Last week I got an interesting (and divisive) response to the loneliness of
pursuing your goals.
Some of you agreed that following your dreams can be a lonely experience.
Others disagreed and said that in their experiences they’d had a fantastic
array of support.
I’m glad for those who’ve had different experiences.
This got me thinking, not that either view was right or wrong, as I think
the answer whether someone supports you will always depend:
· How ridiculous does the dream appear to your
· What is the dream? For the man on the street
does it appear to be realistic?
· What is the character like of those around you?
Are they supportive? Bitter? Apathic?
· What is the personal investment / commitment the
individual gets from you achieving your goal?
· How much time / interest does the individual
have to champion you in your quest?
· Does the individual have experience or think
they know the reality of what it takes for you to reach your destination?
Perfect Manifesto – How Far Should You Go? (When Supporting A Friends Dream?), by James M. Lane
How far do you support your friend?
My experience with my own loneliness in pursuit of dream, is not necessarily
that no one cares, but no one cares in the way you want them to.
Take a friend who has published a book.
To be specific – a fantasy, fiction book.
As a friend, I’m amped that they’ve gone and achieved something they’ve
always wanted to do.
And of course, to show my support, I’ll buy a copy.
Months down the line I’ll catchup with them, and get the dreaded question
“So what did you think?”
I could be honest and say
“Well I got bored and stopped reading after the first chapter”
I’ve not revealed in this scenario that I’m not a massive fiction reader…
especially if it’s fantasy fiction.
It would not be fair to say, as I’m NOT the best person to give feedback in
their pursuit – I struggle to even read authors listed in the New York Times
And so my friend feels isolated – they think no one cares about supporting them to achieve their dream.
Well I do, just not in the way they expected.
How far do you support your friend (if you know they’re going to make a
fool of themself?)
I don’t know if they still do this, but back in the early day of British
signing competition shows they would show early auditions.
The good, the bad, and the tone deaf.
For those that fell in the last category this was public humiliation at the
benefit of TV ratings – something I always felt was a scumbag move from TV
The budding contestant would go through a pre-tape audition lacking the
self-awareness they were not being brought on TV for their talent, but to be
part of the 21st century equivalent of being put in stocks in the
town square to have rotten veg pelted at them.
Perhaps it’s us the viewer that’s in the wrong? If we keep watching
programmes purely to laugh at someone else failing in their dream, just because
we’re not pursuing ours, maybe we deserve shows like that?
When I would see these cringe performances I always thought – where was a
friend member to say
“Hey, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I have to be honest. You’re
not good enough, if you go ahead and do this it’s not going to end well for
Perhaps they did, and stubborn pursuit of “the dream” made them do it
The testing question – if we have a friend (or family member) eager to
pursue a dream they have no chance of realising. When do you step in?
· at risk of getting hurt?
· about to humiliate themselves?
· damaging their own personal growth?
· neglecting other areas of their life?
As both a writer who loves to get feedback on my work – I can relate to any creative who feels support from friends seems hollow.
But also being me, I can relate to myself and why I take the light touch approach like giving money to show support to friends, whose interests I’m not fully invested in getting involved in.
If you’re the person with the big ambition it helps to manage your expectations – if a friend buys what you create, but doesn’t show any further interest, recognise that this is their personal way of showing support to what you’re trying to do.
If you’re the friend, keep doing what you do. Support them in their efforts, give encouragement, constructive feedback.
But be prepared to be honest to protect them whether it’s someone trying to take advantage, or avoiding them from harm.
Wishing you the best in your success (whatever that maybe)
James @Perfect Manifesto