I went to the gym this morning — I think it’s Wednesday, which means I’ve been three-four straight days, which, well, fuck you and go me — and while there, I toggled between about six different Pandora stations across the course of an hour. I started with Passion Pit, because, well, fuck you and go me. I moved over to Kanye, then Macklemore, then Taylor Swift, then something called “Today’s Hits” which seemed to contain absolutely none of either, and finally over to Paramore. I got this “Looking Up” song, which I’ve heard before but didn’t completely remember at first, and this one part of it hit me.
It’s not a dream anymore. It’s worth fighting for.
This idea and logic stayed with me all the way through the subsequent shower, the acquisition of coffee, the mindless surfing of the Internet, the cereal eating, and the eventual resignation that I should probably get dressed and go to work at some point. Basically, I was thinking about this quote for close to 1.5 hours, and then periodically throughout the day as well.
Here’s what strikes me about it: I honestly think that’s how a lot of life arcs actually work. You have a big idea — essentially, a dream — about what you want to do with your time, or your money, or yourself, or some aspect of you. For a long time, it’s a dream. It’s far away and it’s untouchable and when you’re awake and in the day-to-day muck of it all, it seems completely not real.
But eventually, something happens — you save up enough money for a trip, or someone with financial power/a storefront likes your concept, or whatever it may be — and you transition from dream to reality, or at the very least, potential reality.
Once something has moved from “dream” to “potential reality,” it goes from amorphous/hard-to-grab to something worth fighting for.
That’s the entire arc of a ton of things.
Think about your relationship. Most people don’t wake up one day and decide to start dating their eventual significant other. Usually one person likes the other first, and there’s a flirting/courtship, or maybe there’s a series of missed chances, or whatever it is. Point is: for 1 person, at some point the idea is a dream. Eventually, it becomes something worth fighting for. That’s the progression.
This idea led me to another place: how do you move from ‘dream’ to ‘worth fighting for’ when it seems like the dream will never be real?
There are a bunch of ways to answer this question, but I think a lot of them come back to simply believing in yourself. I struggle with this. I’m sure most people do. Believing in yourself is extremely hard. There are doubters everywhere. Oftentimes, they’re your parents or your boss. Those are people who you spend a lot of time with. It can be hard.
Alright, so then I started thinking — let’s say you can get to a place where you do believe in yourself, at least on some issues. Let’s say you can even get there in the context of work, right?
To me, oftentimes work is all about leverage (another word for politics). Sometimes I think leadership as a concept is straight-up DOA. When people talk about “leadership” right now, they mean “This person has the right relationships to get shit done.” They don’t mean “This person is a leader.” (In the conventional sense.)
But if you believe in yourself, does who-has-the-leverage really matter?
In a way, sure, it does — maybe someone controls P&L or reimbursement and they don’t want to budge on a topic. In that case, maybe it can seem like “believing in yourself” means nothing. You have to roll over.
I actually think if you believe in yourself — in the power of an idea you have, or a dream you have — then you can face any type of opposition to that idea/dream and stand up to it.
There are a million and one theories on happiness, and many trees have been slaughtered in the name of defining it and how to chase it. I’ve slaughtered some pixels on the topic too.
I honestly think one of the keys to happiness is finding what you want to do — your dream, or your idea — and figuring out how to move it from dream to something worth fighting for.
The most tangible way I can see to do that? Believe in yourself.
Because then, all those people you need the vetting of? All those people who can stop you? They don’t mean anything anymore. Their leverage and their politics can fall in front of your beliefs.
Did this all sound like a terrible self-help book? Probably. Does it have a kernel of truth? Unquestionably.