“What I am is good enough if only I would only be it openly.” ~Carl Rogers
From the time my grandmother gave me a copy of Little Women when I was five years old, I knew I wanted to be a writer and create books like that one.
As I grew up, I devoured books left and right, working my way up from The Babysitters’ Club Little Sister to 1984. While other kids were asking their parents to take them to a toy store, I was begging for a trip to the local bookstore.
What can I say? The nerdy heart wants what it wants.
I wrote stories and articles in a private journal, amassing hundreds and hundreds of pages of text over the years, but I still had not developed the courage to let anyone read my work. I locked them up tight but longed for an outlet.
When I started blogging a few years ago, it was out of the desire to finally let my writing free—a passion I had mistreated for way too long.
Soon after reigniting this passion, though, my subconscious fears found a way to suppress it all over again.
I wrote articles long and short, but, for some reason, I kept them focused on the topics I thought people associated me with, what seemed both safe and to the point: technology.
I waded hesitantly in the waters, writing about industry topics and news without infusing my own voice or experiences in the text.
I feared a reader would disagree with anything I wrote, so I didn’t take a stance on any of the topics I felt strongly about.
Even stronger, though, was the fear to let my own personality shine through. It felt silly and bane to show parts of myself to my readers. I pictured feeling embarrassed if readers sneered, instead of feeling fulfilled if readers related.
As my confidence grew, though, my passion for writing started peaking out, trying to find its way into the words on the screen. (Sometimes, even when I didn’t want it to.)
As new passions and interests sprang up in my personal life, they also started showing up in my work.
I decided to take a more loving and gentle approach to my writing, thinking: I write for me. I want to write about what fulfills me. I want to write about what makes me happy.
As selfish as that sounds, it worked.
Some posts were hard to write—and even harder to finish. I remember physically flinching while clicking “Publish.” But life showed me I had made the right choice. Every single post that incorporated my true voice got the best feedback.
Was it difficult to find the confidence and love necessary to show others my true voice? You bet. Would I ever write a single line again without being myself? Not in a million years.
To find the courage to truly achieve my passions and dreams, I followed three steps. Even if you have different goals, these may also work for you:
1. Allow yourself the mental space to be as creative and truthful as you can.
From the time we are little, we have been told to fit in and fit the mold, limiting and cutting off the dreams that are churning deep within.
The problem is that the molds we’ve been told to fit into have changed as we’ve grown, and it’s become hard to know where our dreams end and these molds begin. Trying to tap into your passions may be difficult, but it’s definitely possible and even necessary.
Ask yourself what you would do and what you would try to accomplish if you knew you could not fail.
Pretend you are a superhero who could choose to do anything and be successful. Pretend there are no other players in the game—nobody to judge or to tell you you’re wrong.
Just picture you succeeding at your dreams, whatever they may be. What would you do if you could not fail?
My list of dreams was easy to start. I knew my number one dream immediately: to write a book that was one hundred percent me. After some thought, though, I came up with some other dreams and things I’d love to try that maybe I hadn’t allowed myself to admit before.
Before I knew it, the list grew longer, and my heart felt even happier.
Do not go on to the next section until you have written down a few options.
2. Map out the path to your dreams.
Even when we identify what we wish we could do and be, our dreams are just that—dreams—because they seem so far off. It’s hard to imagine them occurring in real life, but that’s not exactly true at all.
What if I told you that each of your dreams is only a series of steps away from coming true? What if you are only a few small tasks away from being your true self?
Take out a piece of paper. Make two columns. In the left column, write down your dreams. In the right column, next to each dream, write down the one single thing you can do today to achieve that dream. (Nothing huge allowed, so please don’t cheat—just one minuscule task per dream.)
Guess what? You are now on your way to achieving those dreams that seemed so far off and impossible. Reaching those dreams is just a series of small tasks away.
Sometimes, the tasks I wrote down were as small as writing one page of my book or reading an article of research. Other times, they were more complex, like editing an entire chapter or finding places in the book where I could insert some jokes or other pieces of my personality.
Most importantly, though, they were always tasks I could tackle in one day and simple enough to avoid scaring me into procrastination.
3. Water your most fulfilling dreams.
You have before you a roadmap to start achieving the things you never thought possible, or those you put on the backburner for way too long. But, let’s face it. Some dreams are bigger and much more fulfilling than others.
Instead of weeding out the ones that are least important, picture yourself watering the dreams that make you happiest.
Like they say, success begets success. Trust in the process, and you will get to those other dreams over time. But imagine how happy and fulfilled you will feel if you target the one that makes your heart melt.
I tackled the book dream before any others, and it has fueled my confidence and willingness to tackle what’s next.
The magic behind such a simple exercise is that you realize you can and must let your true self shine through.
Just like my readers appreciated finally finding my personality in my writing and my book, the world will thank you for letting your true self come through in whatever projects and dreams you pursue.