When People Don’t Support Your Dreams Image

I still vividly remember waiting outside her office. Somehow I’d gotten the idea that getting my masters in France was my next big move but I didn’t know how to get from Pennsylvania to Paris. I’d asked one of my university advisors who referred me to an old professor I’d had when I’d just begun taking beginner French courses. Ok, I thought, she was nice and it’d be good to see her again.

The hallway leading to her office was long and dark, eerily quiet. Either I was early or she was late, but I happily reviewed my list of questions and piles of hopes while waiting. I had the energy to begin chasing my dreams and she was going to show me where to begin.

Sitting in her office, it was deceptively comfortable. The funky brown couch invited me to sit back and prepare to make my dreams happen. As she asked why I’d come, I started with “I’m wanting to pursue my masters at a French university, and my advisor suggested you’d have some ideas on where to start…” Don’t remember if I finished my sentence or not, but it was immediately counteracted by an assured and forceful, “Oh! You don’t want to do that!” Wait, what? I don’t? I spent the next hour not listening.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain

This, my readers, is my naysayer. We all have them in our lives. Sometimes they’re near strangers, other times they’re close friends or family. They convince you to open up about our dreams and you’re attracted by their genuine curiosity about what’s going on in your life. But then they leave us feeling a little hopeless and invalidated, making it seem our dreams are unreachable or not good enough. Why wouldn’t I want to move to Paris and study at a French university in my second language? She couldn’t even flatter my idea with a point de départ and send me on my way? She had to crush it with “you don’t want to compete with French students”? I don’t? Why not? Compete? Is getting a masters degree a competition with your classmates? Hmmm….

“Naysayers all have the same toxic tendency: they get off on popping bubbles, raining on parades, throwing wet blankets on ambitions, and farting on dreams.” – Torre DeRoche

If there was one helpful article I’ve ever read on dealing with the naysayers in life, it’s When People Don’t Support Your Dreams by Torre DeRoche. The playful, colorful article covers heavy material with a helpful dose of humor. It begs the question, what naysayer have I let control my life? How might my life be different if I hadn’t listened to those who don’t support me? And if I had?

Flash forward a couple of years from the meeting on the funky brown couch. I’ve just spent the entire month of February cramming hard for finals in French spanning the legality of works of art to the fateful moments leading up to Abstract Expressionism. I’ve learned how to analyze works of art and study the growth in emerging art markets, and for the first time I presented in my second language to a room full of French (*gasp*), something I had always been horrified to do. But I did it, and I’ll be doing it again when I defend my dissertation (not thinking about that yet).

I’m not going to lie, studying at an university in your second language is no easy feat. Sometimes I just want to scream with frustration at feeling like I’m unable to effectively communicate my ideas or portray my intelligence. However, I still can’t figure out why she thought pursuing a masters degree in my second language was such a bad idea. Besides, how many foreign students study at universities across America? Looking passed the sweat and tears it’s taken me to get here, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my naysayer {You can find our more regarding my path to Paris by clicking here}.

And for some “Dream Food“, have you ever noticed that the artists and works of art we place on the highest pedestals today are those that broke the mold of convention and set out to do something new and different? or were rejected at the time of their creation?

Are you letting your naysayer take the reins of your dreams?

Umbrella art by Kory Miller.

28 comments… add one
  1. Kasia Dietz March 4, 2012, 12:37 pm

    Great post! Thankfully you listened much more closely to the inner voice in your head than a negative professor. Continue to follow your path, and don’t let anyone dissuade you.

    I too have not let naysayers deter me from my goals. It helps to be an optimistic dreamer!

  2. Lindsey March 4, 2012, 12:53 pm

    Brilliant post! I’ve had plenty of people along the way tell me that my plans, however you might codify them, would amount to very little. All it takes is self-assurance and a supportive network, no matter how small, to propel you forward. So glad you followed your gut!

  3. Milsters March 5, 2012, 2:56 am

    Loved this post. It is so very true. The many naysayers I’ve had in my lifetime also made me realise that I should be careful when listening to other people’s dreams. Sometimes it’s so easy for us to identify our own naysayers, but so difficult to see when we’re one of those for someone else! Either way, life is meant to be lived one step of the heart at a time. Only you can tell the direction of those steps.

    1. Stephanie March 12, 2012, 3:27 am

      And even more detrimental is when we are in fact our very own naysayers! Keep following your heart! 🙂

  4. Ella Coquine March 5, 2012, 4:58 am

    Thanks for this post. It definitely hit home for me.

    I was engaged to someone who was constantly telling me that what I wanted to do with my life was silly and was pressuring me to go back to working in corporate, just so he could say his fiancee worked for so and so…even if it made me miserable. Looking back a year later, I can see just how unsupportive he was and sadly, how accepting I was of this criticism.

    Sometimes following your dreams means taking away that safety net, taking risks, having less income, and being super frugal but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. It took me almost 20 years to realize that work will always be there, but fulfilling your dreams..there’s a small window.

    This post made my day. Thanks! : )

    1. Stephanie March 12, 2012, 3:32 am

      Relationships can be tough like that – we’ve invited these people into our lives and sacrificed a lot to keep them there. Sometimes it can be really tough distinguishing between what needs a little attention in the relationship, vs when it’s time to move on. I’m glad you were able to let go of someone who was not willing to support your dreams. For me, my dreams are interwoven into who I am. Someone who is blatantly unsupportive of them is not someone who has taken the cares of my heart into consideration. Of course, sometimes people who care about us may help you rationalize out of a bad decision – but that’s different from not being supportive.

      I’m glad you found your path again! Best of luck and keep chasing after your dreams! 🙂

      1. Ella Coquine March 12, 2012, 10:55 am

        Thanks for your response, Stephanie!

        Best of luck to you and following your dreams! : )

  5. Bryan March 5, 2012, 6:20 am

    Lovely. You should send that wretched professor a copy of your memoire and some macarons. She was probably just jealous that she wasn’t going to Paris…

  6. Fleaing France March 5, 2012, 6:44 am

    You have no idea how dead on you are. I have never had so much opposition from people than when I announced I was moving. I am here and love it. Many of those who complained have fallen away from my life and at first it was sad, now it is freeing.
    Follow your dreams. You will never regret it!

    1. Stephanie March 12, 2012, 3:39 am

      Hey! Thanks for stopping by to comment. I love your blog! It is full of all the fun things I’d wanted to do when I first moved to Provence in 2010. But then I didn’t have a car and ended up isolated in my village with no means to explore 🙁 I hated it!

      When I announced I was moving to France to co-workers at my last job in the US, most were concerned about wether or not I knew anybody. When I said no, they were shocked I’d go through with it. As I’m still here, I think most think I’m living a very stereotypical life : She moved to Paris to “study” art. That’s an example of someone who doesn’t take your dreams seriously!

      Glad you’re loving life in France! Your blog really took me back to Provence!

  7. Susan March 8, 2012, 8:31 am

    This is so great Stephanie, and I’m so very glad you followed your heart and didn’t listen to that naysayer! I have always followed mine too, and I’m convinced it has never led me down the wrong path. An inspiring post!

    1. Stephanie March 12, 2012, 3:42 am

      I’d have to say the best thing about moving to Paris is that it’s surrounded me by very creative dreamers from all walks of life! I’ve weeded through the crowd and am now at the top with all the others who broke away from convention and into a unique and amazing adventure! You’re certainly one of them! 🙂

      1. Susan March 12, 2012, 9:55 am

        Aw, thank you Stephanie…*blushing*!

  8. Phil Vasquez March 8, 2012, 10:19 am

    I have a knack for finding myself in situations where an idea or decision that seems completely normal to me somehow really frightens or bothers people around me. And then they feel the insuppressible desire to serve me a triple cocktail of what could go wrong, how hard it will be, and always topping it off with a reminder of how I might look if it all goes wrong. I learned that those arguments respectively actually mean, “I could never do that”, “I’d never want to work that hard”, and “I would never do anything that makes me look different”.
    Luckily, I’ve never had the desire to live my life by any of those last three statements. But the professors of my life have been useful in helping me realize who I am and what I want. It’s not about proving them wrong (which I’ve done) but about going forward knowing what others think the risks are.
    You’re stronger for having made up your own mind. Congratulations.

    1. Stephanie March 12, 2012, 3:49 am

      It sounds like you’ve found some amazing people who enjoy helping those who are inspired to do something different. That professor does not represent the whole, but she stood out because of her role as career counselor. I did listen to the professor who inspired to continue on to my masters degree – though she would have preferred it be in Art History I’m sure! I know she’d still support me in each of my ventures.

      Those three comments make me think of that Mark Twain quotation I posted above…

      1. Phil April 4, 2012, 1:12 pm

        I have found some helpful people but I’ve also had a lot of people like that professor. What I meant when I said that the professors of my life have been useful, is that I’ve also had those same people who have given me the “professional” but negative advice to not try certain things but it was useful in the sense that it gave me the opposing argument and I always like to know all the angles, even the unfavorable ones when I make any decision. Of course, there’s a little pleasure to be gained from proving them wrong as well.

  9. Virginia March 8, 2012, 8:49 pm

    I’m in awe of your guttsiness and fortitude and burning desire. I look back and wish I’d had the opportunity. I came to this new career after my retirement and it’s been a blessing, a delight and a passion. We find our dreams when we’re meant to I think. You go right ahead and make yours happen.

  10. Chad @Road Dog Travel March 9, 2012, 1:34 pm

    Nice, inspirational post. Some naysayers may genuinely feel they are helping you make a rational decision, but I think many are people who didn’t follow their dreams and may be jealous of someone who is. Congrats on following yours!

  11. Vivi March 11, 2012, 5:11 pm

    Personally, I try to almost always listen to what they have to say (after all, there are some times when they are in fact saving you from making a mistake), but always take it all with a huge grain of salt. You have to look at whether they’re giving you real advice, or if it’s just based on their own regrets/mistakes/failures/god knows what.
    And it’s always all worth it when you can prove them wrong as you have clearly done 🙂 Brava!

    1. Stephanie March 17, 2012, 4:04 am

      Hey Vivi – I think when people have advice to share, it’s great to listen. But a naysayer really isn’t sharing any advice, they’re just putting out the fire. It’s important to distinguish between those who are really trying to help or share some insight, and those who are quick to rain on your parade. Either way, it’s always fun proving people otherwise!

  12. Laetitia March 20, 2012, 8:53 am

    Very inspiring post ! So many people think we’re crazy for moving overseas, changing careers… Who knows, some might just be jealous 😉 You were right not to listen to them. Keep following your dreams !

  13. Jenny March 21, 2012, 5:37 am

    Great post Stephanie, thanks for sharing, it’s a good reminder to all of us to believe in our dreams. This quote resonates with me: “You don’t need to justify or explain your dreams. They belong to you” (Paulo Coelho).

    1. Stephanie April 2, 2012, 4:36 pm

      I love that quotation! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  14. Hannah March 31, 2012, 8:12 am

    I definitely understand how you feel – I’m going to do an Uni exchange in France next year, and when I went to discuss the possibility with an adviser I was completely shot down. I’ve never felt so disheartened by a single person before! I think the worst thing about these people is the patronising assumptions they seem to make – that because it will be difficult, you won’t want to do it, or that you haven’t thought it through properly. This guy clearly expected that I’d go ‘oh, it’s going to be hard? Well I won’t bother then.’

    So thank you for this post, and your whole blog – it’s been very inspirational to me while I’ve been working so hard to make my dream come true.

    1. Stephanie April 2, 2012, 4:34 pm

      Sounds like you had a similar experience. Sadly, I don’t think we are isolated incidences. There is really only a slight chance you’ll regret Paris and if you really do hate it and feel like studying abroad is ruining your life (can a few months out of a lifetime really ruin it?), then you could always just go back home. I think more people regret not studying abroad…

      I think you’re doing the right thing in ignoring those who don’t support you and moving forward with what you want. Keep it up and good luck!

  15. Danielle August 12, 2013, 2:29 pm

    I have to keep this comment brief, but I just wanted to say thank you–for writing this a few months ago, and then tweeting it today. I really needed to read it 🙂

    1. Stephanie August 12, 2013, 2:35 pm

      🙂 Happy to hear that! Keep your head up and continue chasing your dreams!!


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