'Be Realistic' is the Worst Advice I've Ever Received

In a world of absurdity, why on earth would you be realistic?

I’ve always been a dreamer. Not once in my life have I sat down and considered taking on a normal job, neither as a child or an adult.

I’ll never forget my first day of nursery. One of my playgroup leaders asked me what I wanted to become when I grew older. Without hesitation, I answered, ‘A crocodile, miss’. After an in-depth discussion about the why that might not be a logical possibility, I still didn’t believe her. If that’s what I wanted, who was going to stop me?

In secondary school, I embarked upon a new quest. I’d started playing the drums and decided I was going to become a famous musician. I formed a band with my best friends, and together, we secured two UK tours, played hundreds of live shows and published two full-length EPs on Spotify. We also managed to get our first EP into the iTunes rock charts, sitting at number nine alongside Foo Fighters and Queen. We were sixteen years old.

People told us we couldn’t become famous musicians. It’s a very tricky industry to get into, they said. But who was going to stop us?

Eventually, the band fizzled out. It was time to take another step. At eighteen, teachers and parents told me I should be realistic, apply for university and secure a good education, so I did. I applied. And just weeks before I was set to go to university, I declined all of my offers and gave into that voice I’d been silencing.

‘Don’t get a normal job,’ it said. ‘Follow your passion. Who’s going to stop you?

Against everybody’s well-meaning advice to ‘be realistic’, once again, I chose not to. I pursued a career in the notoriously competitive industry of freelance writing and made it work. I established a digital magazine about personal development. I carved my own path where others told me it would be impossible to do so.

At first, people thought I was crazy. Now they ask me for advice.

‘Be realistic’ is the worst advice in the world. Why? Because nothing in this life is realistic. You’re on a gigantic ball of rock, molten lava and strange creatures, hurtling through space at 1700 kilometres per hour whilst reading my words through an LCD screen sitting on your lap via WiFi, whatever that is.

How realistic is that? Not at all.

If you don’t have trouble believing that, then why do you doubt that you’ll succeed? Why do you tell yourself you can’t become a professional writer, painter, actor or anything else that people reject in favour of ‘real jobs’? Which is more believable, your existence, or the odds of your success?

Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Always be unrealistic. People will tell you you’re crazy, that you’re irresponsible, that you’re a dreamer. And maybe you are. But isn’t better to be all of those things and more than to wonder what if?