How to deal with people who (kindly) don’t support your racing dream.

If you’re in the racing business, especially if you’re a driver, you’ve probably run into quite a few critics in your day. The fans that boo you, the crew that gives you the stink-eye, the millionth guy that asked for ‘anyone else’ when you answer the phone because he wasn’t going to talk to a girl about racing, thankyouverymuch. (← Oh, just me? AWKWARD.)

They’re everywhere.

And they’re easy to brush off. Because we all know haters are gonna hate, my friends. We can easily choose to walk away, cut them out of our lives, even (gasp!) un-friend them on Facebook.

But what happens when the person criticizing your choice of dreams is a relative or a friend? What happens when the criticism comes wrapped in a nice, well-meaning package? You can’t just tell them to shut it, and peace out. At least I can’t, anyway.

I know what it’s like to tell the people you love that you want to do something they think is crazy. I moved to a ‘dangerous’ city where I didn’t know a soul for college. I hauled my butt across the country to another city I never visited before for a job at a major sports franchise, with no safety net and no guarantee of what are considered basics in most jobs. I left a really successful career in advertising to be un-ceremoniously un-welcomed by my own team as a young racetrack promoter.

And to really brings things around in the risky and unstable department? I left that job, the last salary I ever collected, two years ago to start my own consulting company with no real plan or vision, just the knowledge that I would figure it out eventually.

In short, I’ve gotten my share of well-meaning ‘why’s’, ‘how’s’ and ‘you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me’s’ from my family and friends.

Sometimes it’s especially hard for the people that love us to support us taking a risk. Sure, they’re just thrilled for your Johnny-crack-smoking neighbor when he decides to live his parents’ basement so he can design a better eBay.

But you want to pursue a career as a racecar driver? Now that’s just crazy.

What if you get hurt?
You’re never going to make any money in racing.
Do you know how few guys make it, and how long it takes them?
Are you sure that’s the right decision?

For most of us, the criticism isn’t directly negative – it’s much more subtle and veiled under the guise of helpfulness. And they most likely do want the best for you.

And that’s why they try to protect you from your dreams. Because dreams are risky. And they don’t always come true.

So what do you say to these well-meaning friends and family members who tsk at how much money you spend on your racecar and how you haven’t gotten a real job yet over the Christmas Jello mold?

I can’t tell you what you should say, but I can tell you what I say.

I tell them they’re right.

Yep. I swallow my pride (and some whiskey, duh). Then I tell them that even though they’re probably right, I know I would regret it if I didn’t try to pursue my dream while I still have the chance. I can always go out and get a ‘real’ job in a few years if it doesn’t pan out.

Shuts them up every time. (We all know that’s a lie, but it sounds nice.)

Still, that’s a hard response to argue with. You’ve acknowledged their concern and advice, and told them you’re probably wrong but you’re going to do it anyway. You’ve also told them you’re ‘trying’ it, not committing the rest of your life to what they think is a bad decision. And you need to do it now. Because you’re still young, you don’t have kids, you don’t have a huge mortgage…whatever works in your situation.

Then slowly back away from the Jello mold. It’s for your own good.

Now, this is just my advice for dealing with your favorite critics family members. How has this happened to you? If you’ve ever had someone be unsupportive of your racing dream, what exactly did they say? How do you respond?

Share your answer in the comments below. I’d love to hear it!

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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.