Your Dreams Matter. Period.

Your Dreams Matter. Period.

This is a guest post from my friend Britt. :)

The first time I truly interrogated the idea of abundance was when I was in graduate school in 2012. At this point, I had stumbled across tiny houses and the minimalist movement and it all made so much sense to me. Maybe it was being saturated in a higher education environment that urged critical thinking, but when I projected forward to what I thought my life would look like in 20 years, it did not include the traditional markers of success.

But when you tell your family (who generously helped pay for a portion of your education) that you want to essentially abandon any call to a high-powered (i.e. high-paying) career and want to build a tiny house, you can probably imagine what their reaction was like.

Of course, a high-powered career and living in a tiny house are not mutually exclusive, just look at the CEO of Zappos. But, in my case, I knew I wanted one because I didn’t want the other.

On the whole, or on the surface at least, my family is supportive of my ‘alternative’ lifestyle aspirations. Sometimes though, small comments here and there make me wonder if my dreams are good enough.

  • “You’ll get sick of each other in that small a space.”
  • “I don’t think you realize how small it will be.”
  • “It’s not going to be a good investment.”
  • “Do you even have plans or designs for it?”

My quick rebuttals to these comments are normally “No, we won’t”, “Yes, I do”, “That’s not why I want one” and “Exhibit A: My Blog”. I could write much more detailed posts dedicated to refuting each of these questions and comments, but that’s not a meaningful use of my time (nor would my family read them). If you have any sort of dream that is counter to the mainstream (a simple life, early retirement, a nomadic lifestyle, etc.), you probably know at least one person who has a knack for making your dreams feel small and not quite good enough. Even if, and sometimes, especially if, they mean well.

For me, ‘enough-ness’ has been something I’ve struggled with for years (or at least since elementary school). If there is a society upheld ideal, I’ve never quite felt like I’ve achieved it. I’ve never really felt smart enough, fit enough, strong enough, pretty enough, etc. This isn’t a pity party, it’s just the truth. I don’t really know where the feeling of lack came from, and, at this point, it honestly doesn’t matter.

Actually, that isn’t entirely true. I know exactly where my lack of enough-ness came from. My childhood, while wonderful in many ways was, oftentimes, filled with parental alcoholism and mental illness. As a young child, it’s hard to process those situations in the moment. I’m 27 now and I’m still coming to terms with all of it. And I’m sure I will be processing it for years. However, I’m not looking to lay blame. Ultimately, that won’t get me anywhere. What my childhood did leave me with was the sense that you might as well believe in your dreams, because no one else will. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Especially when there are entire industries that have been designed to make money off your sense of ‘enough-ness’.

It will likely come as no surprise to you that consumers in North America are sold the same version of what success and abundance look like. There may be some variation, but the general recipe looks something like this:

big house + fancy car + high-powered job = happiness/success/abundance

I want to make it clear that there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. If they are what you truly desire, that’s great! I think everyone should have a chance at the life they want, whatever that looks like for them.

However, since you’re here, on Cait’s blog, you are probably questioning this formula for abundance. Something about it might not sit right with you. You might not be able to put your finger on it, but you know it’s not for you.

What is more problematic than this equation, is the mindset that we are supposed to buy into. If we don’t want the ‘things’ in the equation, we’re not good enough (or we are made to think we’re not good enough). Our dreams don’t matter if they don’t fit into that narrow view of what abundance looks like.

But where does that leave you? If you aren’t buying (figuratively and financially) into this equation, what’s the next step?

Redefine it for yourself.

A dear friend and mentor of mine gave me this question to ponder during a retreat a couple of years ago. I think it sums up the idea of enough-ness perfectly.

“Others will tell you who they think you are, but if that doesn’t align with your gut or internal truth, how do you proceed in a way that is healthy for you?”

‘Others’, in your reality, can be family, friends, colleagues, or society as a whole. If any of what I’ve written so far has resonated with you, you can probably think of at least one person who imposes their idea of who you should be, onto you.

I can honestly say I’ve been pondering this question for years. What it has led me to is a reworked understanding of what abundance means to me (and no one else).

In my mind, ‘abundance’ are the things that bring you joy in life. I’m sure that’s different for every person reading this. It could be family, friends, experiences, health, etc. But, the fact remains, we can redefine it for ourselves if we want to —if our current definition no longer serves the view of what we want in our life.

What would an abundant, successful life look like to me?

  • Being able to contribute something meaningful to the world.
  • A modest home, filled only with things I truly love.
  • Being able to spend my time doing what makes my heart feel full.

The bottom line I’m trying to get at here is that your dreams matter. Period. Whatever you want for your life, I promise you that it’s good enough. Not ‘good enough’ in the sense of settling. No, I mean ‘good enough’, in that your hopes and dreams are important.

No matter how big or ‘tiny’ they are.

Britt is the blogger behind Tiny Ambitions—an online space dedicated to documenting her journey to simplify her life with the ultimate goal of building her very own tiny house!

  • Awesome post Cait! First off, we as Americans especially or anyone in the Western World have to realize that as compared to the 4 or 5 Billion other people in the world we already have abundance simply by where we live. Living in Western society, even if you are poor by Western standards, is abundance in and of itself. People who do not think this is true have certainly never traveled to sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan, Haiti, or any other number of destitute poor countries.

    you might as well believe in your dreams, because no one else will

    This is so very true, and you hear personal finance bloggers always say that you should not have a financial advisor because the only person that really cares about your money is you. It’s the same philosophy.

    • Thanks so much! I agree. All it takes is a little bit of perspective to realize all the good that exists in your life. Even if it isn’t the traditional definition of success – it’s still probably pretty great.

  • Great post Britt. It takes a lot of work to redefine what success and abundance means to each and every one of us. When we are caught in the rat race it can be hard to see. But sometimes when we step back or even forced to step back, we can really ponder these questions. Although sometimes we can come up with more questions than answers… We’ll that’s the case for me 😂

    • Thanks, Sharon! I think questions are just as important as answers – if you don’t know what you’re asking, you’re never going to be able to figure out the solution. And you’re right – a lot of it does come down to taking the time to really think about what you want (even if it’s not the norm). That’s not an easy task given how fast-paced we are told we need to live our lives! Thanks for reading!

  • I absolutely love this post, and I connected to it on a deep level. I too have questioned if the life I want is good enough. Now I am at a point in my life that I know it is good enough, but I have NO IDEA where to start or how to make it happen. It all seems so overwhelming and confusing that following the preset notion of ‘success’ almost seems easier. And sometimes I question if I am really cut out for the life I want? I can be quite lazy, and get stressed out very easily (these are not put downs, simple observations) and I don’t know if I would be able to grit my teeth and do what I would need to do to make my dream come true.

    • I feel your comment on so many levels! Sometimes it does seem easier to stick to the norm – that’s what everyone else is doing. Forging your own path and staying true to your goals takes so much more work. It can also be very overwhelming. I’m the same as you – I get overwhelmed quite easily and close up. I find it helps to take a minute (literally) and refocus on what your end goal/dream is. Visualizing your end game can make the journey easier to handle. Thanks so much for reading!

  • Hi Britt! I feel like everything you just wrote align so much with my beliefs and values. I think many people tend to associate having more thing (bigger house & nice cars) with their self-worth. But personally, I don’t need any of those though I wouldn’t mind a high-paying job to keep me occupied. One of my dreams/goals for the future is to join the tiny house movement and create one for myself – so will definitely check out your blog!

  • I’m guessing from your tone that you aren’t actually living in a tiny house yet, and as someone living in a tiny, one-room space and whose belongings fit into two suitcases… it gets old. Hopefully you don’t go as tiny as I’ve had to go…. I cannot wait until I can change it up and get back to a place with full sized appliances and space for a blender and a wardrobe wider than me and shelves to decorate. I do so miss filling shelves with pretty things/books/etc… but of course, if that’s not your dream, that’s not your dream. It’ll be interesting to see what you tiny house ends up looking like! Best of luck!

  • Dear Cait,
    I am a new reader, hopping over from Young House Love. How interesting that this is the post that was first on your blog! I spent an entire year with “Enough” as my theme. It was fascinating to me, as I rolled through those months, how wrong I had been about what “enough” was for me in various aspects of my life. There were so many places where I was denying myself when I didn’t have to and so many places where I was giving too much or allowing too much. As I made those adjustments and questioned the decisions and assumptions that got me there, I started feeling so much more peaceful. By the end of the year, I realized that I was enough to conquer my own life. It was a fascinating journey that I am still tweaking daily. I wish you great strength and much patience with life and yourself as you work towards your dreams. It sounds like you are well on your way. Congratulations on living such a self aware life at such a young age.
    All the best,
    The Other Marian

  • Hello Britt and Cait! :)

    Britt, what a truly outstanding post. Thank you for sharing the intimate story behind your struggles with worthiness with us. I’m inspired daily by your outlook and always grateful for your insights. Abundance/the meaning of success is a theme that is always coming up in the minimalist community and I love reading different people’s takes on it. Thank you for the timely reminder that whatever it is we want, it’s adequate and it’s worthy of dreaming about – and achieving!

Comments are closed.