What happens to a dream deferred? – Langston Hughes
I was listening to Les Brown this morning on my way to church. In his famous speech, “It’s Not Over Until You Win,” Brown states that most people are not following their dreams because of fear. Some are afraid to fail while others are afraid to succeed.
My dream since age 12 has been to be a successful writer. Meaning, I want to generate income being creative — as an author, blogger, speaker, etc. The First Lady of my church asked me to contribute to our annual women’s conference in a creative way. She really left the format up to me. Talk about a God-wink. I decided on spoken word.
Twenty plus years ago, I was a freshman at the University of Illinois. There was an African American cultural center affectionately called , “The Black House”. There was an open mic night weekly. This was the 90s when neo-soul and poetry slams were the latest rage. Each week I attended, I would sit in my seat trying to muster the courage to read my material. What if they don’t get it, if they don’t snap their fingers, or if I trip and fall on my way to the stage? Fear always won.
For the past month, I have written, re-written, and rehearsed the performance of my poetry piece. I was okay until this final week. I have been travelling for work all week without much time to rehearse. Old man fear showed up taunting me again. What if you forget the words, if your nervousness causes your voice to tremble, or if your trip and fall on your way to the stage?
Today, I made it to that stage without falling. I spoke the words passionately although my hands trembled in the beginning. I remembered every single word. The audience stood and applauded.
Reimagining the Dream
The theme of today’s event was – Relate, Refresh, and Reimagine. I imagined myself getting on that stage in college and reciting my poetry to a receptive audience with their arms raised and fingers poised to snap and the right inflection of words. That moment never happened. Since then, I have worked on my confidence, presentation skills. I am a skilled software trainer. I travelled to a work conference this week and taught a session in a large ballroom. Life has a way of preparing you for your heart’s desire.
I am 44 years old. Today, I conquered a fear that had haunted me since age 18. I went back to my seat completely overwhelmed by the significance of the moment. I fought back tears as women came by to hug me and express their appreciation of my performance.
You are never too old to conquer a fear or to live out your dreams.