Alternate Title: Why Daydreaming is the Same as Waiting (What You Need To Do Instead of Daydreaming)
I was extremely shy as a kid.
It all started when I was two years old. For some reason I have vivid memories from my early childhood. My parents have been amazed by many of the things I’ve told them from when I was a small child.
In this case, a neighbor saw me holding her little girl’s hand and said, “Shame, shame”, while wagging her finger at me. Then she slapped my hand to make us let go.
On another occasion, I recall a caregiver at my kindergarten laughing and covering her mouth whenever she saw me expressing fondness for the opposite sex.
I remember as if it happened yesterday.
Growing up with that undeserved feeling of shame was gut wrenching. I could barely look at girls. I went out of my way not to be put in situations that required pairing off with girls.
By the time I was in junior high (middle school for you young guys) that plan was beginning to fall apart because there was now peer pressure to date.
All the cool kids did it…and like most, I wanted to be a cool kid.
One problem though: My shyness hadn’t gone away.
I had gotten to a point where I could at least be around girls. As long as there was no expectation of anything more than friendship, I was fine.
But, somehow, I found a way…
So peer pressure finally got the better of me and I made the agonizing decision to do whatever it took to break out of my shell.
I made it a point to start saying hello to the really pretty girls at school.
It was hard at first. Okay, it was nearly impossible. I was socially inept.
But I kept trying, fumbling for words, turning red with embarrassment.
Over time it gradually became easier to talk with girls. The switch really flipped for me when I started looking at it as if it were a game. I won the game whenever I could make the pretty girl smile.
I came to realize that I really had nothing to lose. Usually I could get almost any girl to smile back at me, just by smiling at them.
This wouldn’t be enough to satisfy me though.
My ultimate goal was to get a date, so I had to find some way to up my game. I decided that I needed to take a girl to the school dance. At least at a dance I wouldn’t have to come up with all sort of witty or interesting conversations because there would be enough of our friends there to keep the conversation going.
The first girl I asked to go to on a date was a cheerleader and beauty queen named Jenny.
She really was a beauty queen.
Jenny had just been named “Most Beautiful” in our school’s beauty pageant. I wanted very badly to ask her to the school dance.
Lucky me; Jenny had asked me to help her study a few times and I had gotten to know her well enough to be comfortable around her. We always met in the library, and I felt pretty safe there among in that stuffy atmosphere.
But there was still a problem.
Our relationship so far had been strictly based on me helping her study.
Being smart helped me with girls in that way. But now that I’d decided to ask her to the dance, l was very nervous about possibly taking our relationship to the next level.
I could vividly imagine the humiliation of me asking her out and her laughing in my face.
What if she told all the other cheerleaders that she had rejected me?
Word would go around the whole school and everyone would know.
Everyone would laugh behind my back.
How would I ever look at her again without embarrassment?
Taking the Plunge
In spite of those thoughts, I decided I would give it a shot. The twisting feeling in my gut wouldn’t let me forget about that upcoming dance.
I imagined the conversation for a couple of days and practiced how it would go hundreds of times.
I had it all planned out – or so I thought.
One night after school I finally talked myself into calling her.
I picked up the phone and dialed her number.
My fingers moved very slowly. I could feel my throat tightening up.
My palms were literally dripping with sweat, even though my hands were freezing.
I dialed slowly 8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (not Jenny’s real number). I took forever to press that last number, the 9.
The phone rang for an eternity and I halfway wished she wouldn’t answer.
I started to hang up but then the ringing stopped and I heard her voice – “Hello…Hello?”
I thought I would hyperventilate. I almost couldn’t speak. The knot in my throat was even tighter now.
I managed to answer her hello with something lame like, “Hey, this is Dan – is it a good time to talk?”
She answered, “Sure” – I was elated.
After the awkward start, surely the conversation would be better wouldn’t it? Guess what? It wasn’t.
It almost sounded like I had called to give her a survey:
What are you doing?
Is that your dog I hear barking? What kind is he? Oh, those are cute.
What time did you get home today?
One boring question after another. Our conversation went all over the place and it even stalled a couple of times.
I had trouble finding a way to get around to saying those key words I had rehearsed so many times.
My best laid plans were failing miserably!!
I had to do something…anything…this wasn’t working…
I know I sounded awkward, but I finally worked up the nerve and just blurted out my question.
I was so nervous that the question came out as a run on sentence.
There, I said it!!
Now all I had to do was wait for her answer…for what seemed like an eternity.
When she did finally answer…
She caught me totally off guard…
But you’ll never guess what happened.
I’ll tell you in a minute. I want to take a diversion to talk about what could have happened instead, had I not taken action and called Jenny that fateful night.
As it turns out, our conversation didn’t go anything like I had daydreamed. What I had planned and what really happened were not at all alike.
But to this day, I still wouldn’t trade the way the conversation went because it taught me something.
That conversation serves as a very powerful lesson to me today.
You see, if I had kept daydreaming and never called, I would have run out of time and lost my chance to ask her to that dance.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
– ‘The Great One’, Wayne Gretzky
I was guaranteed failure if I hadn’t called. At least by calling, there was a chance…a chance that she would say yes.
But if I had not called and had just kept daydreaming…
…well, I hate to think of what might have happened. I might have retreated further into my own head and been drowned by my irrational fear.
I may have stayed stuck in my daydreams even to this day.
My daydreaming would have led to more and more daydreaming, leaving me wishing for something to happen instead of making it happen. The dance would have come and gone with me feeling completely defeated.
I would have been sitting at home alone wishing I had called.
And you know what’s worse?
Right now I would be looking back on that event with regret.
What about you?
- What events do you look back on with regret?
- What is it that you’re wasting your time waiting to do right now, because of fear?
- What is it that you’re daydreaming about?
Don’t be guilty of waiting and wishing and never taking action.
Figure out how you will take the first step and then just start!
Even if your plans are poorly executed (like mine were), at least by acting on them you’ll figure that out and do better next time.
So – you’re probably still wondering what she said aren’t you?
When I finally got around to asking the question she said “Yes”.
Big shocker eh?
You knew that was coming didn’t you?
I had fumbled through the conversation, but somehow still managed to get what I had daydreamed about.
I was relieved that she said yes and I guess, since we’re all so used to Hollywood endings, that wasn’t really amazing or surprising was it?
No I guess not, but…
It’s what she said a bit later that I carry with me even to this day.
After she said yes, we talked about other things, as if we were having a normal conversation. You know, I had to play it cool. I couldn’t let her know how nervous I had been.
What she said next totally astounded me though.
Just before we hung up the phone that night she said the following words to me:
“Daniel Black, I only have one more thing to say to you…
Oh crap – I didn’t see this coming…is she going to back out and laugh in my face now???
Instead she only said three words.
Was she saying she had been waiting for me to do the very thing I had feared all along?
And I hadn’t even realized it…
…even though we had been spending all that time together studying.
Get out of your own head!
You see, I was so wrapped up in my own fear that I couldn’t see that she was genuinely interested in me the whole time.
I was so focused on my own fear that I couldn’t see what was right before me!
My fear had my attention so wrapped up in what might happen, that I couldn’t see the reality of the situation!
What realities are you blinded to in your own life right now because of your fear?
I would like to tell you that I learned my lesson and I never let fear control me. But that wouldn’t be completely true. I still battle this from time to time, however, I now have a very potent tool to use when fear creeps in and starts whispering in my ear.
When I do catch myself giving in to fear I take a moment to think back to that time.
And you know what’s really funny?
Lately I’ve been reminded of her saying “IT’S ABOUT TIME” several times.
You see, I sat on my idea to start a blog for several months before I finally pulled the trigger and began publishing.
I actually started this site with over 100 completed articles on file and another 200 seeds of ideas stashed away.
Hundreds of ideas being hidden, just waiting for the light of day so that they could bloom.
What was it that held me back from starting writing for so long?
Very simply – it was fear.
Now that I look back, I wonder what in the world I was afraid of.
- I didn’t have the time
- I didn’t know anything about writing
- Who would want to read what I have to say?
- Where would I start?
But…somehow…here you are reading this, right?
It seems so simple doesn’t it?
It is simple — but it’s still not that easy is it?
Maybe fear is preventing you from realizing your dreams too.
If so, here’s an important lesson for you:
Fear never goes away.
Whenever I get ready to post a new article, fear whispers into my ear, “What if no one likes what you have to say?”
I sometimes sit for several minutes waiting to hit the ‘publish’ button (reminds me of slowly dialing Jenny’s phone number that night).
You know what I’m finally realizing?
Whether you start or not, your fear will always be there. But you need to remind yourself that fear isn’t necessarily reality.
You see, fear is nothing more than a lingering emotion that’s fueled by your imagination. Yes, fear is uncomfortable – but it isn’t real. Most of the time there’s nothing really dangerous about those things you fear.
Now that I’m on the other side of the issue, I’ve recognized something else…
…something even more frightening.
If you give in to fear you will never have anything to show for your life.
If you give in to fear you will always be a shadow of the person you are meant to be.
Successful people understand this better than you do, so they flip fear on its head. Instead of letting their fear take over, they focus on the feelings they get when they conquer their fears.
Because the fact is, no matter your level of success, fear never totally goes away. If you overcome a particular fear other fears will creep in to take its place.
So don’t focus on the fear. Instead focus on the outcome of overcoming your fear.
Isn’t it about time you stepped out of your own shadow and began working on your dream?
We all have dreams don’t we?
Having dreams feels good. Daydreaming about our future feels good. You get to feel like you’re achieving your dreams without actually doing anything – for a while anyway.
The problem is that no one (not you or anyone else) benefits from your dreams unless you put them out for the whole world to see.
The world can’t appreciate your dreams if you keep them locked up inside your head. The world can only respond to those who commit themselves to realizing their dreams – those who commit to action.
Someone in this world needs you to commit your dreams to action. Maybe it’s a guy who is lost in this world, not really realizing the fog he’s in (I’m talking about you). Or maybe it’s your wife or kids who need you to be all you were meant to be because your future as a family depends on it.
And here’s a secret – you need it too.
Living a life that doesn’t matter is a miserable existence.
So, how do you begin?
Well, you just get started.
I know – that was a bit of a letdown wasn’t it? Sorry for the lack of detail.
Get started and begin figuring out the process one step at a time.
Tell yourself that you are going to do just one small thing. Even if it seems totally inconsequential, you need to pick one thing that will move you toward your goal and do it.
Just one small thing. It’s not really that hard, but it is really important.
If you can’t do that then you maybe need to see if they will let you check into a nursing home.
Yes, it’s that serious.
“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.”
– Ben Franklin
We’re not here to play around
There is no practice round or do-over. Every day you are living…or maybe you are not. This is your real life and it’s the only one you get.
You were made to create — to build, to bring something new into existence, to design something that will help others.
You weren’t born to simply follow the orders of a boss for 25 or 30 years, putting your dreams on hold until retirement.
You were created for a purpose — it doesn’t matter whether you are a musician, architect, carpenter, writer, or ________________ (you fill in the blank).
Whatever legacy you hope to leave hinges on whether you make the decision TODAY to start it.
If you say, “I’ll do it later”, you’ve just failed. Every moment you wait for later is a moment lost to your fear.
Don’t wait – just get started.
Start something today – even if it means you fail the first time – even if it doesn’t look exactly as good as you imagined in your dreams.
If you screw it up, so what. Just start over.
Don’t be afraid of starting over, heck, for as many times as it takes.
Look at how I blurted out my question to Jenny – and somehow, she still said yes!
The world is waiting to say yes to you.
You only fail if you don’t keep trying (or if you never start in the first place).
Are you finally ready to start today?
I’ll tell you like someone once told me;
“IT’S ABOUT TIME!”
What is it that you are going to start working on today?
I would love to hear about it.
Tell me about it in the comments.