A little girl was asked to bring her birth certificate to school one day. Her mother wisely cautioned her about the important document and told her to be especially careful with it. But in spite of her good intentions, the child lost it. When she became aware of its loss, she began to cry.
“What’s the problem, Honey?” her teacher asked sympathetically.
The little girl wailed, “I lost my excuse for being born!”
There are enough reasons to say, “Excuse me.” I am not about to apologize for being born.
Some people live, though, as if they are sorry for being different, or for having an opposing opinion than others or for not running with the herd.
Author Linda Stafford was one of those people. When she was fifteen, Linda announced to her English class that she would someday write and illustrate her own books. She remembers that half of the class sneered and the remainder just laughed at her prophecy. To make matters worse, her English teacher responded that only geniuses become writers and then smugly added that she was on track to receive a D as a grade for the semester. Linda broke into tears.
She went home and wrote a sad, short poem about broken dreams and mailed it to a weekly paper. To her astonishment, the newspaper not only chose to print the poem but they also sent her two dollars for publishing her writing. When she shared the news with her teacher, her only reply was that "everybody experiences some blind luck from time to time."
But as if to defy her teacher’s assertion, Linda continued to write. During the next two years, she sold dozens of poems, letters, jokes and recipes. And by the time she graduated from high school, she had a scrapbook filled with her published writing.
Linda never again mentioned a word of it to her teachers or to her fellow students. Why not? Some people are "dream-busters," Linda would later say. And her dream was too important, and, at this time in her life, too fragile to risk being shattered by careless comments from people who didn’t believe in her.
Mark Twain said this about dream busters: “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.”
Linda made no apologies for her ambitions, for her confident belief in herself or for wanting something more out of life. Even at her young age, she somehow knew that nobody on planet earth was more (or less) valuable than she; nobody was more deserving of happiness. She knew that she needed no excuse for wanting to make the most of her brief time in this life and eventually she did become the author she desired to be.
I have found plenty of dream-busters over the years, and I imagine that you have, too. But I have also discovered a few dream-builders along the way – people who encouraged my aspirations and challenged me to take the next step. It was the dream-builders who said yes when others said no. They were the ones who held my vision before me when I wanted to turn away in discouragement. They protected my dreams and reminded me who I really was.
It has always been the dream-builders who made the greatest impact. It is to them I am most grateful.
If some people are dream-busters, others are dream-builders. And I know which ones to listen to. I also know which I want to be.
-- Steve Goodier