I read a quote the other day that said, “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.”

Say what? My dream isn’t big enough? Big enough for who exactly?

I found that statement more than a little bit condescending because some dreams just aren’t that scary. Take my not-so-big big dream for example:

I want to make my living as a writer. I’ve wanted that for as long as I can remember. I want to write novels and nonfiction books. For magazines and newspapers. For stupid dope websites. For the most badass women on the internet. I want to write words. I want to write funny words, clever words, smart words, thought-provoking words, have them printed and see my name underneath them.

It’s a dream that probably won’t yield fortune, or fame, or my own island in the Maldives but that’s totally okay. Because if I really wanted any of that stuff I would have chosen to make myself into something else — anything else. But I am a writer and I want to put words on the page one after the other. Nothing more, nothing less and I am perfectly happy with that.

That is until the Dream Police come for me, sirens blaring.

“You know, you should try to develop your own television show!” my well-meaning, big-dreaming friends say. “I could totally see you having a series on HBO! Or why don’t you write a screenplay and try to sell it to Hollywood? You could win an Oscar! An Os-car!” And their eyes dart around inside their head, coaxing their brain to style me for the award show. I’d look phenomenal in an Eli Saab, but a gown from an unknown designer would be much more appropriate.

And what is my response to the thought of me winning an Academy Award? Meh.



This is where I do my dreaming and what not.

“That sounds interesting, but I’m not really into TV or movie production. I just want to write.”

Then the Dream Police’s eyes grow dull with disappointment. The image of me sucking in my stomach as I shuffle across the red carpet goes up in a puff of smoke. I’m back at my laptop with my oversized Penn State hoodie and thermos full of lukewarm green tea.

The Dream Police are horrified. “Write? That’s all?”

Yup. That’s all.

I mean, of course, winning an Oscar would be an extraordinary accomplishment and I’d be stoked if that opportunity were to arise. But that isn’t my goal. It’s not what I strive for and it’s not what pulls me to my computer every single day.

And I don’t think that means that I’m not ambitious, or important or special, or that I’m somehow settling for mediocrity. It just means that my personal criteria for a big dream doesn’t require that I have money, power, or fame. And just because my goal isn’t to be a trillionaire or emperor of the world or whatever constitutes a “big dream” for the average person doesn’t mean that it won’t make me unimaginably fulfilled.

Like what about people whose ultimate dream is to be “just” a teacher? Or a stay-at-home parent? Or to marry the love of their life? Or to just be able to eat whatever the fuck they want without getting fat? None of those dreams are very scary, but if it makes someone as happy as they could possibly be, than I don’t think they can get any bigger.

So don’t dream shame me, bro. Because my dreams are the perfect fit for me, even if they aren’t big enough for you.

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more Shayla on XOJane! 

Tags: ,
Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • Excellent post, everyone should have their own dreams. IMO everyone should reach their absolute optimum. This is not a single standard, everyone has their own. It’s wonderful to see what everyone’s optimum self can achieve.

    My dream is a life of significance for my family, self and community. How I can contribute in a meaningful way? By being a good example, a loving and devoted family member, friend and associate. It is important that contribute to the accomplishment of my community, as I think this is a responsibility everyone in the community has. This is happiness and a dream at the same time.

  • Mademoiselle

    I love this article! This is something that has been irking me since high school. It’s especially irritating when you happen to be good at something that you aren’t the LEAST bit interested in doing, let alone becoming someone’s employee so you could be told how to do it. Dream-shaming starts early, too: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” God-forbid you say you want to “work as little as possible because grown-ups don’t make working look fun (not even the ones who say they’re doing what they love so it’s not really work — looks like work to me).”

    I apply the same principal universally: why look to other people to embody the qualities you value so much? If you’re so money-struck/title-struck/location-struck/education-struck/celebrity-struck/status-struck/beauty-struck/possessions-struck, you should strive to get YOURSELF that money/title/location/education/celebrity-hood/status/beauty/possessions and just be impressed with yourself so everyone else can get back to doing what they want.

  • Nikki

    Love, love, love this post lady!

  • Anthony

    I think Xojane looks adorable in all of her pictures! I wish I were single and young enough to hit on her! Relax, I’m not going to internet stalk anyone!

    On a serious note, I think Xojane does have a really big dream, and she is making it happen. A whole lot of people with talent never get past the talking stage of anything!

    • EST. 1986

      That is Yesha. XOJane is a website.

  • Anthony

    Ooops! Yesha is awfully cute and i admire her ambition!