You Can Be A Dreamer And Be Realistic
Photography by Ben Gibson.
Oh well, me? I’m a huge dreamer. I dream of constellations. But i’m never not realistic.
Lets go back in time to about 2010. Ish. When you start getting old, you know years blur into one and memories fade from being as specific as they were. To me 2007 still feels like yesterday but the reality is, it’s been 10 years. In and around 2010 I was recovering from being a really poor student. I was very sad, very depressed and I would go to the doctor to try and get tablets for my insomnia problem which had spiralled since moving to London two years prior. I usually slept at 7am and would have to wake up at 10am for my lectures in those years. I also went out a lot at the weekends and I drank a lot of alcohol to try and escape how sad I felt all the time. It just made everything worse. This period in my life to me feels like a little blackhole of sadness. Why was I so sad? Well, I hated my Uni degree so had quit it. I hated my job – I worked in a shop. I hated the fact I couldn’t afford clothes so I bought all my clothes from the charity shop and I didn’t always feel like ‘me’ in what I wore. I also didn’t really realise at the time but I hated my boyfriend too, he was so horrible to me and I was so blinded by it because it felt normal at the time that I didn’t realise to what extent it was making me sad. I also wanted to go out in London and live the life I dreamed of, the bright lights, the city – but it was something I couldn’t afford, something I couldn’t reach. I was there but it was out of my grasp. Just something I could only aspire to and watch out of my window that overlooked the London Eye in the distance and was always full of happy revellers. For me I was lucky if i gathered together enough pennies to afford a takeaway. Even that was a proper luxury for me then. So I was a teenager really, 20. You think you’re really grown up at that age, but you’re not. Nothing is meant to fall into place for years, even though you feel the weight of it on your shoulders like it should.
I never stopped dreaming though. Nope, pretty much never.
Even though I often felt so sad I cried myself to sleep and woke up with swollen eyes and tear stained pillows at 5am for my 7am retail shifts, I never stopped believing or dreaming that I could change my situation and do more. You can dream about these things, but you can keep them realistic, too. I knew I wouldn’t be able to ‘win the lottery’ as it were with my job situation overnight, so I spent a lot of time scouring the internet for new opportunities, new positions. It took months and months. One finally popped up on my timeline, a fully paid internship at Glossybox, a German company looking to launch in the UK. Glossybox wasn’t a known thing at the time, no one had ever heard of it and it was about a month old. However, they had sent me one to try, which I had unboxed and opened on my pretty-much-dead YouTube channel, so *I* had heard of it. For me this was my golden ticket. I used the fact that they had sent me the box prior and already knew me, but I didn’t rest on that. I knew I had to prove myself, me, a University dropout with no degree qualification and not a single scrap of prior experience in digital marketing and PR. So, I made a cover letter which was my own box. The ‘Zoebox.’ And inside the Zoebox there were about 8 different qualities that made me stand out from the rest. At least, I hoped. I spent hours painstakingly photoshopping everything to match carefully their website and their brand. I got the job. For me this was 1% of my bigger dream beginning to look real. I worked tirelessly and hard, and I was beginning to see the start of it paying off.
I’m not going to bore you with my life story, but that ethos has never left me.
You kind of all know how the chapters continue from there because it played out in front of your eyes. Some of you, anyway. If not, to summarise: I blogged alongside the 9-6pm job as a hobby, and I never, ever, ever quit. Or let it beat me. I saw other bloggers in America honestly living the dream, and then bloggers from the UK started to get whisked away on trips, gifted lavish items and living a truly amazing life. I knew I could achieve a similar level of success if I tried, but realistically I knew I could never be who my dear little friend i’d spent the day at Fashion Week was becoming. Her name is Zoe Sugg, and I, have watched her right in front of my eyes transform into the most beautiful, most radiant and most incredible butterfly admired by the whole world. She had and has a dream too, just like me. Hers was realistic and achievable, but it took on new heights no one ever knew a butterfly could fly to. I knew, because I knew Zoe could do it. But i also stayed very grounded in knowing that while Zoe could soar higher than the stars themselves, I knew my butterfly wings couldn’t carry me that high. And that is in no way bitter, or resentful, but grounded. Because I knew that by taming my butterfly wings in the way that’s right for me, I could achieve things that were most amazing, more beautiful than I could ever imagine. And they were right for me, the correct narrative for my story.
I do find it hard to not compare myself to others.
While 80% of the time i’m happy floating in my own little bubble, sometimes curiosity gets the better of me and I do spend time looking at other bloggers in my situation too. I never get angry or resentful because the people I look at and look up to are some of the most humble, hardworking humans on the planet. I wish that I could do what they do, and sometimes I do get a bit sad that I can’t and haven’t, but i’ll never stop being happy for them. I think that’s where the title of this post comes in to me the most, to my brain and my thought processes and something that I constantly need to remind myself: you can dream whilst being realistic. You really, really can. While you really should have those wild daydreams that take you away to paradise, you should know that within your own life and the circles you have formed, you are capable of achieving things within your realm of reality, and of truth. You can get yourself out of situations you hate or that make you sad, without needing to think you must own the world. I did, and i’ve never been happier. I didn’t make it unachievable, and I knew I could do it, that’s why.
I don’t think everyone has the same path, and that’s not easy to swallow.
We’re not all meant for huge successes, for riches or for everything. It’s tough when you have to realise that, and as a daydreamer, I almost want to challenge it constantly. I think it’s fine to challenge what you think you can do, and push yourself to do more, but remember that not everyones story is destined to read the same. With over several million books on just one Amazon Kindle, why would you read the same book over and over? And why should you fixate yourself on just one book? Fixate yourself on an amalgamation of books, a little paragraph here and a whole chapter there. Write your own story, the one that’s right for you. Every day I feel criticism and I feel sad because i’m not as pretty as others or i’m not as rich as others. But I tell myself – some days a little louder than others – that that was just not meant to be my path. There really is no universal right or wrong answer to which path will end up being yours, but you do have the choice to change it. If your path is looking grey and sad like mine was, do whatever you can to get your hands on even a small pot of the bright yellow paint you need to make it better. Don’t ever stop dreaming, for you’ll become even sadder if you don’t let your brain touch the sky. But do remember that you can dream within a realistic measurement, and you too can make those little changes, for happiness.
I need to remind myself this every single day. I wrote this not for me, but for you. To remind you. You’re going to have a wonderful week ahead.