It never ceases to amaze me how often we can become our own worst enemies. I have so many friends who are not only wonderful people, but also incredibly talented. Artists, writers, musicians, would-be entrepreneurs…When I see them, I see so much potential. And yet many of them are either stuck without a job, or with low-paying positions because of pure circumstance. They weren’t born into a position that privileged them enough to pursue internships during college and they didn’t know someone at the right company in a high-level position to assist them in obtaining a job that would help further their career. They are people who are constantly struggling to make ends meet, helping their own parents make car payments and mortgages, due to living at a time when it’s getting harder and harder to compete for those few available jobs at the top (for an interesting analysis on the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots as it pertains to job creation, read this piece by Gary Reber). This has been my own situation several times over, especially after the recession hit my family hard, forcing my father, who had just started his construction business, to sit at home without work for a year.
Things have improved for us, but for many, it hasn’t. And for many, the idea of making dreams come true is becoming less and less a reality and more and more akin to children’s fairy-tales. It’s downright depressing. To quote famous beat poet and thinker Allen Ginsberg, it often feels like I am seeing “the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,”–the madness being brought on by poverty and desperation.
Still, I believe that there are ways out of the hole for many of us if only we are willing to dream a little bigger. And while I do of course recognize the luxury of dreaming (how difficult it is to dream when you’re working 80 hour weeks and have children to feed and long commutes and no health care and no one to lean on or lean in to), I at the very least encourage a little bit of dreaming for those of us who do have this luxury. Because if we want to make a positive change in our world, in our communities, the best way to do this is by grabbing success by the horns and using it to do our bidding. One can’t help employ the dozens or hundreds in their community if they themselves have nothing to give. But if one or two climb out, maybe they will remember where they came from and work to give back to their communities, and reach down and pull a few folks up with them. That’s how this works.
I’m truly inspired tonight after listening to this TED Talk by writer and editor-in-chief for Cosmo for Latinas Michelle Herrera Mulligan, who talks about dreaming wild and what this can do for your career and essentially, your life. If you have a moment, listen to these words and take them to heart. More often than not, we have little to nothing to lose when we take changes.