Who do I Think I am, Anyway?

It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! April’s theme is dealing with negativity. When you decide to go in a new direction you can encounter a lot of it, from yourself and others. In the past two weeks I spoke about that pesky voice inside my head and how I’m learning to understand it. This week I’m answering one of the biggest questions that nags at me when I start dreaming – who do I think I am, anyway?

The truth is that I have it pretty good. Actually, I have it more than pretty good, I have it really good. I live in Canada, I’m married to a man I love dearly, we have two beautiful children, and we own our own home. Well, the bank sort of does, but still. Between us, we have 3 computers and 2 cars. Our fridge is well-stocked with good food. My children each own more than 2 pairs of shoes. I own more than 10, even if I usually only wear 2 or 3. These facts mean that I am really freaking affluent, globally speaking.

When I start dreaming and writing lists and thinking about how great it would be to be totally fulfilled and have a house on the water and a super-cool bike, I sometimes start to feel guilty. I feel like maybe I am asking for too much. I feel like maybe I should just count my blessings, be grateful for what I have and not ask for anything else. I don’t want to be greedy and ungrateful. The more than 3 billion people in the world who live on less than $2.50 a day would give anything to enjoy the life I have. Who do I think I am, anyway, wanting more?

I struggled with this one for a long, long time. I think that cultivating gratitude is very important. I have been around the block enough times to know that this is the real secret to happiness. Buying a new handbag or taking a fancy vacation are fun, but in the long run they will not bring you the same sort of contentment that you get from acknowledging the bounty your life already contains. If I already have so much, and I want to be grateful, should I even be asking about my dreams?

Yes! Yes, yes, yes. And here’s why. When I set goals and pursue them I am not taking anything away from anyone else. Not a thing. I am also not denying that I already have a whole heck of a lot of good stuff in my life. Not for a second. There is a big, huge, monumental difference between asking myself what makes my heart sing, and feeling that I am somehow entitled to only good things in my life. Dreaming is not about wanting or entitlement, it is about tapping into the essence of yourself.

When you pursue your dreams, you are working hard. You are working with passion, to build and create new things. Along the way some people open businesses that employ others, create art that inspires us and establish charitable organizations that help the less fortunate. Following your heart enriches the world around you. When you’re doing work you love, you do more of it, more fully and more boldly than if you didn’t believe in your cause. People pursuing their dreams create Etsy boutiques and multi-national conglomerates. They advance the frontiers of science and stage fantastic plays. Their actions benefit us all.

So, to come back to my original question, who do I think I am anyway? I am no one special. I am a middle-class, thirtysomething, suburban mom. I am good at math and horrible at mini golf. I suck at chess, but I will kick your butt if you are so foolish as to challenge me to a game of Taboo. Like everyone, I have passions and dreams and fears and pet peeves. But I believe that you don’t have to be anyone special to follow your heart. I believe that passion is for everyone. That dreams are for everyone. And that they enrich our lives, and the lives of those around us.

In the end, I don’t think the question is who I think I am to pursue my dreams. It’s more like, who do I think I am, that I frequently ignore them? Who do I think I am, that I would rather hide than try? The world needs all of us to get in there, roll up our sleeves, and do some good work. Some passionate, soul-filled, dream-inspired work. I believe that. It’s hokey, and it’s a little bit rah-rah, but it’s also the truest thing I know.

April’s Crafting my Life series is about dealing with negativity. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be the 29th, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on this month’s theme anytime in April, or track down a post you’ve written on the subject sometime in the past, and add yourself to the list. Then read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out the link-ups from January, February and March to get a feel for how it works.

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  1. I can honestly say that I struggled with the same thing. Now, like you I practice gratitude. It really changes everything.
    .-= Mel´s last post ..An expat life =-.

  2. Amber –
    firstly, a huge thank you for wearing those soft micro-fibre dusting slippers as you wander round my head.

    secondly, thank you for writing this post. the same kind of ideas are formulating round mine right now for tomorrow’s friday forte post

    April is truly the month for reflection, deep thought and (hopefully) positive onwards progress 🙂
    .-= pomomama aka ebbandflo´s last post ..wordless wednesday: heading up to the surface and the light =-.

  3. Amber, Thank you for writing this! I agree 100%. What is it that keeps playing in our heads that we should not follow our dreams?
    I have been working hard to be true to them because my belief is that our dreams and passions are a reflection of the gifts that God has given us and if we do not use them then we not truly following God’s will.
    You have a wonderful site!
    Warm wishes, Tonya
    .-= Plain and Joyful Living´s last post ..Beauty and Joy =-.

  4. Three cheers for YOU Amber!

    You wrote down exactly what is running around in my head. And I agree that appreciating the many gifts in my “nobody” life is the secret to my happiness too. And dreams are GOOD for personal growth and the positive aspects of pregress.

    You put it down brilliantly. Now I think I will putter happily in my tiny garden and be thankful about it….
    .-= *pol´s last post ..Life goals update =-.

  5. I hear ya. I have so much. Who am I to dare to dream?

    I think those who pursue honourably (remembering to care for family, friends, planet and others) have a contagiously inspiring effect on those around them.

    And that can only be a good thing.

  6. Taboo?! If we ever have a match I’m afraid I will kick YOUR butt. I am the Queen of Taboo. At least I used to be. We haven’t played it for awhile but I am pretty sure I’m undefeated.

    As for pursuing your dreams, I think if you don’t have dreams there’s not much point to life. If you don’t at least try to follow your dream then it’s kind of a sad life one would lead.

  7. This is a big question. My negative voice usually answers. I will have to rethink that.

    Thanks for this.
    .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..Feeling sorry =-.

  8. Following your dreams is more about putting something great into the world than using up stuff for yourself. I think assessing what your passion is and using it is a great way to express gratitute for what you already have.

  9. Thanks for this. It’s a theme I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve also been wondering if I can be content with simply doing the things I feel passionate about, or do I need other people to consume my creative output (whether it be food, writing, music, or whatever) and comment upon it in order to feel like I’ve really made a difference in this world.

  10. Being grateful is important, but dreams are what encourage us to improve – ourselves, circumstances for others, the world, and more.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Not Math =-.

  11. Alyssa has a good point. I don’t see much contradiction in itself with being grateful for what we have, and looking forward to something new ahead.
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Cuckoo, 2 =-.

  12. Katie Stein Sather says:

    I admire you, and all parents, for the task they take on.

  13. Cara Purita says:

    I'm keeping this one. Thank you.

  14. I think the message you are telling yourself, that you’re “nobody special” is more negative than it should be. There is only one Amber Strocel in the world (maybe there are more people with the same name, but your genetic make-up is unique). Just think, if there was only one butterfly, one whale, or “anything”, the entire world would strive to overcome their differences and work together to save it because it is so rare.

    There is only one of you. And that certainly makes you somebody special.

    • I am absolutely not meaning to be negative when I say I am ‘nobody special’. I suppose what I am trying to say is that you don’t have to be a celebrity, or a super-talented artist or what-have-you to follow your dreams. I am, to most people, simply as special as everyone else. Which is a great thing to be. But, like many people, I have used my apparent lack of noteworthiness as an excuse, and I choose not to do that anymore. I hope the take-away here is positive – we are all capable of good things, and deserve to follow our hearts, even if we don’t always stand out from the crowd.

  15. I disagree…I think you ARE someone special! And yes, we all deserve to have dreams. It’s what makes us human, but perhaps what can set us a part, is to be grateful for the opportunities that we enjoy. Appreciating our great country and the blessings in our life is enough, finding a way to be valuable, contributing adults is enough, and pursuing grand schemes, if they make us happy and fulfilled is enough…and more importantly nothing to feel guilty about. Great post as always!
    .-= Christine LaRocque´s last post ..Plague of the perfectionist: Part 1 =-.

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