I recently heard something that gave me pause. At a panel on freelancing at the Asian American Journalists Association meeting in Washington, DC, a writer who has a nonprofit job by day, but does travel writing on the side implied that she wasn’t a full-time travel writer, although she loved doing it, because it wouldn’t pay enough to survive on.

I immediately thought of a FT freelance travel writer who is doing quite well. This reminded me that we have to be picky about whose advice or even assumptions we accept as the truth.

When people go on the defensive, explaining choices they’ve made, my antennae start shaking. In this case, I could hear the fear of financial insecurity speaking. I get that. But I heard something more. A lot of us assume that if you love doing some sort of creative work, it must not pay enough to survive on. But people who have been able to check both boxes (love doing this kind of work and it’s financially stable) tell me that’s not so.

When people tell you something isn’t possible and not to even bother dreaming about it—that doesn’t mean it’s truly impossible. It just means they can’t get their heads around it.

Maybe fear drowns out all other voices in their heads. Maybe they live in the land of the no, where skepticism bulks large and they’re always giving excuses for why something isn’t doable. Not surprisingly, focusing on all the negatives will shrink the realm of the possible down to a small puddle that quickly dries up.

Or maybe a person’s horizons are limited. A person may sit by a window, but it’s so small, she never sees the moon. That doesn’t mean the moon doesn’t exist. No, it just means her frame of reference is too small.