How Quickly Do You Give Up On Your Dreams?

I was twelve years old when I first read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. It was possibly the first science fiction book I read. I didn’t even know at the time that it was science fiction. The book did something that no book had done before with that much impact. It took me on a journey, and left me with longing to return.

Since then, I have always wanted to go on a submarine.

It’s been a while since I was twelve, but that desire to go on a submarine never quite left me. In 2010, I finally managed to fulfill my desire, by going on a Yellow Submarine in Tenerife. Even though I knew the whole under-the-sea set up was arranged for tourists, I loved every minute of it. I loved diving under the ocean. My dream had sort of come true, but not quite. Because I wanted to go on a “proper” submarine. I wanted to go on a Navy Submarine. I didn’t give up on that, but I didn’t really expect it to come true either.

Fast forward to last week. I was on a business trip, driving from Connecticut to Rhode Island with Max, who is a colleague and a good friend. On the way, we saw a sign for the US Submarine Museum. Just at that time, I was talking to Max about how much I wanted to go on a submarine, and that what I really wanted was to go on Nautilus.

He asked: Nautilus? As in Jules Verne? Does that exist?

My answer: It does in my head.

This is the kind of answer that does not surprise people who know me. So the conversation ended, and I didn’t think anything of it. When I read the sign for the submarine museum, in my head, I pictured a museum with historical pictures or some bits and bobs from old submarines. I didn’t really think about going there. I didn’t even think I would ever see it again. We carried on driving to Rhode Island, went to the meeting.

But on our drive back to Connecticut, Max asked if I wanted to stop at the submarine museum. If he hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have thought about it. If he hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have said anything. If he hadn’t asked, I would have missed out on what was quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event.

So we took a detour.

There was the museum, which actually turned out to be very interesting. But more importantly, because of Memorial Day coming up, there was an event going on. Visitors were able to go on an actual Navy Submarine, and it was no other than USS Nautilus.

Until that moment, I didn’t even know that US Navy had submarines named Nautilus.

Until that moment, I didn’t actually expect to be able to go on a submarine named Nautilus.

I can’t explain what it felt like to walk around the cramped quarters, see the engine room, and have my picture taken next to Jules Verne’s plaque, all the while feeling this strange feeling – a mixture of elation and astonishment – that such an old dream came true. It was a child’s dream that I dreamt.

How often, do childhood dreams come true?

Or is it that we give up on them too soon?

How does this story of a science fiction book, of a submarine, and of a childhood dream relate to journaling? It doesn’t relate to journaling. It relates to life – and life relates to journaling.

What are your old dreams?

How many are you holding onto?

How many dreams you have given up on because they were too unrealistic, or too childish? The next time you feel that way, I want you to remember this story. Because if I can go on a submarine called Nautilus, you can also go wherever you want.


Journal about your dreams. List them. Old, forgotten ones. Childish ones. New ones. Scary ones. All of them. Give yourself permission to remember your dreams, and keep on dreaming. Because everything begins with a dream. Once you have a dream, you can figure out how to make it happen. And sometimes, universe might just surprise you by handing them to you.

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32 thoughts on “How Quickly Do You Give Up On Your Dreams?

  1. Great post here.:)I do not recall if I even had any childhood dreams as my childhood was so traumatic that it was mostly all about survival.:( But I do enjoy reading about other people’s childhood dreams coming true.~Sharon

  2. I’m not so sure I can go wherever I want. Ever since I fell in love with science fiction as a kid I’ve been dreaming of going out there into outer space, and perhaps after a while come back and live in a settlement on Mars. Given my age (and the speed at which Mars colonisation is going) it’s not gonna be more than a dream.

    But then, what’s a life without dreams?

  3. Sharon,

    Even survival is a dream, and looks like you managed it :-) Not all dreams are clear cut, or even fun or pleasant. Sometimes, it’s just about taking the next step. But kudos to you for celebrating other people’s dreams.

  4. Jeroen,

    It’s not necessarily meant to be taken literally. For example, I would love to go to Space too. God knows when that will happen. My point is to have faith in dreams, and that in one form or another, we might get a lot closer than we thought. Dreams take unexpected directions, and it’s just that belief, more than anything that often achieves the impossible.

  5. Really cool story, Dolly! I also loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and it was fun to “see” the Nautilus through your eyes.

  6. Dreamer! I’m a dreamer (and journaler) too. This month my journal entries are mind maps, and I will do one on childhood dreams and see what comes up. I may be surprised, because right now the only thing I can remember dreaming about is being a ballerina. I’m past the ballerina stage now, but knowing me, I’d find fulfillment just by writing about one. Come to think of it, one of my novels has a main character who takes ballet lessons. My dreams are coming through!

  7. Awesome! For me the awesomness never stops. So many times I have stopped and thought about what is going on in my life and I can say, “back in 19XX, I said that I would do “XXXX” and here I am doing it.

    You can dream anything and they all can come true!

  8. Ha! That is so awesome! I’m glad you finally got to go on the Nautilus :)

    The only childhood dream that really stands out to me was the wish to be in ballet, but moreso to wear those “real” ballet shoes – the ones where you can stand on your very tippy toes. I’ve looked into ballet classes as an adult, but something has kept me from going… Hm. You got me thinkin, Dolly. If you can ride a submarine…

  9. Thanks, Bobbi! I have re-read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as an adult too, but I always prefer to see it through 12-year-old me eyes, because the magic of that first time is different from anything else.

  10. Linda,

    I have heard of Earth Abides by George Stewart, but definitely have not read it. I will look it up. Thank you for the recommendation.

  11. Linda,

    Mind map entries could be so cool. I don’t often get into them, but a few times, I have done colourful ones and they make it look so appealing. A mind map for childhood dreams is a great idea. And hurray for dreams!

  12. Lori,

    That’s amazing! First, it’s so cool that you had that awareness and dream in the past, that you acknowledged. And second that now, you recognize when it’s coming true.

  13. Ahhh…you’re reminding me of my favorite beach towel from when I was 9 (yes I still have it–although it is as thin as paper now.) that declared: “Help Fight AIr Pollution Live Underwater!”

  14. Kaylee,

    Ballet shoes. Nearly every girl’s fancy at some point. Try those shoes on and give it a go. At the very least, you get to enjoy the shoes.

  15. This is SO inspiring and refreshing, Dolly!

    Your article most definitely made my day. On my way now to my journal for the “take action challenge!”

    Love and blessings,

  16. Hey there Dolly,

    I didn’t really think about my dreams until my personal renaissance a couple of years ago. Sure, I had a bunch when I was a kid but, I can’t really remember what they are/were.

    Now I think about my dreams all the time AND I act on making them happen. If anything, my dream list keeps piling up and I’m not giving up on any of them. That’s not to say I’m awesome for not giving up on my dreams but rather I’ve realized the importance of having them (and keeping them).

  17. Joel,

    I would say you’re awesome for not giving up on your dreams. So many people do, because it’s easier than to work at making things happen. So kudos to you.

    The concept of “personal renaissance” is fascinating. I hope to learn more about it through your blog. I suppose I’ve not had so much a renaissance, as an awakening, or rather gradual evolution.

  18. Yay! Congrats on achieving a childhood dream! I don’t remember my childhood, so no luck there. My dreams are quiet simple, so I’m confident I’ll be able to achieve them with some hard work and a pinch of luck.

    On the one hand, I think it is good to let go of certain dreams. For example, I have one friend who dreamt of being a lawyer growing up. Now she’s a lawyer. Now she hates it. I have another friend who dreamt of supporting minorities; now he works at a non-profit doing exactly that, and he loves it. Some dreams are great; others not so much.

    Anyway, I think realistic and childish are the wrong criteria to evaluate a dream. I think we just assume the fulfillment of our dreams will create happiness, but that’s not always the case.

  19. What a wonderful story about the magic of keeping hold of your dreams! You just never know when you might get a beautiful surprise! I think we believe in our dreams so earnestly as children – but then we get taught that we should be “realistic” and let go of supposedly unattainable dreams.

    Thanks for this reminder to retain that childlike sense of wonder and faith. Dreams really CAN come true – as long as we can hold onto them.

  20. Amit,

    Confident in dreams is great. The ones that come true through hard work are all the better for being in our control.

    Not giving up on dreams is not the same thing as not letting go of the ones that no longer work for us. When you give up on dreams because it’s too hard, too unrealistic, too silly – that’s quitting. But when you give up, because you have changed, or your dream has changed, then that’s growth.

  21. Sarah,

    Beautiful surprises are the best! Childlike sense of wonder and faith is often scoffed at by “grown-ups” because it does not match with what most people term reality. Just imagine what we could all achieve, and how much more positive and energetic we would all be, if we continue to keep that childlike wonder.

  22. Great post. I have never given up on my dream – to be an self-supporting artist. I work almost daily towards this dream and am making good headway. This is the same dream I had as a nine year old child. I hold this dream close and share only with supportive people. I learned that some (even close friends) try to discourage, belittle or criticize other’s dreams. This is because they are not walking towards their own dreams. Sometimes holding your dream close as a prayer in your soul – gives you courage.

  23. Jane,

    Thank you for sharing your dream. I’ve found that it’s difficult for people without dreams to understand those who have them. Perhaps they find it threatening that people in their life might be going towards something that is so far removed from what they understand. It’s a shame, because often, we want to be able to share our journey with the people we love and trust the most. But thankfully, in today’s world, we have the opportunity to connect to so many like minded people that support is always there. We just need the courage to reach out.

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