling or moment and wishing to capture that in a lifestyle. Never really works, by the way, because kids still cry, you can’t attend a spontaneous outdoor concert with friends because you live in the boon docks, and huh, guess women still get periods in Instagram life.
To really find our own dream life we have to find something that we will still like or believe in when life is crappy, and then, ohmergersh, we have to build it. As in build. As in, work hard and get dirty for it. As in, go through inconvenience for it. Since work is something my culture identifies with, let’s apply this to professional dreams for a moment (and let me quickly insert that I hope we dream about more than our jobs).
A dream is only as good as the work we put into it, and someone else’s dream is something that we should choose to invest into, not pass off as our own. For example, it’s perfectly fine to work for someone else. I personally prefer it, finding that in business I like to help other people get their dreams off the ground and get paid for it; it’s my sweet spot. For someone else, it may be a store, or product line, or work they’ve always wanted to get into.
We’ve been sold a line about the American Dream and more recently, have swallowed that we can do anything. Which is true in that we should have the opportunity to choose from a wider range, but we should choose something/s. We can choose anything, we can’t do everything. Feeling like we need to dream big actually paralyzes us because we confuse dreaming with doing.
The millennial culture is shallow right now, by which I mean we’re not flaky people, but we skim over the surface of everything instead of digging in doing a few things well or perhaps we do choose, but without much thought or practical experience. We’re sold the line that we have to go to college to be anybody, so we go to college and probably study something that doesn’t excite us or make a difference in our lives.
Here’s the thing. To make a difference anywhere else we have to make a difference in our own lives first.
I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s like not being able to give love truly until you accept it, and vice versa. It’s symbiotic. To make a difference in the lives of other people we make a difference in our own. In work, relationships, hobbies, discipline, education, lifestyle, and lots more. We live for ourselves and we live for other people. No one can deny that we have a responsibility to make choices that ultimately guide our trajectory, and yet, if we only live to benefit our own trajectory we’ll fall flat. We need both.
Once we are living a life that we actually want we can truly build the closet of our dreams. Which is of course one tiny, tiny (and if you’re me) interesting side-effect of the clarity of knowing who we truly are.
In all this, remember that there is always space to grow, develop and change. When I’m 80 I rather expect to be a flamboyant dresser, much unlike my sedate and dark-colored 20s. It’s the fun of living and dreaming, you get to come up with whatever you want and decide whether or not to make it happen.
P.S. Photo up top by Remy Baudouin