“Never, never, never give up.”
It is a famous quote by Winston Churchill, and one of the many messages presented in Rhonda Byrne’s latest book, Hero. I received the inspirational book for Christmas, and only just got around to power-reading it cover to cover. I never understood how we, as humans, were supposed to know exactly where we wanted to go in life, every step of it, and where we wanted to end up. Trying to think about the ultimate dream of my life brought more anxiety than bliss, because I couldn’t see or imagine where I wanted to be.
In a sense, I had given up on moving forward; I was seduced by the security and warmth of knowing what to expect day in and day out. I have a steady day job, with hours I know weeks in advance, and a steady full-time income. I cling to that security blanket, because as long as I have it, I feel like I know what to expect; wake up, go to work, come home, relax, cook, sleep, and repeat. My mind swings into autopilot, because of the predictability of my daily routine, and my desire to skip past the workday and head straight home.
Rhonda Byrne likens the path to our dreams to a labyrinth; the way is challenging, and many times unclear, but if we know our dream waits for us at the center, we persevere. She says that while we come across walls and dead ends, they aren’t really as they appear – they instead serve to guide us along another path, and teach us strength and courage. But labyrinths are scary; it is easy to get lost, and difficult to find your way through. The Hero’s Journey, as Byrne calls it, is more unpredictable than my safe, unexciting daily routine.
As I read Hero, I deeply felt that I had given up on my dream, even if I wasn’t clear on what it was. I hadn’t answered the call to follow my bliss. Maybe I had even deafened myself to it out of fear. So I sat down, pen in hand, and took some advice: I made a list of things I enjoy, things that give me bliss. Rhonda says that following our bliss in life automatically pulls us closer to our dreams, even if we don’t know what they are. Most people dream of making a living out of something they love, because they wouldn’t wake up dreading going to work. Can you imagine how great that must feel?
I realized that reading and writing are among the activities I enjoy the most (alongside playing video games, sci-fi, and daydreaming). When I get immersed in a book, I soak it up like a sponge. Sometimes I have to will myself to read slower, in case I miss the minor details, or pack too much plot into my head in one sitting. Books occupied most of my childhood and placed a buffer between myself and reality when I needed it most. As I wrote this list, I remembered a fleeting thought I had once had – that I wanted to help people through writing the way that books had helped me.
Does that mean I want to become an author? Is that my dream? For my senior thesis assignment in college, I had decided to write a young adult novella, an entire novella. What led me to that decision? Was it the calling, trying to catch my attention? I somehow survived a room full of professors critiquing my work, and I remember feeling so great when they passed my thesis. Recalling that feeling of bliss nearly brings me to tears. Why didn’t I continue editing my novella, try to get it published? Why did I ignore that feeling, that calling? Was it fear, or doubt? Or was I just not ready?
I have been writing content online for nearly three years, dipping my feet into different waters, but perhaps I have been ignoring my calling for fear of failure. And because I never committed fully to that dream, the pieces never fell into place. It has been so long since I wrote my novella, that the idea of going back and reading it makes me anxious. I worry about changing too little, or too much. But why should I worry? If this is truly the first step on the staircase leading to my dream, I should embrace it, and enjoy it. I have decided to turn back to this dream, because I don’t want to give up on it anymore.
May your life be spent following your dreams, and never, never, never about giving up.