Langston Hughes' poem, “Harlem,” opens by asking a very thought-provoking question: “What happens to a dream deferred?" The poem continues much of the same way throughout, hypothesizing the whereabouts of deserted dreams and ends with Hughes never answering. I didn't mind, though — I'm not sure I ever want to find out.
It should be a mission for each and every one of us to make sure our loved ones' dreams stay alive. What we often fail to recognize is that through support, encouragement and love, we all have the opportunity to keep our own dreams alive and our loved ones', as well.
Like your dream, the dream of a friend, family member or child is significant to more than the dreamer alone. We should be our loved ones' biggest fans because, sometimes, our support may be the only thing keeping a dream from dying.
The power of a push
Dreaming is a scary business. Telling yourself you will pursue an idea, passion and talent, regardless of the odds that are against you, is a feat not many people have the luxury to uphold.
When you see an up-and-coming band, a newly-formed business or an artist finding his or her craft, it’s beautiful, no matter how small it is. It’s easy to look at those pursuing their dreams and only see how far they have yet to go rather than the distance from where they've come.
Putting forth that first foot is difficult, and a push does more than you might be able to imagine.
So, when a friend dares to act on a lifelong ambition, it becomes our inherent responsibility to be instrumental in making sure the dream does not die. We become the support system, the fan, the motivational coach, the lifeline, or whatever it takes to ensure that the friend doesn't lose faith in his or her dream.
Our friends are more than the random people who pass in and out of our lives; they are individuals who, through a mutual relationship of love and support, have grown into who they are today.
The more you believe, the more they will, too
Believing in ourselves is paramount to chasing our dreams. We have to see ourselves doing it before it can be done. That is why the support of a friend goes beyond actions alone. Your support mentally ignites the mind and emotionally backs the heart.
When we show up for friends' concerts, buy their music, frame their artwork, listen to their ideas and share the pieces they publish, we are doing more for them than we oftentimes realize.
Not having the right amount of belief in your own dream can keep it grounded and keep other people's dreams grounded, too.
Holding each other accountable
As we grow older and the benchmarks we set for ourselves grow closer, we can sometimes get discouraged. Reality sets in and what we saw for our futures suddenly is forced to change in order to accommodate our current circumstances.
Rent, car notes and cell phone bills unfortunately can’t be placed on hold in favor of our professional progress. The associated disappointment makes it easy for us to allow these situations to become roadblocks, permanently hindering us from reaching a place we intended to go for so long.
It’s a deflating process that, with the accountability of a friend, can be avoided.
Things worth having usually don't come easily. That mentality is something we, and our friends, must have when chasing dreams -- a mentality we should not let each other forget.
The struggling musician (who works two jobs when not performing gigs), the aspiring entrepreneur (who constantly pitches his ideas to you about the next big thing) and the writer (who believes every day will bring his big break) are all people fighting the good fight in pursuit of their dreams.
The second we give up on them is the moment a dream loses its life support. The fate of our friends' aspirations often hangs in the balance of our support, and it’s time we recognize that.
I hope I never find out what happens to a dream deferred. It’s a question I hope I will never be able to answer personally. More importantly, every day, I will make sure it’s something my friends can never answer for themselves.