Dream big, but dream with prudence

I’m a dreamer. I love to think and talk and plan about tomorrow–and nothing excites me more than imagining big, audacious possibilities.

I graduate from JBU in less than two weeks. As my college years come to a close, I’ve been remembering all the big dreams about tomorrow that I’ve had in my four years here.

Some turned out beautifully, like graduating with a car and no debt.

But some turned into nightmares instead of dreams–including some very embarrassing failures I wouldn’t want printed in the newspaper!

I have numerous examples at both ends of the spectrum–dreams that came true and were better than a Disney movie, and dreams that ended up causing me and others so much hurt and pain.

As I look at this spectrum, I keep asking: what made the difference? What made some dreams seem like paradise, and others like hell?

I like to joke that the secret to happiness is low expectations. (It’s a fun line to adopt the week before finals!) But it’s so true: the lower your expectations, the easier they are to meet and the more often they’ll be met.

That’s totally been my experience here too.

My highly successful dreams were all very small and very concrete—They were things I knew I could do pretty well, didn’t involve much risk, and weren’t that innovative. Cases where I had lots of examples to follow and very achievable goals.

But the dreams where I stepped back and took risks, where I went against conventional wisdom and the status quo and fought for an outside possibility, those are the dreams that caused me and others so much pain.

It’s those bold, audacious dreams for a better tomorrow that can hurt the most.

Ambitious visions of the future are lots of fun to make up. But it’s a rough fall back to earth when we realize they were too big to succeed.

One thing JBU has taught me that not every dream is good, and not every “bold vision of the future” is something that should actually be pursued. It takes wisdom, prudence and hard work to succeed in the longrun, not just compelling ideas.

But we still have to dream some bold dreams. Progress only happens if we sometimes throw dear Prudence to the wind, and open ourselves up to hurt and failure. Some of the most important things we learn come from working on those moonshot dreams.

After four years at JBU, I’m still a dreamer. But I’m not as focused on dreaming. There’s more to life than a better tomorrow.

Wadsack is a senior majoring in international business. He can be reached at WadsackJ@jbu.edu.