What happens when you look around at your life and can hardly recognize yourself?
When the life you dreamed of while you were in college doesn’t even mirror the slightest that your everyday mundane now calls you to, what is the appropriate response?
What do you do when you are so knee deep in a different story than the one you would have written for yourself back in high school?
Wait for it…
What if you are completely okay with it?! Content with it even?! Dare I say happy even!
Let’s give ourselves permission to be okay with changed dreams. Let’s whisper a hallelujah in knowing that they’ll most likely change again. Let’s let out a sigh of relief– relief that it’s okay to do something we didn’t originally dream of.
Last week I read the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. You probably know her as the COO of Facebook and the ever popular TEDTalk feature a few years ago. She’s many women’s hero right now. I loved her book; I hated her book. Reading that book made me realize how different my dreams are today then they were 10 years ago. But this post is not about that book. It’s about dreams.
It’s about how sometimes dreams change; about letting ourselves be okay with that and embracing the new dreams springing up inside.
I used to dream about being a really “successful” working woman. I dreamed about wearing heels to work and working on “important” things. I followed that dream. I had fun. I enjoyed it fully. Yet slowly, things changed. It wasn’t overnight, but wow, this life I live today isn’t what I dreamed of back then. My life is not exactly what my 20 year old self would aspire to be.
I’m still happy!
The internal struggle still exists. While reading Sheryl’s book, I missed the projects and office drama and people and thrill of bringing product to marketplace and helping customers and everything in between. At the same time I read “Let Me Be a Woman” by Elizabeth Elliot and longed for a simpler time, an Anne of Green Gables kind of simplicity. How is it that these two worlds can exist in the heart of the same woman?
My 20 year old self would not recognize me. She would probably judge me. She would feel bad for me. She would wish she could write my story differently.
I would smile at her and tell her it’s okay that dreams change. My dream will not always be to stay at home with my toddler. She will grow up, God willing. Dreams change. My life today is not what I dreamed it would be back then but it has transformed into my dream right now. My life today probably isn’t going to be my dream of the future. I’m sure I’ll be ecstatic to be done with diapers and “wee sing” and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Yes, I hope my dreams change! 🙂 Even so, while I am here, I want to embrace this stage and be fully here, eyes open, fists open, taking in and giving my best to what’s right in front of me.
Emily Freeman from Chatting at the Sky says it so well:
One of my own personal struggles is a temptation to always look ahead to the next thing, idealizing the other-ness of what is not rather than embracing the essence of what is. That’s not always bad, but it is a delicate kind of learned art to be able to look ahead while also celebrating now, to imagine what could be without discounting what is.
As I’ve been reading in the gospels lately, I’m reminded of how personal, present, and local Jesus was when he was here on earth. He didn’t teach about roads he hadn’t traveled on or cultures he didn’t live among (even though as all-knowing God of course he could have). Instead, he chose to sit with neighbors in neighborhoods, to walk with them in celebration and in grief, to eat meals and use the stuff of meals – bread, salt, wine, fish – in his conversations. He spoke of the future because that’s why he came, but he didn’t do so at the expense of the present.
Let yourself be happy in your current dream. Don’t waste happiness and joy wishing for the dream of the past or future. Dreams change. Embrace it, girlfriend. Believe it or not– some dreams are not timeless. Like some friends or seasons or fresh basil some will come in to your life for a period and then they will leave. They will play a part in your life for a moment or an hour or a few years and then they’ll quietly transform into something completely different. Dreams change. It’s okay. You don’t have to justify it to anyone.
Just go with it!