In all my years of writing, I always had the mindset “when” I get published not “if.” It never occurred to me I might be a tad prideful, unrealistic, or deluded. I’ve always just believed, “If I want to accomplish something, then I’ll do what it takes to make that happen.”
Part of my mindset stems from my childhood. I had the kind of parents who allowed me the freedom to dream big and to pursue my passions, no matter how big or small.
One year, in sixth grade, I decided to run cross-country. Of course, I had Olympic-size dreams. When I think back to that stage, I chuckle. But what strikes me most is that my mother didn’t chuckle. Instead, everyday, she got on her bike and rode alongside me as I ran up and down the hilly country roads near our home. Without fail she pedaled by my side, her steady words encouraging me.
Then there was the time in eighth grade I decided to be in the school play and take up acting. Once again, my parents let me dream big. They nurtured my creativity and they were my biggest fans. Even though I never did last beyond one year with either running or acting, their faith in me never wavered.
They believed I could do anything I set my mind to. And because they believed in me, I could believe in myself.
Now as a parent of five, I find myself in the very same position. I want to give my children one of the greatest gifts of all: the ability to believe in themselves.
My children all have various talents and abilities. While I hope that I can help them discover how God uniquely designed them, I also want to give them the freedom to dream big.
When my 6 year old son says, “Someday I’m going to travel all over the world” I respond by saying, “Wow, that would be fantastic. Just imagine all of the people you might get to meet and love.”
When my 10 year old daughter says, “I’m going to write mysteries when I grow up,” I tell her “You don’t have to wait. You can start right now.”
My oldest once wanted to be an artist, and he set up an “art shop” in a cardboard box in our basement. I gave him all the supplies he needed, and he spent hours painting and coloring on the walls of his “shop.”
Even though their passions may be temporary, and they’ll likely move on to a dozen other things just like I did, each of those experiences gives me a chance to encourage them , to believe in them, to teach them that they can do anything.
The lesson is true for all of us. We can’t reach for our dreams if we don’t start by believing in ourselves. I’m not talking about a showy, prideful attitude that we can rise to the top. But rather a quiet, secure confidence in our gifts and abilities, a steadiness to pursue our passion day in and day out, the belief that we have what it takes to accomplish what we set out to do.
Doubts and insecurities may come and try to weigh on our shoulders. But an unshakable, inner confidence needs to toss them off. Instead, we must continue to stretch tall. Reach high. And never stop believing we can grasp onto our dreams.
Do you believe in yourself? Are you standing tall and reaching for your dreams? Or have you let doubt and disappointments weigh you down?
Next post: The hard work of making dreams come true.