Big Dreams + Creativity: Exchanging Wisdom with 17-Year-Old Me

My feelings about big dreams, creativity + ambitions have changed a lot since I was younger.

"It's rough out there... don't lose hope," says a cute dog.

Doodle by Jenipher Lyn Gallardo. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I’ve learned things that would have saved my tremendously idealistic 17-old-self worlds of pain and helped her to finish what she started. But on the other hand, she knew truths deep in her bones that I sometimes struggle with now.

So she and I sat down for a conversation in my head (like you do) about getting meaningful, passionate work truly DONE. Here’s what we shared with each other.

What I Know Now, and Wish I’d Known at 17

1. Getting enough sleep doesn’t take time away from your dreams. It helps fuel you so that you have the emotional energy to bring your best self into them.

2. Just because it’s gotten hard, doesn’t mean you aren’t good at it.

3. Sometimes your standards for yourself go up before your skill itself increases. This recurring discrepancy might make you think your work’s suddenly gone down in quality. Hold space for all of you to grow.

4. You are not your dream and your dream is not you. Your enoughness doesn’t hinge on any accomplishment.

5. Just because it’s tremendously important doesn’t mean it has to be serious all the time. Laughing (lovingly) at yourself is a great coping mechanism when you are working towards dreams.

6. Don’t wait for the Muse to show up. Show up for her, every day. That’s how she’ll know you mean business… and she’ll start showing up even more for you.

7. It takes a lot longer than you might think to manifest the biggest of those big dreams. Make a plan and keep showing up. Be patient. You can do it.

What I Knew at 17, and Now Tend to Forget

1. When the Muse knocks on your door, invite her in and ask her to tea. Drop everything and create with her.

2. Having big dreams can be exciting and fun. It doesn’t have to feel like work to create and to move towards big dreams.

3. You don’t need to buy anything to make some version of what you’re dreaming of. Use whatever supplies you have already or can find for free.

4. One person who loves your work is an audience. They count. (Thanks always to my first-ever first readers, sisters Jennifer Kuleto and Erin Astrup, and mom Carole Hart.)

5. 36-Year-Old Me, you’ve given up on things I thought for sure I’d finish, and yet you’ve accomplished things I never would have dared to dream. I can’t wait to see what we do next.

6. Learn by doing. You don’t have to wait for an expert to show you. Start.

7. Put your work in the world. It’s got a long way to go, AND it’s already good enough.

What do you know about big dreams that you’d like to remind yourself of?

This post about ambition + diving in is part of Jenipher Lyn Gallardo’s Book Launch Blog Party, a celebration of her just-released book How Being Stubborn, Depressed and Unpopular Saved My Life. Jenipher’s book of doodles, quotes + stories is a super-awesome + inspirational book for tweens, teens and women of all ages.

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