Three years ago I embarked on a strange mission. I decided to volunteer for a new cause each day for a month, taking on a real-life superhero identity and writing about the surreal process.
Would it be successful? Would it be boring? What if I catch the flu halfway through and have to bail? Worst of all, what if nobody even cares and my mission becomes nothing more than a whisper in the night?
Listen closely: Every time you chase a dream, your mind will build a wall of “What If’s” between you and your ultimate goal.
The only way to tear that wall down is to bulldoze through it with the strength of your own determination to see that dream through.
“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.” – Richard Bach
Many people never see the realization of their dream simply because they were never able to stand on their tippy-toes and peak over the Wall-of-What-If’s. But if you look at the journey of others who have gotten beyond that wall, it can give you insight into the incredible garden that may well be blooming just on the other side of your own.
After months of deliberating, I finally pulled the mask over my eyes and took that first, iconic picture. I reached out and contacted those first few non-profits. Now I was locked in. Win or lose, I was going through with it.
The response was overwhelming.
What Happens When You Release Your Inner Hero?
Until you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone and pushed your limits, you don’t know how far you can go. In fact, you don’t know yourself. Make no mistake: Until you pursue your own dreams into the painful beyond, you don’t even know who you are. You don’t know what you can do. What if the next World-Changer is waiting quietly inside you while you sit on your couch? Go meet yourself! Get up!
I found out that when I am at my most exhausted, that’s when the cheers get loudest, and people encourage me to go on. Not only do I meet my true self, I also meet the kindest of the people around me.
You always read about small-minded people who discourage dreamers; I’ve only ever met those people when I’m sitting at home, stagnant.
I never meet them when I’m whooshing like a fireball, alive with passion. During those times, I meet other fireballs. Or I meet people who want to catch fire and fly towards their own dreams, but aren’t sure how to start, so they hold onto my coattails and fly along until they catch their own wind.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” – Paulo Coelho
I wouldn’t call my RLSH career a wild success, but I would never call it a failure either. You’ll find, once you burst through your “What-If Wall,” that once you start rolling towards your dreams, you often pick up more momentum as you go:
- I’ve met inspiring kind people, like-minded in their quest to help improve the world.
- I’ve seen a wealth of encouragement from old friends and new, and even heard from people I haven’t spoken with in years, who I had no idea even kept up with my writing, who wrote just to say they were proud.
- I’ve shared compassion and lent a helping hand to dozens in need.
- I’ve made several television appearances as a superhero. There’s one for the bucket list!
- Because of my extreme amounts of writing, I was offered two writing jobs for local magazines. Both of them allow me to continue writing about social change and community service and allow me an even bigger way of benefiting my local non-profits.
- I was the anchor speaker at a community talk, alongside the mayor, at PechaKucha on “Why the World Needs Superheroes.”
- I was able to raise several thousand dollars for a non-profit I love.
- During this time of struggle in our country, I feel empowered by my RLSH friends.
- When you’re surrounded by powerful people doing good, you just feel better.
See, this is the truth that waits for you on the other side of the wall. Behind all those worries and fears is this: You are capable.
“In order to live happily and freely, you have to sacrifice boredom. It’s not always an easy sacrifice.” – Richard Bach
Is it scary? Absolutely! Every time I walk into a new non-profit and introduce myself to strangers, I’m nervous. Baring my soul, success and failures, for all of you readers–that’s scary! Not getting enough sleep and relaxation time is challenging. The thought of standing up in front of my city in blue tights and talking on television in a costume is nerve-wracking.
You also might fail. But the failure teaches you how to NOT fail next time. Who cares if you’re embarrassed, if you end up with all you ever dreamed of?
“But how do I start? No one even knows I exist yet.” If you want to be a photographer, take pictures. If you want to be a business executive, get enrolled in some business classes or go to a networking seminar. Do you want to sing? Join a choir. Just get started! Once you start rolling, the universe takes over for you. God takes over for you. All you have to do is start, and you will watch as doors open and people rise up to support you.
Just. Do. Something.
Nobody knows who I am either. But I’m watching my dreams come true–from behind this blue mask. That’s how you become a superhero.
When you can’t go forward, and you can’t go backward, and you can’t stay where you are without killing off something deep and vital in yourself, you are on the edge of creation.” – Sue Monk Kidd