That’s right! I’m advocating you date your dreams. Think about it: what could go wrong? Dating your dreams is even better than dating real people, after all, because you don’t have to hold back your questions. So go ahead. Ask them how old they really are. How many people they’ve slept with. If they’re into commitment.
Why do such a strange personal inventory?
Well, how often do you allow something into your life that you know nothing about? Not very often, right? Not men or women. Not friends. Not animals or work projects. Even simple things, like food or furniture, are in your home because you thought about them, weighed pros and cons, matched them up with lifestyle or preexisting home goods, and brought them on in.
So why do we so often allow our dreams to dictate how we feel and live, without really thinking about what they mean or whether we want them in our lives? A lot of the time they’re just there, something that struck us and we decided to hold on to.
I’m not saying this is bad. When I was five years old, I decided to write a book, and that dream is still with me today. I cherish it, work toward it and love it. It makes me feel good about myself. It makes me me.
But other goals or aspirations aren’t as well thought out. It took me a surprisingly long time to let go of the idea of being accepted by everyone, and of having lots of friends. Neither of these things describe me. I don’t have the personality for it and I don’t particularly want to put in the work. It’s hard to have a lot of friends, after all, when you’d rather spend Friday night with the fireplace and your dog. Don’t get me wrong: I have friendships I cherish dearly, that have been with me more than half my life, that I work my butt off for and sacrifice for. Just not many. I had to let that dream go.
Just like I’ve let go of the idea of working in an office environment. I like office clothes. I like communal coffee breaks. I like morning meetings. (I do.) But I don’t want that life, not really. And so I’ve let go of the idea of working with other people on the day to day. Not that I don’t collaborate, or get ideas, or give ideas or love to talk; I’m just not cut out to be someone else’s employee.
We pass through life thinking we want things and finding out, over and over again, that we don’t really want those things after all. Or perhaps they even conflict. In Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney point out that people often actually have conflicting goals, such as spending more time on work AND more time on family. Hmm …
The solution? Introspection. Go on a date with your dreams! Get to know them. Ask them questions. Tell them about you. See where the good fits are, and find the flaws. What doesn’t work now may never work, or may just need some help. If you talk it through, hash it out, have a few drinks, you may just discover things you never knew.