Dream Chaser Syndrome: Understanding the Limitations of Your Personal Narrative

Aaron Andrews Apparel

I often stop and ask myself, Am I really working as hard as I think?

Sure I’ve come a long way. Professionally, I’ve been published. I landed a job at a respected company. Outside of my career, I utilize my gym membership. I’m actively involved in a couple start-up companies. Labeling me a “work-a-holic” would not be inaccurate.

Still, I’ve always been partial to the “grinding” tweets. You know, the “if you weren’t with me for my struggle don’t expect to be there for my success” type statuses.

Let’s be honest. There are times when we want to post them. And when I have one of those moments, I hesitate. I think about a few things.

  • What have I actually done?
  • Can I show for it?
  • Do people actually care?
  • Why do I want to share this?

The answer is usually: Not as much as you think, maybe, probably not, to reassure yourself that what you’re doing is worth it.

We like to think that we are actively living out our purpose in life. I can recall the hard weeks, the obstacles that I overcame. The highs. But these are all accounts according to my narrative.

What about the un-memorable days. The failures. The ambiguous moments that perhaps had no meaning that we conveniently forgot or narrated as a “growing experience.” A positive. It’s why we say things like, Everything happens for a reason.

How we talk about things doesn’t always reflect how it really was.

The Narrative Fallacy

Ryan Holiday describes it like this:

“The more inspiring and metaphoric we make our stories, the less they seem to resemble the dull and comfortably literal world that the rest of us live in. We start to think that we’re different, that the laws don’t apply to us – that all we have to do is let manifest destiny take its course. This denies the fundamental role of hard work and sacrifice and luck in everything. Narration conveniently ignores the day we laid around and watched TV and the week where we were sure we were going to quit but didn’t. It’s just not honest.”

I am not here to un-romanticize your journey. But before you tweet “IDGAF bout any 1, just gonna doo me ja feeeeel. #Grinding” and look like a complete idiot, remember this.

  • Talking about things before we do them gives us a false sense of accomplishment. Talk less. Do more.
  • You care way more about what you do than your friends/fans/followers. Don’t get offended if they don’t know what you posted last night at 4 a.m.
  • Take advice from people who have been where you want to be
  • We are all after the same thing. Stop comparing and start helping.
  • Be aware of other narratives. You belong to someone else’s too.

I would like to think that I’m on the right track. I also understand that how I interpret my journey is as relative as walking down the street with headphones on. Only I can hear the music and feel the meaning amidst the mundane.

To hear myself, I would have to yell. And that’s foolish.


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