Podcast Takeaway: Episode 15, Follow Your Dreams
Why does the standard, clock-in-and-clock-out, position seem more highly endorsed than aspirations to follow one’s dreams? On Episode 15 of The Beautiful Minds Podcast I sat down with a friend of mine who undermined conventional wisdom when she decided to pursue a career in show business. She was 14 at the time of her decision. Knowing exactly what she wanted to do at such a young age, and knowing how crazy her dreams might seem, she didn’t share her plans with many. Instead, Ashley August managed to convince her family that volleyball season was all year-round, spending “practice time” during off-season, not on the court, but in classes and seminars molding her passion for the stage. Did I say she was 14?
As I sat there listening to her speak on her journey through her peaks and valleys I couldn’t help but think of the most influential people I’ve come across in my life. Almost all of those people share similar stories of dealing with doubt and being forced to take leaps of faith in the name of pursuing dreams and aspirations. At this point of the blog I’d hit you with a few noteworthy people to use as examples - people who were forced to go to great lengths to hone their skills and passions in becoming the people they are today - but honestly the list is so long that the point essentially makes itself.
So, why are we so easily inclined to denounce those who dare think outside of the box? You’d think we’d learn by now.
On the other hand, however, as easy as it is to now look back on Ashley’s fateful decision - and subsequent resolve to stick to her guns - and place the blame on her environment for not being conducive to the development of a young girl’s dreams, I totally get where her detractors were coming from. I’ve had the “we’ve got bills to pay” talk many times in my short time on this earth. It’s the money factor that caused me to delay personal endeavors of my own in favor of choosing a safer, more financially secure, route to prosperity. Then there’s the practicality of the matter: how useful are those skills in the “real world?” You may make it one day, but what if you don’t? What are you going to fall back on? Because the safer decision is often the more mature decision.
“What you need to be doing is....”
“You’re not doing enough of…”
“You’re wasting your time with…”
Yet I still wonder how many other Ashley Augusts are out there in the world afraid to follow their heart because “the bills need to be paid.” Or worse, because “those aren’t real skills.”
Ashley August is an afro-latina, actress, author, playwright, activist, teaching artist, touring spoken word artist, 3rd ranked woman poet in the world, hip-hop junkie, professional ASTEP at Juilliard fellow, NYC's 2013 Youth Poet Laureate and recently named one of The New York Times 30 Under 30 Most Influential people. Along with multiple television/film appearances and country wide theatrical and poetic performances, her credits include SundanceTV, Cannes Film Festival, Netflix, Aljazaera America, The GAP, BET, and TVOne. In January of 2016, she began strutting her newest title as Slam Master of the Legendary Bowery Poetry Club. With Belize and Brooklyn embedded into her (he)art, August is motivated to speak the unsaid truth and push the boundaries of spoken word and performance to realms they've yet to live in.