Updated 03:27 pm EDT, September 1, 2023

Published 03:00 am EDT, August 6, 2023

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

The Dream Retrospection

By Ibtissam El Azami

The biggest mistake is for us to think that we are alone in the pursuit of our happiness.

By Ibtissam El Azami

Updated 03:27 pm EDT, September 1, 2023

Published 03:00 am EDT, August 6, 2023

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

I have always felt that a dream only remained a dream when you didn’t really want to make it happen. As soon as you change the semantics and the dream is named ‘goal,’ does it become an entity that can take you over?

When I was a young person, no more than 10 or 11 years old, and like most children, I had big dreams. The biggest of dreams compared to my environment, to be fair: I wanted to be an actress, a singer, or anything that would bring me recognition and fame. I wanted for the whole world to know my name and my face and for them to acknowledge my talent.

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

I applied to castings. I wrote songs and even performed them whenever possible. Mostly at school shows because I knew that most actors and singers had once started at school, and that is precisely the place where you are shaped to be your future self. As time passed, school shaped me, but in a way where my dreams felt too big and unrealistic compared to where I was growing up. My individuality was getting lost, stripped away in a school system where we were graded, and our grades became the sole judge of our worth. Looking back, as a child, your dreams are influenced by your environment and what this very environment can provide for you to achieve these dreams. I would go as far as saying that dreams are in great part instilled in us by this environment; society, parents, school, acquaintances, popular culture…

No man is an island, they say, and indeed, should we grow up on our own without any external influence, I am pretty sure we wouldn’t even care about having goals aside from survival.

What It Means to Dream

Whether you study psychology or philosophy, sociology or history, you will find striking examples of people who had dreams. Some dreams are inherently human and direct reflections of the political climate, with examples such as Martin Luther King and black/white equality. They are dreams that help turn the world around and create advancements for the whole of humanity on a social level. Some dreams are motivated by creation and advancement of technological culture. Let’s take Steve Jobs’s example for this one, a man whose aim was to create simplified products that any and all could use, from phones to Macintosh laptops. Come to think of it; it is interesting that the same word is used to describe ‘sleep’ dreams and woke goals—two very different concepts but with an unbreakable bond.

One of the world’s most famous philosophers, Aristotle, dwelled on the subject of sleep dreams, claiming that those could be interpreted as prophecies. The idea that dreams could also translate into the day world was also part of Aristotle’s belief. Indeed, the Greek philosopher believed dreams could provide insights into our feelings, fears, and desires and directly affect our present and future decisions. Take other philosophers and great thinkers of our time, from Jean-Paul Sartre to Kant, and you will find similarities in the reason why we dream: to build a life full of meaning and purpose. There are, however, three sides to all of us; that hidden part that is only ours to reach, the social part that our environment can see, and a mix of the two. How do you understand and blend with those different parts of yourself?

Where do you fit in that mechanism? How do those social and internal parts interact? More importantly, do you really choose your dreams? Aren’t they imposed on you? Don’t they depend on your feelings and how much you want to comply with your environment, or on the other hand, detach from it?

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

Interconnection and Dreams

As much as we would like to think our dreams are entirely personal, we are social beings who rely on others to make almost anything happen. Circling back to that actress or singer dream, I would not have been able to become either without an audience, without producers, other actors, or musicians who believed in me too. Dreams are built on collaboration since interconnection lies at the base of our lives. They are a vertical need – let me explain. Vertical, in the way that we need mentors, friends to advise us at the base of the dream, a pinch of our personality, and people who will support the dream and consume what we produce. I am now a full-time blogger and freelance writer. While I am living my dream every single day, it is crucial for me to remember that without associates bouncing back on my ideas and without people who read my texts, I would not be living my dream.

The biggest mistake is for us to think that we are alone in the pursuit of our happiness when indeed, we are all interconnected and in need of each other. As independent as a freelancer would like to be, our success depends directly on the support of our entourage. And by an entourage, I don’t only mean our close ones. I also mean the entourage we are not acquainted with, the receptors of our creation.

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

Do Dreams Stem from Lack?

I personally think that most of our dreams are motivated by lack – I feel that our choices, our motivations, and our decisions are motivated by childhood situations. As a child, I didn’t feel listened to, and as an outlet, I chose to write. Someone who lacked empathy from their entourage as a child could maybe choose to change the world one person at a time by becoming a teacher. Or, someone who grew up an only child could dream of having a large family – this is a situation we encounter pretty often. That lack is, in my opinion, a very arguable point that we should linger on and think over to understand what place our actions have in everyday life. I think it is pretty much impossible for someone to have a selfless dream simply because goals seem to stem from our unconscious, as psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud stated many years ago.

Everything we do is personal on some level, so it can only come from lack or emulation. If someone in your life is a famous writer, you might want to learn what they are doing since it seems to make them so happy. If someone close is a fulfilled doctor, you might want to follow in those footsteps. In any case, the end goal of dreams is to lead to a better life. Dreams are always some kind of positive goal, but there is a fine line between that positive mindset and dreams becoming actual nightmares.

Who is Undermining Themselves?

Dreams can be as realistic as you want to think of them, but the hard truth is that your environment will greatly determine what you make of your life. In that case, I think it is important to understand where you want your sense of self-fulfillment to come from. I could have had recognition by working to become a singer, indeed, but my goal was actually to share and entertain. That’s what I am doing by writing, but the feeling of self-achievement is still here, alive and well. Think for a moment and think of what you are trying to convey. Think of what it is you want to feel like. That should help tremendously in figuring out what your life needs to be like to feel that way. Whom you surround yourself with directly impacts those dreams; since the company is one of the biggest influencers in our lives, one should always pay close attention to our entourage. Some people will become mentors, people who will become receptors, and people who will be both. There are also people, those who haven’t found their calling, who will not teach nor support us, and who can be dream destroyers to permeable souls.

Taking on unrealistic paths is also, in my opinion, at least, proof that you don’t trust yourself. There is a huge part of the uncertainty in dreaming and setting goals, which makes you utterly vulnerable, vulnerable enough that you don’t need to set unattainable goals on top of that. Dreams do become nightmares when you lack skills, self-confidence, guidance, or even simply purpose.

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

Are There Bad Dreams?

The concept of authenticity in dreams is one I would like to highlight. Beyond realistic goals, choosing a dream that is not in line with your true self sets you up for failure. And I’m not only talking about financial failure but more about happiness and self-actualization. Psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized the world-famous Hierarchy of Needs, in which you can find self-actualization needs at the very top. Once you have basic needs, safety, love, and esteem needs to be locked down, you can reach the next and last level: self-actualization. I have always been fascinated with Maslow’s Pyramid because it should be a guide for anyone who wants to feel in line with themselves. Obviously, we all have different needs, different backgrounds, and our dreams and goals are bound to differ. But this Hierarchy of Needs describes the essence of what all human beings do in order to be happy.

And while happiness is that ever-so-indescribable concept, ticking off every level of this pyramid does bring you closer to its fulfillment. One will notice that dreams do not have their place in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as they are more of a social idea than a basic survival need as food, water, and safety are.

That is the magic of being a conscious being, isn’t it?  As much as we human beings do like to complain that ‘life is hard,’ life is pretty magical if you stop to think about it. It is, after all, nothing but a tool that we can use to upgrade the world we live in. When the time comes to make things happen for the better, most of us think that we cannot do it on our own, and that is true. However, one person’s thoughts become actions, and actions create a ripple effect in the entire world. Have you ever listened to a podcast or read an inspiring book or article that made you want to become better, produce better, and change the world at your scale?

As I said, we are all interconnected, and even if the person who reads the article you wrote in London reads it in Miami, if it is produced authentically, you can be sure you are changing the world. Make people talk about you, share authentic ideas, and be true and honest, and you are not only changing the life of the person reading your article but also that of their environment. And what are human beings afraid of, about as much as being forgotten? Not being worthy enough to be remembered. However much we want to feel that self-achievement, I do think the focus must be on serving others truthfully. Have dreams, and make your way as selflessly as possible, and I strongly believe that is where success comes from.

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

Consider Respecting Your Side

Your take on life is what makes you valuable. People who have dreams and high goals all suffer from the same illness – that of being unsure and being in doubt most of the time. Pick your side, and respect it. Listen to yourself, as it is one of the highest levels of the Hierarchy of Needs; esteem needs. You cannot be respected if you do not respect yourself, and one of the highest forms of respect is taking the time to understand where you are coming from and where you want to go.

No one but you is forcing you to stick to one side when you feel it no longer works for you, especially if you find it destroying your balance. As human beings, one thing we probably hate the most is change: change and instability. But when you feel like a dream is not working anymore, when you feel like it’s eating away at your integrity and authenticity, it does not do its esteem and self-actualization job anymore. I am not even venturing into the high-income area at all. I am talking about feeling. Feeling that you are doing what is right for you and, in turn, for the world, aside from income and revenue.

Dreams can be Nightmares

I live everything to the fullest, and I am a very extreme person. I am not afraid to admit it, and I will be the first to acknowledge that, more than once, my dreams have felt downright like nightmares. While setting goals is one of the most powerful motivators, the angle you choose can make the whole dream messy. A messy feeling that becomes a nightmare of a day, of a month, until you are exhausted and give up. It all boils down to listening to yourself, which is something that meditation helps us with, but that demands enough self-control to achieve. And that’s just something a lot of us are still unwilling to do, just because the world is moving faster and faster with the years.

I have spent many days blocked, feeling inadequate, feeling like I just would never make it. In my case, I was a makeup artist before I was a freelance writer, and after seven years of blogging, I finally became a full-time blogger. How many of us are willing not to make it for seven years before we call ourselves achievers? There’s a lot of stress that comes from not being able to make it happen for yourself. Many of us in the 21st century are unwilling to let our freedom go; that’s just how it is. With the boom of technology and the thought that fame can be achieved easily with social media, we are just not willing to work for someone else all our lives like our parents and grandparents did.

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

Adapt to your Environment

Indeed, the dreams and goals our parents and grandparents had looked nothing like what we have, and my feeling is that within 50 years, not even our kids’ dreams will look anything like ours.In the past, people had to survive. While wars still happen everywhere in the world, the Western world is still very much protected – allowing us to dream still unrealistic dreams. In other parts of the world, this psychological slash philosophical discourse does not have to take place as our peers struggle to meet their basic needs. We are blessed to be able to have dreams and blessed to have to fight through to make them happen.

Do dreams have a location, though? Dreams do have a location as long as they rely on other people’s presence to come true. If you’re following computer or phone-based dreams, such as becoming an influencer, you don’t really need a location. However, if you want to become one of the most renowned scientists and make huge discoveries in science, technology, architecture, or history, you have to count on being based where the action is. Where the finest researchers will surround you and where the lack of skill shall be overturned as you spend time studying.

Dreams Don’t Just Happen

It would be way too easy, and one thing that makes people scared of having bigger-picture dreams is the fact that we have to learn and practice. And learn some more, and practice some more. It doesn’t come easy to anyone, and while some parents may be more inclined to push their kids in one direction or another during our childhood, we still have work to do. Coming of age is currently set at 18 years old in many countries around the world, but there is no such thing as being mature as soon as you turn 18. It takes more time, more patience, and more work on our inner selves to reach some kind of enlightenment. In my case, I started maturing and understanding past successes and past failures only when I reached the age of 27. About ten years later. That’s also the year during which I understood that failures and rejections had only shaped me up for more, for better, for situations and people I would not have been able to grasp even just two or three years ago.

Photo Credits

Photographer: Andrey Lukovnikov
Producer: Ekaterina Lukovnikova
Hair & Make-Up Artist: Anna Ryabikova
Model: Anastasiia Melnyk

Rejection is a Part of Life

When I started in makeup and later as a writer, I felt I could hide behind my art. Alas, it was without counting that when you are an artist or even just someone who wants to offer something new and personal to the world, you are up for rejection. And for the longest time, I could not handle rejection. However, rejection is a part of life. It seems like no matter how much we say this, rejection is always a fear trigger, and that’s okay. We are now raised in a society where you must be successful.

What does success mean to you? To me, up to a certain point, success meant owning all the big brands and one day having multiple high-end cars, houses, and all those shiny bright objects that turn out not to matter once you reach a certain level of self-certainty. As I’m approaching my thirties, I see things differently. Monetary assets are no longer a motivator in my pursuit of happiness. Sure, it is nice to own and be a positive motivator when you want to achieve more in life. A lot of people still have dreams linked to possessions, and while it is a nice feeling to know you can afford such and such object, I feel like the new currency is time.

Monetary assets have become a mere reward for my work over the years, and I don’t run about trying to gather coins and bills anymore. I run after time. I value freedom and time more than anything. Beyond freedom, I value my independence. Not the kind of independence that will lead me to become a hermit (although I have given it some thought more times than I care to admit). No, this kind of independence means I can wake up whenever I want to keep working on creating more to share with the world. Because when you’re a dreamer at the core, you will find yourself struggling in the ‘real world.’ Once your basic needs are covered, push yourself to dream. Push yourself endlessly to figure out what your verb is. That is a little trick I put in place for myself many years ago, which has helped me tremendously in finding my place in the world.

Find your verb. My verb is ‘share,’ and I strive to do just that with every word I scribble on my notebooks. Ask yourself if you want to meet new people during your dream or be on your own, at one with nature. Figure out what type of weather you like and what kind of language you want to hear every day from the moment you wake up. But aside from that verb, everything else is nothing but decor. That verb is your essence, and should you follow it, I honestly believe you won’t be lost, and those dreams won’t turn into nightmares.

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