Dreaming Big (from a chronic underdreamer)

I read an article on underdreaming yesterday. It is nice to have a name for something that I have always put down to a lack of ambition or a shit imagination. What shall I do? Oh I don’t know, whatever comes along… What’s the dream? Best not think about that because there is nothing worse than the gnaw of disappointment. Oh yes, apart from the sticky shame of failure or the anticipated humiliation of “who does she think she is…”

Apparently this is not unusual.

In a post entitled ‘Overcoming Underdreaming’, Lissa Rankin lists seven “barriers to dreaming big”, almost all of which I can identify with in some way or another. There’s the practical thing (“I’d like to be a journalist but, really, it’s a declining industry and I should have made my mark a long time ago, plus I just can’t see a logical way in….”); the undeserving thing (“because who am I, really, to come up with the next big thing and, should I actually make something magic happen, would I spend the next year waiting to be caught out”); and, yes, I’m still a little hung up on “but what will everyone else think”. I tend to be impressed when people stretch themselves but, for some reason, the same does not seem to apply if I flip it.

Oh dear.

I could drill deep down into the origins of this condition (a stinging rejection at 12 that still feels red-faced hot; the echo of schoolgirl bitchiness; a tiring uphill crawl towards self worth) but I am far more interested in the fact that underdreaming seems reversible –

And, it starts with practicing dreaming big.

Sounds easy?

I have had a half finished post sitting in my drafts folder for the past 6 months. It is called ‘Shooting for the stars’ and tapers off at “and, so, if I was to shoot for the stars then I would…..”

Maybe not.

But then that doesn’t normally put me off….

So, in the interests of experimentation, I am going to start flexing that dreaming big muscle, as recommended. I have roped in a dreaming big buddy, pledged to dream regularly and, although I feel a little bashful, am going to see how high I can aim –

Global entrepreneurship, madcap adventures and change the world book writing, here I come… 😉

– because there is nothing more frustrating than realising that you are standing in your own way. Nothing more disempowering than having a great idea – and then smashing the excitement before it’s had time to bloom. Nothing more depressing than dumbing down your dreaming and then looking back, ten years later, and wishing that you’d shot for the stars, because you might just have acheived your wildest dreams –


6 responses to “Dreaming Big (from a chronic underdreamer)

  1. 100% agree. My Nan always said I had a book inside me… Though I can see not time nor topic I will get there! X

    • I hope so 🙂 And I’m sure you will. Maybe another way to combat underdreaming is to take on board what others say – not in a “they said I should” kind of way, but because sometimes our sense of our limitations can be surprisingly off course. xx

  2. Hi Melissa,

    This is a really great post and resonates with me, too. I have struggled to decide what it is I would like to do with my life since being a teenager, or even earlier. I can remember wanting to be a vet’s assistant when I was small… until I realised there’d be blood. But that’s as ambitious a point in time as I can remember.

    I think a lot of it comes from other people trashing my dreams, or telling me that they weren’t possible for varying practical reasons. As such, I’ve struggled to trust my own judgement. I’ve done with my life what other people suggested for me, and it’s never really led to happiness. My imagination, which was brilliant as a child, has kind of faded into the background and I struggle to access it. It’s like a huge block is in the way.

    Now, at 27, after years of therapy and work on myself following my ED, I am getting to a place where I think I can start to re-discover my dreams. I have some little dreams (to have my own place – I move on Monday!); medium-sized dreams (to get married, to possibly have a child, to own my own house). It’s the bigger dreams I struggle to even articulate.

    I feel stupid even voicing them, especially as I am currently as blocked as can be from achieving them, but I do want to be a writer. I want to get paid from my work, work from home and raise a family. Even if it’s just the cat. I have a little more faith it is possible having begun running. I’m already a runner; why can’t I consider myself a writer, even if it’s just writing in my journal?

    Reading this, I plan to let myself dream a little more and explore what it is that makes me tick.

    • I have roped in a lovely friend and pledged to share my dreams with her regularly which I think will help. I’ve also taken on some suggestions and tried to stop listening to that negative voice. I wonder if that would help you dream big too? Did you follow the link through – it looked like a really useful site and I’ll definitely be going back. Dream big – I think it’s how we change our worlds 🙂

  3. There are no limits to dreams and I guess if there are you can dream them being overcome. If anything, underdreaming (or lack of imagination/shit ambition!) is crazier than having wild, farfetched, extremely ambitious dreams – everything began as an outlandish dream, really…

    Keep on dreaming and following your imagination. Dream big… dream epic! 😀

    • Yes – you might be right about that. Seven impossible things before breakfast and all that! Going for some epic dreaming! 🙂

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