What’s holding us back?

Live the life you've dreamed of.
Live the life you’ve dreamed of.

It’s my birthday-eve, and I admittedly get reflective around this time each year (as if I’m not reflective every day of my life). Before writing this, I took a look back at the last few years of birthday posts – and most of them are similar in fashion; I’m really just trying to forget the fact that another year has passed without me really reaching any of my life goals, while somehow simultaneously trying to get my life in some sort of order.

Truth be told, I’ve had such a shitty few weeks that it’s not really worth me worrying over the baskets of unfinished laundry or seemingly never-ending stack of bills that’s attacking my small income.

What I really want to know is, where is this all going? And please, spare me the Jesus talk. I’ve heard it plenty of times, and it’s not my thing, and let’s just leave it at that.

I started thinking about this a few weeks ago while listening to Chris Gethard’s podcast, “Beautiful Stories by Anonymous People”.

It’s episode 15, “The Hardest Part is That You Love Me”, and it’s a 25-year-old woman from California, and she claims she’s experiencing her quarter-life crisist. Preach, girl!

She is questioning where her career is going, and she’s convinced that instead of picking something she wants to do, she needs to let the universe gather information and guide her to where she needs to go (she’s admittedly a California hippie).

Eventually, he asked the caller what was keeping her from living her dreams… and whoa; that really got me thinking. I think about my hopes and dreams a lot; but never in those terms.

And the thing is, I think most of the time, we’re keeping ourselves from living our dreams over fear of failure. Right? Sure, there are other little excuses that could live in the way – money, location, people, etc. But when you REALLY think about it – what is it, what’s that thing that’s holding you back?

I found an old article in “Forbes” magazine, “The Lies We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” that talks about this exact subject.

“Always the easiest move is to do nothing. The path of least resistance is well worn. It’s when we decide to do something that things get trickier. It’s difficult to determine when we’re being cautious or being fearful. After all, we’re masters at rationalizing our fear into prudence.

Fear exists for a reason — protection. That same fight-or-flight response that prevented us from being eaten by tigers also warns us when our mental selves are in danger. Fear feels bad, and we want it alleviated.”

All very true. Sure, we’re afraid of failure, but what about when failure becomes the comfort zone? I think about this a lot in terms of dating. I know failure very well in relationships; I know it so well I’d venture to say that heartbreak is my homebase.

I know how to mend my heart when it’s hurting – it’s almost sad how sad of a science it’s become. I have certain go-to movies; comfort foods and positive phrases. I pack the memories in boxes and toss them in dumpsters; I ritually delete things from my phone and inbox. And with each time, the failure gets easier to get over, almost scary in a way, like the relationship was just a means to an end.

…Which explains why I’m terrified of something actually working. What does that even look like? What is that like, when a man introduces a woman to his family with no other intention but to include her in his life? Or when he does something for you with the hopes of nothing in return but your happiness?

But what about other hopes and dreams? Maybe it’s taking a trip, writing a book, running a marathon, recording a song, winning a contest – would it kill us to fail at something like that?

Many of my dreams involve living certain places or getting published… and I’ve failed plenty of times at that. But perhaps my fear is just never being successful at it; then I’d be crushed. Or would I? I’ll never know until I try, right?

In the podcast episode, Gethard tells the California girl a similar sentiment; that before he became a comedian, he was afraid of discovering the sting that he just wasn’t good at it. But, eventually he got his first big gig (right before he was about to run out of rent money).

But he packs a lot of truth in saying that there’s one reason you SHOULD try to go after your dreams: happiness. That one reason outweighs the 100 reasons you shouldn’t do it.

And yeah, I can get behind something like that. So, this weekend, I’m old AF, and I don’t care. I’m getting drunk, I’m eating all the foods I never let myself eat, and I’m sleeping in. Maybe I’ll make a dreamboard; maybe I’ll start writing the script I’ve got in my head. There’s another year ahead, in the adventures of me.

So, if you really want to wish me a happy birthday, I’d love to know what your dreams are. Maybe you’ve reached them, and how? Or how do you plan to reach them? Or what’s stopping you from going after what you want?

Let’s dream it, and let’s do it. This year.

Follow Holly on social media @OrangeJulius7 to catch up on her weekend antics (really just cat pics). We’ll see you right back here on Tuesday!


  1. peelermc

    I’ve learned that as I get older, some of my dreams change; you may let go of some and realize others. Dreams aren’t concrete. I’ve also learned that while I’m wishing and hoping for those dreams to happen, that an actual life is happening. You have done more than I ever dreamed at your age: you up and moved by yourself to city where you knew no one, you are pursuing your dream of writing, maybe it’s not turned out the way you’ve wanted – yet – but you’re doing it. Happiness and dreams are all relative. One day you’re going to look back and think what a crazy adventure this has been. Happy Be-lated birthday!

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