Friday, 18 January 2013

"Dream-makers and dream-breakers"

Over my years in FBLA, I listened to a lot of motivational speakers at conferences. As a teenager, I rolled my eyes at most of what they said. I didn't need motivating--I was an ambitious 16-year-old, taking advanced placement classes and touring Ivy League universities. This guy's job is to go around speaking to high schoolers, whereas I had set my sights higher than that.

One speaker in particular was mocked by us more than any other.  I can't remember his name, but he was middle aged and had been through some difficult experiences in his life (haven't we all?) that he wanted to share with us. The main idea in his spiel was that in our lives, there are two kinds of people that we'll encounter: dream-makers and dream-breakers. It's pretty self-explanatory--dream-makers are people who encourage us and support us in our ambitions, while dream-breakers shoot us down or put barriers in the way. In my 16-year-old eyes, it was the corniest thing I'd ever heard. He advised us to acknowledge and thank our dream-makers and to ignore any dream-breakers we might come up against. After the talk, my friends and I laughed and teased each other, "Hey, stop breaking my dreams, hahaha!" We joked with our FBLA adviser (who agreed that the talk was lame), "Mr. Colby, you're my dream-maker!" The concept of a middle aged man telling a group of ambitious teens about following their dreams seemed ludicrous. (Life coaches are hilarious for similar reasons--they're the ultimate example of the phrase 'those who can't do, teach.')

Now, a decade later, having seen a bit more of the world and experienced a bit more of life, I get it. At the time, I hadn't really encountered any dream-breakers. I was well-loved by my family and friends, didn't get bullied, teachers loved me, etc. My glowing recommendations, high grades & SAT scores predicted a brilliant future. I was surrounded by dream-makers and didn't know what it was like to have somebody discourage you from pursuing your goals. 

I've recently faced that in a couple of instances--I've met dream-breakers. Now I understand what he was going on about and I have to admit that he was right. It can be very difficult to tune them out and find the confidence and strength to defy them, especially when the 'dream-breaker' is somebody who used to be a friend, a supportive, inspiring dream-maker.

At times like this, motivational speakers don't seem so pointless after all. Thank you, whatever your name was, for a lesson that I'd only appreciate 11 years down the road. 

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