In her book Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up, Professor Patricia Ryan Madison suggests that we say yes to more experiences in life, including supporting the dreams of others. Sadly, too often, I hear stories of how people face not only financial and academic obstacles, but also lack of support from the people in their lives:
- A student came by to pick up a copy of Tetrahedra (our literary magazine). She wanted to show it to her family because they said she wouldn’t be able to do anything in college. She wanted to show them tangible proof that she could.
- A friend told her best friend about something she wanted to do. The response: “What makes you think you’re special?”
- Another friend remembers being told by a professor that she was so gifted in art that it would be a shame if she didn’t make it her life’s work. Instead, she chose a government job because her mother didn’t believe she could make a living at art.
Let me be clear here. Our families love us and they want us to be safe and not get hurt. They are certainly not trying to kill our dreams but to protects us from danger. And, yes, there are some people out there who don’t want us to succeed. They think by keeping others down, they won’t have to deal with their own dead dreams. And then there are the realists: Every dreamer needs those to help keep the dream grounded. Still, there does seem to be a plethora of those who see the negative. And that’s not counting the number of negative things most people say to themselves each day.
So perhaps we should make an effort to be a cheerleader for those we care about:
- Say “yes you can” to students who are doubting themselves.
- Listen to someone’s plans without bringing up all the things that can go wrong.
- Don’t say “I told you so” when plans go awry.
- Offer to babysit or provide a quiet place for the person to work or study.
- Give a gift that encourages their dream. (I would suggest a book, of course.)
It’s nice to have someone in our corner. And everyone deserves that.