What price your dreams?

February 20, 2010 at 19:33 (1)

I received the following email from a fan called Sophie. I know I posted on a similar subject not too long ago, but felt it worthy of commenting again, since I’m sure it’s something that many of you reading this have had to or will have to deal with at some point (maybe even several points) in your life:

I’m pretty sure at some point in your life you had to make a choice between following your dreams or not. I’m 16 and I want to be a musician. I love music, it can change my mood completely and I’ve practiced hard. When I told my parents, I wasn’t really sastisfied with my dad’s reaction. My mom just said, “It’ll take a lot of work, but I believe in you.” My dad said, “Sophie, if I let you do that, I’ll be allowing you to make the biggest mistake of your life!”

Obviously, that’s not what I wanted to hear. My dad doesn’t believe in me and neither do half the people in my family. The other half know how much work I’ve put into this. When I was 5 I started taking guitar lessons, now I’ve learned how to play 9 instruments-guitar,bass guitar,drums,piano,violin,bass,trumpet,banjo,saxaphone, and I’ve tried my best on vocals-I don’t think my dad understands how much I want this. I know it’s stupid, but I’m kind of afraid of disappointing him, and what if I don’t make it? What if I screw it up? What if all my work was for nothing? What if my dad’s right? There’s not a 100% guarantee people will like me. Heck, I don’t even think there’s a 50% chance people will like me! I’m not even sure I want to try anymore. As someone who knows what it feels like to be this confused, do you think you think you could help me out?

Here’s what I wrote to Sophie in reply — hopefully it might come in handy for others of you out there going through the same thing, no matter what your particular dream might be:

Only YOU can decide how important your dreams are to you. I went for mine from a very early age.. I knew there was a good chance that I wouldn’t succeed financially but that didn’t matter to me — I would rather be doing what I love and scraping by, than earning lots of money doing something I didn’t really want to do.Β  From chatting with other writers, I know I’m something of an exception — most tread a middle ground, learn a trade or go into a profession like teaching when they are young, then focus on their writing when they are a bit older and better experienced at managing their time (e.g. Eoin Colfer). Your Dad is being practical, the way most fathers would be — he’s concerned that you might end up in poor financial position. Ultimately you have to listen to both your head and your heart and choose the path that feels right for you. If you want security and safety, go the route of balancing your musical dreams with the demands of the real world. If you’re a gambler who’s prepared to be a failure in the eyes of most people if that means doing what you love, I’m proof that sometimes that can pay off. But whatever you choose, don’t abandon your dreams — it doesn’t have to be about giving up music completely in order to get a “real” (i.e. boring!!) job — you CAN have both, as long as youre prepared to work hard. For instance, I had a “real” job for 2 years when I finished university. For two years, without fail, I worked every Monday to Friday in my dull, unsatisfying office job — then I spent every Saturday and Sunday writing and developing my talents. It was hard work, obviously, but the weekends were like a treat for me — a way to escape from the real world into my own private universe — so it didn’t like work, but more like pleasure.

Best of luck with whatever you decide!!!


  1. Kelley said,

    I was in the same position as Sophie, but instead my dreams consisted of me being a writer as a second job and a musician as my first job. I was going to be in an orchestra or something along those lines and go to McGill University to become a professional trumpeter. When I had told my dad that in the car, he wasn’t very happy with my choices. He thought that I wasn’t going to go far with my music because he wasn’t sure if I would even get into the university I wanted. Then he wasn’t sure if people would like my music. I know I’m only in the school band, but some people have gotten far by just starting out small.

    With my writing career he kind of laughed and it hurt a lot, because I’m an extremely good poetry writer and I’m in the middle of writing my own book. When I mentioned forensic scientist, I could barely get a word in because he thought that I wouldn’t be good at it. After my conversation with him in the car, I just decided on my own, that I would still stick with my music and I would continue writing on the side while I’m still 15 and young. When I get older I’ll still go on with my plans but continue with writing on the side when I’m not busy.

    • Rachel said,

      I’m in that same position too. I wanrt to be a writer on my free time I work relly hard on this one story. No one in my family seems interested in it, but it’s my dream to live by the lake making stories. My sister and I want to livve with eachother so it would still work. My father wants me to become a scientist although I do love science I still want to carry on my dream of bieng a great writer.I still have alot to do but hey whats the point of living a life if theres no challenge.

  2. Suicy said,

    Nice β™₯! Hope Sophie will make a good choice.

  3. Alice said,

    I’m even younger than you and my life experience if poor, so I can’t really give you any advice, but there is one thing I can say:

    If you don’t belive in yourself don’t expect others to do it for you.
    Dreams come true, you just have to belive and help them.
    Best of luck! I hope you’ll make it πŸ˜‰

  4. Durrender said,

    Hi Sophie. I hope you will make the right choice! Go for doing something you can enjoi πŸ™‚

  5. Miley said,

    Wait a minute….. SOPHIE ZEREGA?

    • Sophie Z. said,

      Yeah… who told you? Dad?

      • Miley said,

        Listen sophie, your father us being overprotective, if he can’t understand this is what makes you happy ,then you tell him. Growing up he was the same way about me. Remember what you said to Liz? If you don’t try you’ll never have what you want! Look where she is now! She’s ready to go to the olympics in a few years!

  6. Sophie Z. said,

    So? That doesn’t mean I can do the same… although I think you’re right… but what about Dad? He is the closest to me in the whole family- I can’t do it without him!

    • Sophi said,

      Yes you can! If you don’t make it, I’m sure you’ll be fine… But if you don’t, you will regret it. Trust me I would know! Sophie, if you make it, you’ll be proud of yourself and so will Tom.

      • Sophie said,

        Aunt Miley you spelled my name wrong…. But thanks anyway it really helps that you’re supporting me. And that did give me a good laugh thank you! ( You ain’t the best mimicker)

      • Miley said,

        Actuaply for some reason your name and email keep showing up on my screen… I need a new computer! Call me!

  7. Sofie Madeleine said,

    My name is Sophie to, only with an F (I am norwegian, so..)
    I’m 15, and I just applied for high schools. My choice was between ordinary subjects and drama/theatre. I belly dance as well, and after drama I want to study literature and language or something. Because that’s what I love; culture, language and literature.
    My mum wasn’t so keen on the idea of theatrestuff, but as time went on she got along with it and now she reallt supports me 100%. And it means a lot to me, as she is the only living parent I have.

    I chose to follow my dream, and time will show wether it was the right choice.
    I always say to my self: “If I can’t decide wether to listen to my head or my heart – then listen to my gut.” πŸ˜‰

    P.S: You’re my favorite author, Mr. Shan. You really inspire me. Thanks a bunch! πŸ™‚

  8. hotara said,

    well I’m an artist and also faced the similar problems, but thankfully my family are extremely supportive of me. I know at this moment I’m a poor and starving art student still chasing after my dreams. And I am glad to say I don’t regret my decision of going down this path. After all storytelling and animation is my soul. If I don’t get to do what my spirit tells me to do, why live at all.


  9. Stacey said,

    Well, I’m an older one in the bunch at 30, but can say that I’ve been where you are. I am a creative person at heart, but can give you some thoughts on the other side of the coin.

    Dreams are difficult little suckers to keep, but you can if you really want too. A lot of people are bittered by life and feel that they have one choice, one option to be successful. I’m a writer, but it has been hard. This was not always my dream, but it was the one thing that kept coming back to me.

    I had to hold my dreams off for a little while to finally get there. I wanted to be that great writer at an early age, but life decided that I just wasn’t ready. I had to grow up some first. I’m still not quite there, but I can finally see it.

    You should hold onto your dreams if you can, but you should also understand that life can be hard and following your own path is never easy. You will have to hear a lot of no’s before you hear that final yes. If this is who you are and what you are, then you need to hold it close, but remember that life is hard and it will be a rollercoaster.

    Good luck and be true to you before all others.

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