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Watching Things vs Doing Things

By Matthew Wojtechko

Look, we all have dreams. I have them, you have them. And an optimist would tell you to follow these dreams. The world is your oyster, they’d say. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

And a pessimist would say don’t quit your day job, kiddo.

So which is right? What should I say? Well… let’s say that it’s complicated, and that perhaps it’s the realists who are most right.

Now I’m not here to say that you can’t accomplish what it is you want to accomplish. But I do want to point out that we’re capable of some dreams and not others, and critically, the criteria we use to judge the difference is often incomplete.

If we’re discerning a graduate program, for example, we only question whether we have enough ingenuity and book smarts. If we want to start our own business, we think about whether we have the entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy. We analyze what talents and professional skills we have and assume the rest will follow.

But from what I can tell, that’s not a given. We need to acknowledge how our productivity is always under attack – social media, video streaming, news, mobile games, and even instant messaging are always enticing our eyeballs, and are getting smarter and smarter about how to keep them captive for longer. Our dreams require long-term, concerted effort, so we need to navigate around the time-killing sirens called entertainment and keep steady the course. This requires dedication and willpower. Talent’s not enough.

It’s easy in theory, but in practice, for me anyway, it means resisting my understandable excitement when I get a message from a friend as well as x-ing out of YouTube when I have stuff to do (“What if Waluigi races WITHOUT a kart in Mario Kart Wii?”… looks interesting, better save that to my “watch later” playlist and get back to work…)

This is paying attention to our attention – around the clock – and it takes dedication. And when we find that our attention has gone afoul, it takes willpower to get it back on track.

But this is assuming we’ve even started to pursue our dreams.

Sometimes, we might decide that we don’t have the talents needed. We’re too intimidated by the skills of other people, and may fall victim to imposter syndrome. Even if we have the dedication and willpower needed to succeed, we may not realize how these traits put us ahead of the competition. If only we would start – set a deadline, do what we can in that time – and let that progress inspire us to continue. But we need courage to start.

This goes for large dreams – say, starting your own company – as well as for small ones – say, perhaps… let me think… maybe writing for your college newspaper?

Yes, yes, you got me, I do have a not-so-hidden agenda here. But it really does relate. See, one of our goals this year at The Review is to increase the number of submissions from the community. The main roadblock, I think, has been a lack of awareness on the campus that this opportunity even exists.

But I suspect there’s another problem: people are too intimidated.

This is something I’ve seen before as a reporter for two years. When I’d ask students to give their thoughts on a story, almost always there was some level of hesitation, an uncertainty of whether their opinions were “good” enough. It’s good to not overestimate your skills – wise even – but the fact is that every single person on this campus has opinions worth sharing. The idea that you don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute is misguided.

We welcome simple opinion pieces, but there are more daunting types of writing you can undertake, too. Say you want to write an open letter to the college administration or have an important cause you want to advocate – these are also what this platform is for. It is intimidating, but it can be done. It takes dedication, willpower, and courage.

If you’re interested but unsure, you can email us at to find out more information. The hardest part is to start.

When it comes to a small goal like this as well as big dreams, we need to snap out of our trance in entertainment and move! Dreams only become reality when we wake up.

Now, with that out of the way, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Waluigi run around a Mario Kart track on YouTube.

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