Are you prepared to have everything you ever wanted?
People say ‘always hope for the best but prepare for the worst’ in an attempt to be optimistic about their dreams and realistic about their nightmares, but isn’t it more practical to be equally prepared for both?
By Fouad Alaa
LAST NIGHT my girlfriend and I were watching ‘The Hunger Games’. After the movie ended she switched channels and settled on the mini-movie about Katy Perry. It was called ‘Part of Me’, a documentary film about her biggest international tour.
As any smart fellow who values peace and quiet in the relationship realm, I kept my objections and comments to myself and went into noise-canceling mode where I stare at the TV and think about absolutely nothing.
“Oh my God, babe, that’s so sad.”
I sensed a disturbance in the force when I heard my girlfriend say that, so I looked at the TV to find Katy Perry crying. Half-listening to the TV and my girlfriend, I discovered that Katy was crying because of the stress of having to prepare herself to sing in front of a live audience while dealing with her ending marriage.
From that point on until the show ended I realised that Katniss from ‘The Hunger Games’ and Katy Perry were the opposite sides of the same coin.
While Katniss was forced to win because of the nightmare of losing, Katy Perry was driven by a dream of success. Since both situations are long odds on opposite ends, this got me thinking.
What if I was suddenly faced with my dream or my nightmare?
At first I thought about my nightmare, which is failure. I would rather die a lonely achiever than live a full life without achieving my dream, which is to be a skilled cardiothoracic surgeon.
I had no problem thinking what I would do if I failed in achieving that goal because I’d always prepared for the worst. If the possibility of not being able to make it as a surgeon arose, I would consider other areas of interest to achieve in.
After I figured out what I would do if faced with my nightmare and how I would handle the aftermath, I thought about my dreams.
To my surprise, I found that I may be prepared to work for it but not ready for the repercussions of success. I’d mentally visualised how it would be finally practicing medicine or performing surgery. To get to that stage I thought all I needed to do was get into medical school and study like nobody’s business.
I never extensively thought about all the aspects of that lifestyle or even its effect on me or the people around me. Having a medical career means sacrificing most of my social life or turning into a workaholic because of the long hours or emergencies. To state it realistically, my life won’t be my own.
In Katy Perry’s case, she may have started her singing career in 1999, but it wasn’t until ten years later that she became recognised internationally by first her single then her album. Her dream came true and a dynamic shift for the better happened in her career; rapidly expanding fame and international tours that built a huge fan base.
However, the same dream career had a negative effect on her marriage and eventually she and her husband, Russell Brand got divorced because she wasn’t prepared that her dream would call for a sacrifice of her personal life.
We are hardwired by all our bad past experiences and disappointments, so much so we prepare for the worst, but conversely only hope for something a little better rather than the best.
For the possibility that something good happens, are we prepared?
At work, for example, if you are called to the boss’ office all of a sudden, it is inevitable for you to expect that one of the possibilities is that you are going to get fired. But what if it’s a promotion? Or being efficient enough that more is demanded from you? Before that particular moment happens have you thought about how prepared you are for the responsibilities of any advancement?
In relationships, if your partner called and asked, “Can we meet up? We need to talk.” the dominating thought at that moment would be about something wrong you did or the possibility of a break up. But what if it was about taking things to the next level? Before that moment happens, have you thought about how ready you are for the consequences of that positive step?
When we think about dreams or goals we always focus too much on exactly how to reach them, rather than preparing for what exactly we are going to do once we have achieved it and other things beyond that point. We try to avoid failing the quest but we don’t think about the complications of reaching the targeted destination, let alone how surprisingly burdening it can be to have exactly what you have always wanted.
It’s always good to be prepared in case we face our nightmares, but not being prepared for our dreams can limit the full scale of their positive effects or even worse: put us at risk of losing them all together.
The key point is to strike a balance that would enable us to be realistic about our fears and nightmares, and equally optimistic about our hopes and dreams.