Sometimes the Path to Your Dream is Lonely

This is a little departure from where this series was going, but it’s worth telling this part of the story.

Sometimes the path to your dream is just lonely.

When you start dreaming, it rocks other people’s boats. Maybe they don’t want you to change and grow. Maybe they wish they were chasing their own dream. And I hate to say it, but sometimes we just don’t like it when other people succeed.

When you start growing and realizing your dream and your passion, often other people just aren’t going to get it. You try and explain the spark that has caught your heart on fire, and they just look at you with a blank stare. Or worse yet, they roll their eyes.

You might think that as you are growing and finding your dream, your passion, your life’s meaning, that your friends and family would be your biggest supporters and cheerleaders. Sadly, that’s often the case. Maybe they just don’t get what you’re trying to do. Maybe they’ve seen you take on projects and not finish them. Maybe they’ve seen you jump in with both feet and fall on your face more than once. Sometimes they may even have a secret desire to see you fail. I really don’t think that most of our close circle are purposefully discouraging (and sometimes even shaming) when we are chasing our dreams. Or maybe some are that cruel. Or it might be that they are proud of you and are supportive, they just don’t verbalize it often.

Many of us find that our biggest supporters when we’re trying something new and finding our life’s meaning are acquaintances or even strangers. If our close circle can’t find it in themselves to be encouraging and supportive, then it benefits us to surround ourselves with people who will be our cheerleaders, or at the very least who are supportive and encouraging of our endeavors.

Lastly, sometimes chasing our dreams means moving out of our comfort zone. That might be a figurative move, such as changing our ways of relating to people or spending our time working towards our dream. Or it might actually be a physical move. Leaving your job. Starting a new job. Moving to another city, state, or even to another country.

So in the midst of the excitement and enthusiasm of finally following your dream and passion, you can have times where you feel very alone.

So what is the solution? No one wants to live a lonely life. I wish I could tell you I had an answer but I’m still figuring that out. Part of pursuing my dream has meant that I’ve moved thousands of miles away from my friends and family to a new city where I don’t know anyone other than my husband. As exciting as it is there are times when it’s really, really lonely. Here is what I know so far.

1. It’s OK to be lonely. I can’t deny that I’m feeling lonely, so I admit it. I can’t numb myself to it. I just have to admit, “Yes, I’m lonesome. I miss my friends and family.”
2. Stay connected to your support system as much as possible. Sometimes this may take more effort on your part because there is a natural tendency towards “out of sight, out of mind”. Continue to nurture the relationships that are important to you. Also take the initiative and text or call people – don’t just wait for them to contact you.
3. If people seem too busy or disinterested, don’t take it personally. If someone is not returning your emails or messages or texts it’s probably just because they have busy lives, too. Some people are just better at returning messages than others. You know how it is – in most relationships there’s usually one person who is more communicative than another. It doesn’t change when you’ve moved far away. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or that they’re not a good friend. It just means their communication style is different, or their lives are busy.
4. Seeking out a supportive circle. Find people with similar interests or who are pursuing similar passions. They will understand where you’re coming from and are more likely to be supportive with your endeavors. If you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, join exercise group or running team. If you’re a writer, take a class or join a writing group and connect with other people who are writing. If you’re starting a business, connect with other people who are a little further down the road from you so that you can learn from them. If you find it difficult to connect with these people in your city, the Internet is a great place to connect. My greatest support for starting to write again has come from other writers online.

That’s all I’ve got tonight.

Bless you, dreamers. We’re in this together.