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  • Writer's pictureMaking To Make Happy

Finding the building blocks of dreams

“What’s your dream?”

Do you have yours figured? I find it a hard question to answer quickly. I have so many dreams - so many things I want to learn, experience and accomplish - that it can be overwhelming.

In the past, I realise I have defined dreams as things I would love to happen but that might not. Therefore my dreams have been expansive and mostly unattainable - they are fairytales that keep me cosy and allow my mind to wander to far off places.

I’ve only just realised (I know, I’m slow to the party) that, because of this, I have always just assumed, deep down, that I wouldn’t achieve my dreams. Of course, I would say out loud, if anyone asked, that if you have a dream you should go for it. I am an active encourager of other peoples dreams. But in private I felt unsure of mine. They were always so big and broad and, therefore, vague. How do you achieve something so sprawling…so much bigger than yourself?

I have always had the notion that a dream needed to be fully visualised before it could be acted upon. That it needed edges and full technicolour. Part of a dream - floating ideas and snippets of imaginings... - was not actionable in my muddled mind.

This is the reason I never jumped before. I couldn’t fully visualise what I dreamt because I couldn’t see the intricacies of it. I could only see part of the picture, but the whole thing was too wide, so I couldn’t explain it to others. I would unconsciously, and sometimes consciously, be waiting for someone else to take the reins and to help me build, because I was scared to do it alone. But I couldn’t convince anyone of what I was chasing. My dream was too hazy, and it wasn’t theirs.

So the big revelation for me? (And yes, I’m well aware that others worked this out long ago.)…

It is that you don’t always need to see the big picture. You don’t always need to know where you are going and how you will get there. It is possible to simply grab the building blocks and start stacking them.

For me, the first lockdown gave me the time I needed to figure this out. It gave me a break from people and places. It let me sit in my own head for a while and I had so missed that. By having time to root around in my dusty brain, and having time to seek out other inspirations, I started to understand that I was allowed to learn as I go. I didn’t need to be perfectly educated in business or illustration, I didn’t need to have premium equipment or a big starting budget. All I needed was some gumption.

I needed some bravery.

This was the hard part, but also the easiest. It only required me to shift. I didn’t need to change anybody else’s mind but my own. I was so worried about making a fool of myself - of trying and of people telling me I was rubbish. I didn’t think I deserved a place in the world of selling artwork when I felt so unqualified. The things I wanted to draw and communicate…they seemed so small and insignificant. And don’t even get me started on self-promotion - how do you tell people about what you want to do, and make it sound good, while also not coming across like a “Look at Me Monster”? All of these were fears. They are fears I still have, but they are no longer ones I let take the lead. Instead, they follow me about, sometimes in the shadows, sometimes tugging on my sleeves. But I know, rationally, that my voice is not invalidated by theirs.

So I took a breath, drew a picture and put in on Instagram. I felt like an utter banana, made a video, and switched it to public, on Youtube. I took a leap, made a product and actually announced my putting it on Etsy. I tried not to wince too much at all the imperfections I could see in all of these things, and that I knew others would see…. Except, maybe they didn’t see them. Maybe the things I saw as imperfect in my drawing were seen by others as my “style”. Maybe the silly faces I couldn’t help making in my video made a few people giggle, in a good way. Maybe people were glad to hear about the product on Etsy, because they wouldn’t have known about it otherwise and they wanted to support me. Maybe, maybe, maybe…it’s all ok.

I am starting to build now. Each day I realise another building block of my dream.

As I stack them together bit by bit I am starting to see a bigger image and it is starting to look like a proper thing. Something not only I, but others can believe in. I don’t have all the answers, I still have so much to learn and am figuring out everything as I go. It turns out other people are doing the same. I always thought everyone else knew what they were doing, but actually, they’re just winging it too.

Keep making to make happy, friends!

Love Gem x

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