The Price of a dream

“Your dream is not big enough if it does not scare you.”

Last year I met someone who said he was interested in hearing more about 40-40. During our conversation he said something that startled me. “Sorry you lost your parents,it must have been difficult.” I was confused. “Did I say I lost my parents?,” I asked, trying to find a polite way of getting to the bottom of it. “No, but I figured the only reason you would be interested in helping orphans is because you are one yourself.” he replied matter-of-factly.

I politely explained what I was driven by and could feel the ‘dissatisfaction’ from across the table. He thought he had cracked the code but now needed to know what my ‘real’ reasons were. He kept probing. I kept cringing.

It is unfortunate, sad actually that society has led us to believe there must be ulterior motives for good deeds. Worse still is the fact that when people fail to find this motive, they will make up one for you.

I will try to ‘briefly’ (because I can’t exhaust this topic) use real life examples of incidents that ‘dreamers’ have experienced and why you have to keep paying the price to see the finish line.


When a NO will suffice but….

“I am thankful to all those who said no to me. It’s because of them that I did it myself.”

A musician who is starting out and needs airplay in order for the world to hear her music. She takes her music to a radio station and asks a DJ to play it. After a quick listen, he looks up and says “This is rubbish! The fact that you even thought I could play this on my radio is disrespectful. I suggest you  concentrate on something else because music is clearly not for you.”

Lies often have to be followed up with more lies so I understand why this DJ couldn’t promise to play the song then later bin it, but why not just politely say no instead of using ‘colourful’ language? Well this ‘rubbish’ musician is actually doing quite well, with several hit songs that have been played on several radio stations including the one that was once too good.

Philanthropy on the other hand is probably twice as difficult. You are forced to ‘sell’ feelings like love and empathy and then mix it up with the business angle so that the entrepreneur feels like he too is benefiting. Unfortunately, honesty is a trait that is heavily lacking among several players within and outside the corporate sector.

I was once scheduled to meet a brand manager of this company. He had made promises to support us at one of our events and verbally, the deal was as good as signed and delivered. That is until he constantly made his phone busy, sent messages that read ‘In meeting, will call back’ and generally ignored all my attempts. It is not surprising that when I used a different number, he picked up. I eventually gave up, which is what he wanted.Months later, I met some individuals who had work with him complaining about his behaviour and the scenarios were almost ‘copy and paste’.  When I gave them a brief, they told me to find comfort in the fact that he does this to ‘everyone.’ This was actually not comforting at all! Hope is good but false hope is harmful. Imagine how much time he would save himself and everyone else if he just said ‘NO.’ The brand. He is messing up a brand that he is hired to protect. He knows what budget his company has for particular projects and can explain this in one sentence but no, that isn’t as fun as sending people on a wild goose chase.

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!” 

Oh, another offer? Yaaayyyy- Right?

Several people shall come up with incredible offers, promises and pave paths for you. They will sound pretty great and you may even start drawing your budget based on these promises. They may even go so far as to put it in writing. Hold on to that champagne. If you don’t, you may have to pop several ’empty’ bottles.

At the beginning of this year, we struggled to complete the dormitory we were constructing. We had had several campaigns and had decided if by December we didn’t have the full amount, we would just have to find other ways to raise it. So behind the scenes,I started to tell everyone I could and on this random day I got a call. A friend of mine wanted me to write a letter requesting his boss for the balance, which at the time was 5,000,000 UGX. He said he had a ‘very good’ feeling because the boss had been impressed by our work. I made sure to follow the instructions. The problem with being ‘in need’ is that you are not sure what is too much or just enough so I tried not to push too hard but still remain in his mind. Each time we spoke, it seemed like the cheque to ’40 days over 40 smiles Foundation’ would be signed that day. I only told one other person (thankfully) and then prayed and waited. Last month this friend told me the boss had been out of the country and was now back.” He approved it,” I was assured. Well, four months and a complete dormitory later, I am still waiting. Champagne does not expire, right?


“If you want to be comfortable, don’t try to live your dreams.”

You are no longer just an individual, you are also your product,your dream.

You have to accept that you are now Ashley the fashionista, if you are into selling clothes. People who haven’t spoken to you in years will call when they have a hot date and ‘nothing to wear.’ Never mind that they ignored all your pleas to come check out the new shop.

If you are in the entertainment industry, be sure to anticipate the ‘Can you get me a free ticket’ messages even from that guy who drives past you in his BMW on a rainy day as you walk to the taxi stage.

I can’t count the number of times I have met someone or called just to check on them only to be invaded with ‘Sorry I didn’t come to see the kids with you guys’ or ‘I know I haven’t been contributing but I follow 40-40’s progress..’ and other related disclaimers. When I can, I re emphasise that it is okay for us to just talk about ‘normal’ topics but sometimes I just listen and let it go. Speaking of normal topics, the 40-40 team which is made up of friends often diverts from fun to ‘work’ without intending to. We are at a birthday party and the food is good, music even better then suddenly you hear “I have an idea we can use to improve our data collection.” and just like that, the next few minutes shall be spent dissecting this idea and coming up with many more. *See why I always need a notebook 🙂 *

“Don’t you find it odd that when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try?”

If you are doing something that isn’t conventional, then you have to get used to people telling you it can’t happen and asking you when you will grow out of it..

Once you are done with school, people don’t expect you to come and say “I have decided to make art pieces by recycling rubbish.” Your parents expect you to get value for the money they invested. Next on the agenda, is the climb on the corporate ladder. When the dreamer in you decides to make the announcement that you believe your calling is to dance and teach people to love their bodies trough dance, do not expect a round of applause. In fact, keep your armour close by just in case. Aisha (not real name) got 24 points at ‘A’ level and got a Government scholarship to study engineering. After graduation, she got a job but also  started to write more and more. She got to recite her poetry and even came out number one at some competitions which she entered. She listened to her heart and tried out contemporary dance which she loved and decided to do part time. To earn a living, she began making jewellery that she sells to friends and through her networks. All this while, her father was flabbergasted while her mom was supportive, or so she thought. Before long, her siblings called her for an intervention and explained that her parents were worried. “Not my mom, she interjected.” It turned out her mom was just not bold enough to tell Aisha to her face that she didn’t support her life choices. Aisha isn’t driving a sports car or working for a top engineering firm but she is happy. This is what should be important to her parents and everyone who loves her , but it isn’t.

Of course they mean well. Their expectations are high and they feel like she is ‘wasting’ her brain away. I am biased, for obvious reasons. I believe if you are tired  of that office that has constant  AC,scrumptious lunch and crazy benefits 😮 and want to trade it in for a life of ‘hustling,’ you should, if only to now what it feels like. If the hustle fails, you can always come back.

“I believe ardently that you should drop everything and run toward your true self.”

I have interacted with many dreamers and they have experienced all this and more. Here are a few truths that I have learnt along the way.


You are going to starve so you can feed your dream.

You will forego several luxuries

It is great if your passion can sustain you

If it can’t, work until it can-

You will often stand alone

Sometimes you will cry tears, seen and unseen

You will lose friends and make new ones

You will also make false friends-

The world will give you many reasons to give up, they might even be more than the ones to keep trying

Truth is there are many great ideas, but not enough people willing to risk

The fact is the world needs you

It needs more eccentric, crazy, passionate and genuine dreamers

It aches for faith, hope,strength and dedication that only dreamers have

You need to know that what you seek is seeking you too

You have to keep telling everyone who cares to listen so the dream keeps alive

But also remind your heart, for it hears you speak-

You were born to honour your calling and if it is the only thing you ever do, you will have done enough.

Don’t find faults when you can find remedies

Allow yourself to be in the dark as you wait for the light

Share your sparkle and be so bright you can’t be ignored

At the end of the day, you are on you own.You answer to only you and the one answer I hope that you can give after it is all said and done is “Yes, I dreamed and I lived!”

sky 2

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