Is There a Right Place to Chase Your Dreams?

Ana Pierce

Nearly 100 years ago, two brothers traveled from their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, to a small beach in North Carolina. To the average person, there was nothing notable about this shoreline. In fact, it was nearly deserted. But the brothers saw something else—potential. They knew Kitty Hawk had heavy winds and high air density, which made it the perfect location for their big experiment. They wanted to fly.

On December 17th of 1903, Orville Wright manned what is now known as the first flight. 12 seconds. 120 feet. And only five people saw it happen.

Orville and Wilbur Wright invented and built the world’s first successful airplane. It goes undisputed that the brothers revolutionized modern transportation, paving the way for our present-day world to discover and be discovered. Doesn’t it seem like their endeavor should have been a bit more glamorous?

I picture the Wright brothers living and working in New York City, spending most of their time hanging out in the tallest skyscraper around, casually drawing up blueprints for the first plane. They’d probably have a line of custom suits and aviator sunglasses named after them (doesn’t “Wright Bros” sound like a distinguished brand name?), and they would frequently lunch with the mayor, I’m sure.

But this wasn’t the case. The Wright brothers essentially lived and died in Dayton, Ohio. There was nothing big about their city other than the dreams they dreamed while spending their lives there. Once the trial run crashed near Kitty Hawk, they returned to their tiny hometown and resumed all flight-testing from Small-town, Ohio.

Grow up. Move out. Relocate to a “real” city. 

Is this not the 2016 millennial’s American Dream? Often, it seems to be. Yet I fear that on some level, the dream has been misplaced. If the Wright brothers’ biggest goal was “Let’s get the heck out of Dayton,” they might not have spent as much time changing the world. It’s easy to idolize the big-lights, big-dream, big-star city. And some dreams are most effectively sought after in a metropolis.

But don’t underestimate what can be done in your hometown.

As a twenty-something, you need to understand it is not as important that you move geographically as it is for you to push yourself to move developmentally. Don’t feel like you have to pick everything up and head over to the big city to lead a meaningful life. You can live, love, learn, create, play, and grow professionally in many environments. You can define your twenties while residing in a shack in the Middle-of-nowhere, Ohio. You have the capability because it lies within you.

Planes, trains, and automobiles—these vehicles are often valued as avenues for us to see and influence the world. And they are. We live in a global society, and mobilization is becoming increasingly important. Mobility, as defined by Merriam Webster, is “capable of moving or being moved.” But in the midst of our big-city dreamin’, let’s not forget the most important part: internalmobility. Moving toward goals. Being moved by others. Pushing your self to be better. To me, internal mobility is the necessary precursor for external mobility. Don’t think “I’m going to move to LA, and then I’ll do something with my life” when you could be doing something with your life now. 

It is possible to do something worthwhile in spite of limited resources or a less-than-glamorous location.

In the house that I grew up in, there was a huge elm tree in my backyard with deep, wide roots that spread all around the ground. When I was a sophomore in high school, my family built a house on the other side of town. We planted seedlings around the new property, and we all understood those baby trees would take time to bloom, but everybody missed the giant elm and oak trees in our old neighborhood. It just wasn’t the same. You see, the biggest trees have the deepest roots. In the same way, your hometown may have roots and resources to help you grow that you could miss out on if you are so focused on planting yourself elsewhere.

Your hometown is always going to be “somewhere else” to someone else. So value it for what it is, and learn to appreciate it. If leaving Small-town, USA will be best for your professional or emotional mobility, then leave. But don’t think that you have to leave your hometown to make something out of your life.

Please don’t misunderstand me, here. I have been dazzled by the big city life probably as much as (or more than) the next girl. But I have come to realize that the biggest dreams don’t necessarily require an airplane. Sometimes dreams are realized on a deserted beach with only five witnesses.

Sometimes dreams are developed in a small town. And sometimes adventure begins in your backyard.


Ana Pierce (@itsanaactually) is a writer and editor residing in Springfield, Missouri. In her free time you can find her over at her blog She Learns Things, or just trying to keep her houseplants alive. 

What I’ve learned so far: what they don’t tell you about following your passion.

Image taken by Kinsey Mhire

Image taken by Kinsey Mhire

What I’ve learned so far: what they don’t tell you about following your passion.

I am a life coach, I own my own business, I am paving the way to my dreams every day through blogging, using social media, and taking new clients. It’s growing steadily and I am SO happy about it.

But there is a side I also want to address. In reality, businesses like coaching take time. Building a brand and becoming known for what you do is a slow and steady building of momentum. If you are not careful when launching a passion project, you can get burnt out before you even truly begin.  Building a reputation, being consistent, and becoming amazing at your trade--these things take serious hustle. But that’s not what I’m going to post about today.

Here are three areas people rarely talk about when they discuss their passions:

Know your bigger life theme.

I know my passion. And it isn’t coaching. My passion is a deeper life theme, it is the thing I want my life to be about. Some business people call it your “why” or even your “vision.” I like calling it a life theme because no matter what I do, I want the same theme to be the thread that weaves through each season, each career, and each relationship.

I wrote out my own personal life theme recently and this is what it sounds like, “to live my life in vibrancy, truth, and authenticity, and help others come alive.”

I can and will do that in many ways throughout my life. In this season, I do it through coaching and blogging. But I also do it as a wife, as a waitress, and as a friend.

My life theme helps me show up in all areas as my best.  I know what I want my life to reflect, so I am able to show up at my serving job AND as a coach and be my best. I can help people come alive no matter where I am. I can live in vibrancy, truth, and authenticity no matter where I am, and that gives me credibility.

Be your best.

Being your best is tricky and relative. Our best changes from season to season, and we are able to give different amounts at different times. That is normal, human, and expected. The key is not to be perfect, but to strive for excellence; for your best in the moment you are in. I am always attempting to act as my best self, to filter my response through the lens of my life theme.

Being your best self on purpose is actually a skill. It takes the ability to self reflect without judgement, be thoughtful and assume the best, and it takes self control. It is choosing to respond in the most loving, mature way you can.  It is aligning your life with your values and your life theme. It is honoring your yes and your no. It is you becoming better with small choices every day, choosing healthy thoughts, and mature actions which align with your life theme.

Become a Servant.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it!? Be a person who offers an insane amount of value.  You can start doing this in areas like at home, at the office, or in your passion project.  Something I am committed to in my business is offering educational, inspiring and relevant content for free to the people who read my blog and are on my email list. This does sometimes come at a sacrifice. It takes time, it takes consistent growth on my part, and integrity of living what I put out into the world.

What does this look like in your life? How can you be a person who offers value?

What ways can you bring value to your daily life, in and outside work?

Here are a few simple ideas anyone can implement today to be successful at following your passions

1. Be interested in people.

This means asking questions, listening well, commenting back on social media platforms, and thanking people for the good you see them doing. Pay attention, people are always communicating ways they need you.

2. Give more than is asked of you, or do what you do with excellence.

Consider how you can go above and beyond a person's expectations. One way I do this is by remembering birthdays or other important dates and sending cards, flowers, or texts. Be creative with what you do, and who you do it for. A short list would be friends, clients, and supporters, but you could even extend this to service personnel, your neighbors, your co-workers, and even former teachers and employers.

3. Know your deeper reason.

The hustle of following a passion is real, but the reality of knowing the deeper reason behind your life, the growth that comes from being your best, and the magnetic pull people feel toward people who offer value, that is the good stuff.

Try it out, your hustle may become much more enjoyable, and much more passionate.

Read more from Madison at her blog.