Monday, October 15, 2012

Follow Your Dreams (part one)

Much of blogging is aspirational; I love that this medium affords us the opportunity to stretch our wings in new ways, to explore undiscovered paths through life and to access an infinite number of possible futures.  But I have to tell you, dear readers, that I feel like there's incredible pressure in this blogging world of ours to dream big in a very specific direction.  I wrote an open letter to 20-something lifestyle bloggers back in June, but my sense of this pressure has only intensified and I want to address it again.

Mackenzie Horan of Design Darling wrote last Thursday in defense of her decision to start her own business.  "It saddens me," she says, "to read backlash from people who write public, negative, and thinly-veiled commentary about those who have left salaried positions to strike out on their own."  As I'm not an entrepreneur, I haven't seen any of this criticism, though I understand it's out there.  However, what I have seen - and what I feel I keep seeing over and over and over again - are exhortations to break free and chart your own route.

I have the utmost respect for the women (and men) we read about who have the courage to walk away from the familiar world of desk jobs and conference rooms and staff meetings into the unknown of working for themselves.  But I'm afraid that, in our community, that exact kind of courage seems to be the only sort we praise unequivocally. Sure, everybody will leave you lovely notes of congratulations if you get a raise or a promotion at work.  But I don't know that this community appreciates that asking for that raise or applying for that promotion takes courage, too.  It really seems to me like a professional announcement isn't good enough if it's not a proclamation along the lines of "free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I'm free at last."

And that actually seems more stifling than anything else.  We talk about how we're here for each other and I truly do believe that we are, deep down, but I also think that we need to broaden our definition of what it means to follow your dreams.  Some of us can't wait until we can go completely freelance.  Some of us can't wait until we can claim the corner office.  Some of us don't yet know what we're waiting for or striving for - and that's okay, because it's important for us to feel like we're in a safe space that gives us the freedom and flexibility to figure it out in our own time.

It's possible that I'm blowing this out of proportion.  After all, I work in a creative industry and I love it, but my goal is to head into the corporate world, where I can't get away with jersey dresses and flip flops on a regular basis and where there's an endless supply of logo'd pencils and legal pads.  Maybe I just don't see many women like me in our blogging community and maybe I'm feeling a bit outnumbered.  But even if that's the case, it's important to highlight the fact that we can do whatever we want - and that should take whatever shape we each want it to.

Dreaming big is important, but so is dreaming for yourself.  We should all encourage unique dreams, even if they're dreams we don't understand.  This community can't move forward without them.

23 comments:

  1. so true and so well written! no dream judgement here, you go for it, whatever "it" may be. :)

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  2. I'm in the "who the heck knows what my dream career is" camp but this was definitely a side of the story that needed speaking to. Well done, Betsy!

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  3. i love this post and its so, so, so true!
    dream big people!!!


    xo the egg out west.

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  4. you know what? we're young! there's nothing wrong with not knowing. hey, I smell a (part two) coming... haha

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  5. My boyfriend and I quit our jobs to move to London UK in the summer. We weren't even swapping cushy jobs for less lucrative jobs, we were trading one lifestyle for a completely different one, surprises and difficulties notwithstanding. Anyway, it didn't last long (an opportunity back home in Canada couldn't be passed up) but what I've learned from the experience is that 1) haters are always gonna hate because what you do is and forever will be anathema to their way of life and 2) dreams are meant to be chased.

    I love reading your blog by the way.

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  6. a) thank you!
    b) actually, I think the phrase you're looking for is "haterz gonna hate" but that's okay because I know what you meant :)
    c) SO TRUE. the chasing is 75% of the point. achieving the dream is maybe 25% in the grand scheme of things,

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  7. Haha, totally. I didn't think I was cool enough to be use the accurate vernacular.

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  8. It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round. And if you want to work for a corporation, then do it and rock it! I'm not big on the corporate world myself, but I've known people that love it, and it's a perfect fit for them. Go get your corporation on, and you'll have plenty of support!!

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  9. yeah... support from the control-top pantyhose under my skirt suits! hehe :)

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  10. YES to dreaming big! or small. whatever. just dreaming in general and not losing sight of what makes you "you." And what stirs you up inside. No one can ever take that away! xoxo

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  11. As someone who has no desire to return to an office job (and at times I think any job) I have *finally* realized that it does not matter at all what other people think about what I do with my life, but rather how it makes me feel, and how it impacts MY family. Great post :)

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  12. La Chapstick FanatiqueOctober 16, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    my stepmom gets a lot of crap for leaving her job. she has a disease which causes her to have seizures when under a lot of stress. her doctors pretty much told she shouldnt stay in her office job. so she quit - and walked dogs. then she started her own dog walking business and although it is a lot of work and involves a lot of weekends and holidays, she is much happier now. people still make comments about her "walking dogs" but what most don't understand is that she is running a business. it is actually highly successful but people are so afraid of the non-traitional...

    http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

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  13. so true. this goes back to the "women can have it all" argument, which unfortunately often is understood as "women MUST have it all, and here exactly is what "all" means" - and that doesn't work for everyone. good for your mom!

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  14. oof. it must have taken great strength to get to that place. I'll join you there eventually! (thank you)

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  15. REACH FOR THE STARS. if you fail, you'll still be... wait... no, that's not how it goes. [expletive.]

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  16. So true! Different strokes for different folks! I think the blogging community is meant to be generally supportive and uplifting and it makes me so sad when I see opinions of what's right and wrong being thrown around like there is a standard right way of doing things.

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  17. We should all definitely be encouraging everyone's unique dreams because one person's dream can easily be another's nightmare. At the moment, I dream of a secure corporate job where I have to wear a suit everyday. I'm sure some people would think I'm nuts, but I miss my corporate life! :)

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  18. yes. the most confusing/frustrating part is when you read "follow your dream - it's THIS!" and you think "wait... no... it's not that..."

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