When writing this post, first off I was just gonna give you the scientific info on why it is so hard to follow your dreams, but then I realized that without my story, it is just going to be ‘dry data’ or another follow your dreams quotes list.
To truly share a story, I believe you have to live it yourself first.
But can I truly say I had trouble following my dreams? Absolutely!
Should you really follow your dreams?
Rewind to five years ago. I had my own interior design company, had a loving family, had a great social life, and went on holidays up to 10 times a year.
On the surface everything looked great, I was what you’d call ‘successful’ in all realms. However, deep inside me, I had these irrational ‘wants’ that just were not met.
I knew how to make good business, I read dozens of ‘how to become a millionaire’ books, but none of them addressed the stage I was in – namely, the burnout. And hell, you’re supposed to get burned out from a high-level corporate job, not from running your own company?
I studied for 6 years, worked for other people for 8 years, then ran my own company for 5 years. I had invested all this time & money to end up where I was, with my own architecture studio. And yet, on a gut level, I KNEW I wanted to be someone else, somewhere else.
How did I deal with it? For years, I would overeat to numb down these needs that weren’t met. It just seemed like it was too late for me, I was too old, my cards were dealt. Too many people were counting on me being reliable, too many people were counting on me showing up, too many people just wanted me to be ‘the old me’ they’ve always known.
What does it mean to follow your dreams?
Then there was me – just the thought of solo travel scared the shit out of me. I was always thinking where would I get the money to make my dreams come true anyway?!
There was a lot of anxiety & fear coming up for me even when I did ‘go there’ in my mind. It just felt like I was stuck. I was never gonna generate enough velocity to escape.
Now, I would have saved myself much of this self-flagellating if I had only known what was stopping me from following my dreams was not my lack of courage but a socio-survival mechanism established millions of years ago!
If a baby monkey is born in the zoo, and you drop it in the middle of the jungle, is it going to survive?
None of us has done it, yet on an intuitive level, we all know the poor baby monkey will die. It needs its tribe to survive, to be safe, to learn all the dos and don’ts of life in the forest.
A better chance at survival
Similarly, human beings are also tribe creatures. For millions of years, your only bet at sleeping safely at night and securing enough food was to be part of a community. However, living within a tribe meant playing by the rules: ‘You will not sleep with another’s wife. You will go out to gather food for everyone.’
From the day you were born your parents would teach you the rules of the tribe to ensure you know the behavior code that will secure you a safe life within the tribe. Your parents knew that any behavior that breaks the rules will result in the tribe shunning you out which meant death out there in the wild.
Moreover, if a child was rebellious, their life was also at stake by association with the child.
Millions of years have passed since, yet these patterns haven’t changed. From the moment we’re born, our parents shape us into what they perceive as a future ‘respectable citizen’. They don’t do it because they’re boring or conservative, they do it on an intuitive level to ensure our best chances in life. And so it starts!
A little girl will be encouraged to play with dolls, stay clean and be nice. But say her brother wants to play with dolls. Oh no. Move the doll away, he’d better be shooting hoops in the backyard with Dad.
It’s not that the parents are homophobes, it’s just their understanding that the boy will have an easier life (a better chance at survival) if he is like all the other boys.
How do you pursue your dreams if people are holding you back?
I went to an international school in Kuwait, there must have been close to 100 nationalities there…
At 16 I realized that many of the kids from not-so-wealthy countries are encouraged to take the same two subjects. The girls excelled in biology so they could make it to Medical School. The boys took Advanced Math so they would make good engineers.
This was no coincidence, it was their parents maneuvering them: they believed that as an engineer or a doctor their kids could make it anywhere. Some dreams are all so socially acceptable. Tell your parents you want a law degree and are planning to invest in real estate, you will see a steady smile appear on their faces.
Try telling your parents you are selling everything to become a barefoot raw foodie in Asia and suddenly everyone loses their shit.
So why is it so hard to follow your dreams?
Because on a primal level, we are afraid the tribe will shun us out. We are afraid we will die. We know that if we ‘play nice, reliable & predictable’, we will be safe.
If you make an ‘unpopular decision’ you will lose the approval of your elders. So maybe it’s better to make responsible choices? Opt for a good career option and put those dreams on a bucket list hidden deep inside your drawer?
Do you regret not following your dreams?
Take it from me. I’ve met so many people in their 30s all saying the same thing. ‘I’ve done this job for 15 years, I don’t know what else I can do. I just know I can’t do this anymore!’
You don’t wanna be in their shoes at 40, frantically looking for their passion. I want to encourage you to pursue your passions, your dreams, AT ALL COSTS.
I guarantee you that nothing beats the feeling of being exactly who you want to be, where you want to be.
The takeaway from this post – the next time you hesitate to follow your dreams, don’t beat yourself up. It’s not you, it’s the primal you who fears the tribe shuns you out! We all have it, it’s universal!
The #1 life hack to follow your dreams
What helped me tremendously with following my dreams is adopting a raw food diet. There is something magical that happens in the first weeks after eating a raw food diet that is hard to explain. Your brain gets clear as you are finally giving it the right fuel and you can see your path much clearer.
This got me to take action immediately and I started following my dreams almost instantly.
If you want to know more about raw foods and what they can do for you, I highly suggest checking out the 30-Day Raw Food Challenge!