By Paul T
I caught myself doing it this week. My friend was telling me how, after spending a month in India, she had quit her job and decided that she would be returning to India in the fall to stay indefinitely to start a project to improve animal welfare. While I was excited for her and impressed by her bravery and commitment, I immediately started asking about how she was going to fund it and account for other logistical details.
I had become the person that I warn people to watch out for: The Dream Killer. Truth is I think we all do this by default. If you love someone you want them to be safe and happy, right? It’s your job to make sure they are aware of all the possible risks, right? While it is helpful to a point, in actuality you might be damaging your relationship.
When I first dropped out of college and started to forge my own path, my parents (my dad mainly) loudly shared their disapproval. “You will regret it.” “I hope that your plans fall through.” “You need a degree to have a good life.” All this really accomplished was to make me feel like shit. I had already decided what I wanted to do and their commentary wasn’t constructive. They were blinded by their concern for me. Ironically, years later when I had established myself in non-profit, they both told me how proud they are of me. I didn’t expect this outcome but it was very welcome when it happened.
Family and friends will kill your dreams. They don’t do this out of spite; generally they do it out of concern. When you reveal your goals and aspirations keep this in mind and take their reactions with a grain of salt. Be mindful when engaging them; and realize their reactions are just a test of your resolve. Address their concerns and then gently but firmly re-assert your intentions.