Dreamers, lovers, and basically anyone who isn’t totally apathetic have been made to feel less than simply because they feel something or something different than their less aspirational counterparts. You know what I’m talking about, when you are telling someone your hopes, dreams, loves, or fears and get the one response that makes your blood boil (or worse, makes you numb). Come on, be realistic or Why can’t you be more logical? or Feelings aren’t everything are basically the most unwanted statements that we believers want to hear. Not only do we not want to hear it, but it’s actually very damaging to us as people, not to mention to our relationships.
Maybe we’re dreamers, thinkers, and feelers. Maybe we simply cry at sad movies or maybe we have ambitions so big that most people couldn’t even comprehend attempting something so out of their comfort zones, but I am just one of many who are sick and tired of being told to be realistic about the things we are most passionate about.
I’ve been told to be realistic about my career choice, my desired income, work boundaries, my body, my home, my expenses, and what I am looking for in a relationship, amongst many other things. While I could break down each of those individually, I think it’s important to note that if someone is telling you to be realistic without any sound advice or logic to back up their argument, they are probably just intimidated or unable to think outside of the box.
The underlying desire of the person telling you or I to be realistic is to bring us down to the person’s level of understanding in order to make that person more comfortable with himself or herself. And while it’s important to have realistic expectations in life, it doesn’t mean that you should lower your expectations. It is entirely possible that the standards of those telling you to be realistic are, in fact, too low.
Even I can admit that being ignorant to the reality of life is a dangerous slope to go down. While some people may genuinely handle every situation in life with their heads in the clouds and no real structure to any dreams they are creating, many of us are actually dreaming with a purpose and real plan. We want fulfilling careers, families, relationships, etc. We know what we want, and we are willing to work hard for it.
But be realistic is a cop out. It’s basically a way for others to bring you down, or to make sure they don’t have to jump through that ring of fire with you. And, sometimes, it’s an attempt to keep you on the ground with them, where they don’t have to compete or feel any sense of failure within themselves.
When others tell us to be realistic of our decisions and choices in life it is coming from their lack of trust in our own logic and personal value. Think about it: I have the brainpower to decide how much my work skills are worth within my field, therefore I have the ability to shoot for my high expectations rather than existing on the ground level. Because it’s my life that I afford with my income, I get to dream about the house I will one day have and yes, decorate with the prettiest granite countertops and beautiful copper cookware. I get to purchase that big-ticket item because I am capable of budgeting and working hard to earn something. I get to dream about my future career moves and I get to set the standards of how I want to be treated by the person I am choosing to date. Why? Because I choose to live up to my high standards and expectations through hard work and determination.
But be realistic.
Realistically speaking, some of the greatest things in life wouldn’t have come into existence if people didn’t shoot for the stars and make their seemingly “unrealistic” ideas into a new reality. Think about Steve Jobs and his creation and development of one of the most powerful products in the world, or Yvon Chouinard and his desire to make products sustainable while simultaneously fighting consumerism. And don’t forget about Sophia Amoruso, who created a massively successful brand with hard work, no degree, and a history in petty theft, redefining the definition of success for many self-starters around the world.
So if you’re being told to be realistic about your career, understand that your ambitions and high expectations for yourself are not faults, but are actually gifts that many people don’t possess. It’s rare, honorable, and something you should make the most of.
If you’re being told to be realistic in your relationship, it’s actually the other person saying “Wow, you’re holding me to a high standard that I don’t think I can live up to.” In which case, run. If you are asking them to perform some grand romantic gesture every day, then sorry, but you’re probably being too demanding and that’s something you might want to look into. But if you’re asking for respect and love and it seems too much for the other person, then like I said, run. There will be someone out where who will respect your desires and is worth waiting for.
Here’s what the phrase “be realistic” is actually saying: You really think you can achieve that?, Do you actually think you deserve something that great?, and Wow, I would have never come up with that myself. All of which, in case you were wondering, come from places of insecurity, not logic or reality. Consequently, the same people who are belittling your ambitions or feelings are also the same people who aren’t dreaming very big. And that’s okay for them, but it doesn’t make it okay for you.
So next time someone tells you to have realistic expectations, make sure what that person isn’t really saying is lower your expectations. Because if you hold yourself and those you surround yourself with to higher standards, your life will be filled with quality, and this world will become a much better place.