Updated: May 16, 2020
What kind of a dreamer are you?
Are you a dream big, the sky's the limit, reach for the stars kind of dreamer? Or do you dream to make it happen; a plan ahead, set attainable goals kind of dreamer?
I'm definitely a big dreamer. I have a great imagination, and I can come up with so many impossible scenarios. This can be both good and bad. As I've mentioned before, I fear a lot. That is a direct result of my overactive imagination. The flipside is that I can also come up with some pretty neat ideas.
The same mind that comes up with those imaginative ideas also comes up with all the ways they could go wrong.
Which often leads to me not pursuing my dreams. They're too big. There's no way I can do that. It's just a dream, not reality. I can't. I won't. And then I don't.
Sometimes, "can't" is the case. I might not have the particular skills or resources needed to make my dream happen. But that doesn't mean I should stop dreaming. It is okay to dream big just for the fun of it. To think about what puppy you would adopt if only your landlord would allow it. To imagine how your perfect wedding would be, even if there's no significant other in sight. To think about owning a house, the layout of the rooms and how you'd decorate them.
Dreaming big is an amazing gift. It's spurred on by creativity and wishes. There are many people who are unable to conceive thoughts beyond the immediately achievable, and I've heard from some of them that they wish they could imagine like us big dreamers.
We just need to find the balance.
If we let the dreaming take over, it is no longer a gift, but a burden.
I've used dreaming big as a way to cope with things like bullying in school and social anxiety*. It took me out of the stressful situation I was in and placed me in a space that I wanted to be, where I could make everything good and right and happy. But I always had to leave that dream and return the reality that my dream did nothing to change.
Dreaming small and dreaming big are two sides of a coin that I am constantly turning over in my hand. I keep going back and forth thinking "this one is better," then listing the attributes of the other and changing my mind.
To define how I view big versus small dreaming:
Dreaming big means having the ability to think up how you would like to live or like the world to be around you, even if it is unlikely to become a reality. It is coming up with high standards, wishing for perfection, or setting difficult to achieve goals. Dreaming big can be difficult.
Dreaming small means having the ability to notice how even the most basic interactions can affect the world around you, even if it seems unlikely to make a difference. It is being intentional with every action, wishing to make a difference, or giving yourself and others grace. Dreaming small can be difficult.
Becoming an adult and gaining more responsibilities has been beneficial to how I dream. I do still dream big, but often now it is simply for fun and not to cope. I've found it is much more enjoyable to dream big and then think about the little things I could do to potentially make it a reality.
The balance is this: wishing for what you'd like to happen and realizing that, even if you might not be able to achieve the whole thing, doing your part is still better than doing nothing.
I remember when all that anyone wanted for Christmas was world peace. I hear that wish less and less now, and I wonder if it's because people are tired of dreaming big. There are few things more overwhelming to a single human being than trying to bring about world peace.
For one thing, even in this digital age there are only so many people that one person can reach to interact with or influence. And for another, evil is blatantly rampant in our world. The news and social media don't let us forget that for one second.
But even in the overwhelming, even in the big dreams where that is way too much for one person to accomplish, there is a purpose.
We are given big dreams to guide our small dreams.
My big dream may be for world peace. But my fear says, "what can you do? You're just one person." To that, my small dream replies, "I can do one kind, little thing that might bring peace to another person today."
If not for my bigger dreams, I would have nothing to guide my small dreams and goals. Day-to-day interactions would feel tiring and pointless. And if not for my small dreams, my big dreams would be useless and idle. They'd leave me feeling helpless.
It is possible to dream both big and small.
It's not always easy. Sometimes I would love to fall down a rabbit hole of big dreams that lead nowhere, coming up with a never-ending supply of whims and ideas of what a happy place would be. That is my go-to as a big dreamer. But ultimately I wouldn't be happy because there's nothing I can do to turn every big dream into a reality.
And though I might not know all the difficulties of being a small dreamer first-hand, I'm certain there are just as many. Rejection, lack of purpose, negative reactions that lead to pessimism. Having your dream received and disregarded because the person you told wanted to know why.
Reconciling the two, I believe, is the best way to dream at all. It's the way that will lead to intentional, purposeful action and interaction.
It's the type of dreaming that I want guiding me.
What are your thoughts on dreaming big versus dreaming small? Do you find one much harder than the other? Feel free to comment your thoughts or, for a more private conversation, send me a message about it on the About page of my website.
*NOTE: I have not been clinically diagnosed with social anxiety by a doctor. Based on research, the experiences of others, and how certain social settings can make me react (especially when I was a young child) I have come to believe that I have experienced social anxiety to some degree. Please realize that this is undiagnosed and that I am not an expert on the subject.