You Don’t Have to Be “Special” to Do Great Things

Growing up, I was the kid who dreamed big. I wanted to be an artist; an author; a circus performer; and at some point in my thirty-plus years on this earth I chased after all of those dreams to some extent.

By age 20, I was a freelance journalist covering the music beat and human interest stories for local, national and online publications.

By age 23, I published my first book with a cover featuring artwork of my own design.

By age 25, I was writing professionally full-time.

By age 27, I was swinging from the rafters on a lyra (aerial hoop).

By age 30, I had published my first trilogy.

I achieved more in my first decade of adulthood than most do in their entire lives, yet I don’t see the “impossible-made-possible” when I look back on these accomplishments. I don’t see luck or providence or the product of unusual talent.

What I do see is a wealth of hard work, lost sleep and personal sacrifices for the sake of passion and pursued dreams, including:

  • Weekends and late nights typing in front of a computer screen
  • Countless emails sent out to publications and publishers, followed by numerous rejection letters and emails
  • Tears of frustration at hundreds of manuscript pages cut or tossed aside
  • Aches, bruises and torn skin from a body tested to its limits
  • 60–80 hour work weeks
  • The stubborn determination to push forward when everything inside of you is screaming to quit

This is why “I can’t” is one of the most frustrating excuses I hear when I talk to people about their dreams and aspirations.

“I can’t do it, Elli,” they say. “I’m not like you. You make things look so easy.”

Easy? Wait a minute. Few things worth pursuing are easy. Sure, there may be exceptions to the rule; men and women who simply get lucky and have success handed to them on a silver platter. But as for the rest of us, we have to work for it.

And I mean work.

Dreams Are Often Born from Bruises

Some of the many bruises “earned” while practicing lyra.

For example’s sake, let’s talk about lyra. Every morning, I woke up with new bruises that reminded me of the pain that came with learning an aerial art. Eventually, I would master the skill that left them and the bruises would fade, but they would inevitably be replaced by new ones in different places as I moved on to the next challenge.

My body ached all the time. But with the ache, I felt myself growing stronger. My muscles became leaner and more defined. Most of all, I proved to myself I’m capable of more than I thought.

Great things come with great effort. Whatever it is you want to achieve in life, you work for it; strive for it. You invest your time, blood, sweat, tears, sanity — whatever it takes. Remarkable achievements aren’t the inevitable product of natural-born talent. More often than not, they’re the product of hard work, tenacity, and dedication because you believe the dream is worth the price.

Most people will never see the bruises. Most will never see what happens inside the cocoon. They only see what emerges, and that’s okay. After all, it’s your dream.

So eliminate the doubtful question of “Can I do this?” The true question is not “Can I…?” but rather “Will I invest what it takes to make my dream happen?”



Consumers, Culture, and Marketing Research Writer | Fiction Author | SEO Copywriter |

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