I’m not sure if any of us are living the life we planned for ourselves, but if you are and you’re truly happy with all that’s unfolded and where you’ve ended up, congratulations. You’re one of the few and I admire you.
For the rest of us, it can feel pretty damn shitty to be living a life that doesn’t reflect the dreams we had for ourselves (there is a solution though so read on).
And if you’re anything like me, a big dreamer with a built-in timeline, well then the feeling of defeat can be even stronger as each day and year passes, especially if you're way past the date you set for yourself.
The distance between how your life is and how you think it should be or thought it would be by now, is typically proportionate to the level of happiness and contentment you feel (if the distance is short or non-existent) or the level of frustration, anger, sadness and/or sense of failure you feel (if the distance is great).
And for me throughout much of my life, the distance was immense, as was my sense of feeling like I had totally failed at life despite any successes I’ve had.
My triumphs weren’t even close to what I was aiming for, so it’s like they didn’t count for me. Why was I getting “this” when I wanted “that”? You gave me the wrong order, Life!
And it didn’t matter that the people I love thought I was a success based on what really matters, because in my heart I felt I had truly failed myself, and every day I was living with that awful feeling while trying to get shit done. It sucked.
I couldn’t win that game because it wasn’t a fair game to begin with. I had already lost. And I had been "losing" since I was 25 after I arbitrarily chose that as the age to be living my ideal by. No pressure, right?
My high expectations and unrealistic timeline only made me battle myself, and when the war is within, it’s so hard to find relief.
My heart hurt that I wasn’t where I thought I should be by a certain age, and not based on societal bullshit (I have never really cared about social norms), but based on this one clear vision of me at my highest level after having achieved all that I desired.
My ultimate vision was and continues to be crystal clear. Not the path per se, but the end result for sure, and the significant gap between here and there had always given me grief.
Sadly (and wrongly), I equated that gap with failure.
My failure to make it happen. My failure to be good enough or to know enough or to work hard enough or to do the right things at the right time. Why else was I not there yet? It had to be because of me.
I genuinely believed it must be MY fault that I wasn’t where I wanted to be by now, and I couldn’t forgive myself for letting me down. No matter what I did it wasn't good enough and it was too late anyways. My chosen window of being a winner had closed long ago, so why was I even bothering.
And the clock continued to tick and the pressure continued to rise and so did my feelings of failure. But I still did my work and consistently moved toward my ideal, because it's impossible for me not to.
And over time I began to see things differently.
I realized that as creative beings, our vision is often 5, 10, 15, 20+ years from where we are. We are seeing into the future (because we're just that magical), and our ideal is an ideal for a reason. It's a picture of life AFTER we have done all that's required (especially inwardly) to become the kind of person to embody such a gorgeous expression of self and of life.
We see our vision completed in the now, but that's just in our mind's eye. That's our North Star and our guiding light, but bringing that inner vision to physical reality actually does take time (but not always) and there's a process from here to there and it's not fair to be mad at ourselves for the time it takes to happen.
The time it takes is just the time it takes. It's not personal. It's not a reflection of you. It's just life and you're doing just fine. Keep going.
You can only be where you are on the way to where you want to be, so do what you can each day to bridge that gap. And give yourself credit for choosing a goal that challenges you and forces you to become more than you were. That's hot stuff!
I also realized that my self-imposed timeline was NOT helping me at all so I released it completely. For some goals, timelines are essential and motivating and awesome to have. But for the kind of goals I have, they are not even relevant.
And I realized that the fact that I'm still going after my dreams after all these years despite the struggles and the distance I have yet to cover, means I really have won.
This really IS winning.
Having a dream is winning. Doing the work is winning. Falling down and getting back up is winning. Trying it in a new way is winning. Course-correcting is winning. Shifting your perspective to one that's less harsh and more loving is winning. Remaining true to yourself and your values every step of the way is winning. Showing up for your dream in whatever way your can is winning.
And if you're like me, and you're not "there" yet, and you need to do some things from here to there to make ends meet while you make your magic happen, you're really fucking winning because you're wise enough to do what needs to be done while financing those kickass dreams of yours. That's a boss move and I approve.
So if you feel like a failure right now, I invite you to think of your situation in a new way.
Think of it as:
"I'm not there yet but I know what I want. And I have no control over when or how it will happen but I trust that it will because I believe in myself and I know I wouldn't crave this dream so deeply unless it was possible for me to achieve. It wouldn't even be on my radar if it wasn't meant for me.
And I will do what it takes for as long as it takes because I deserve to have the things and feelings that I want and I definitely have what it takes to achieve it, even if I need to learn and try a helluva lot more along the way. Even if what I thought I wanted just turns out to be a stepping stone to something better.
And even as I strive towards my dream, I know that I already have everything I need, and that the dream itself won't bring me happiness and fulfillment (gifts that can be accessed right here and now inside myself and require nothing external ever) but the process itself will sure as hell support my joy in life because nothing tops working on and mastering MY shit.
And I trust that even though I want this thing more than anything, I mostly want the joy of having created it, and maybe life has something even better planned for me so maybe, just maybe, as I keep my eye on the prize and my heart in the game, I leave enough space in my plan for unexpected miracles and new directions to emerge that can take me there or somewhere better even faster than I imagined.”
With love and appreciation for improved and loving perspectives that make existing inside one's self more tolerable,
"My lifelong dream of being a vet was wiped out in high school due to total idiocy when it came to math & science. I turned to rescue and advocacy instead, which does't pay any $$ but pays in so many other, better ways. You are lucky enough to have been able to fulfill and keep fulfilling many dreams, so head up and keep on keeping on. xo" Debbie de Zwaan
"I relate completely." Ryan Fisler
P.P.S. If an erotic, poetic, insightful and vulnerable real-life fairytale is your kinda thing, I invite you to explore my soul's offering, The Poet & The Butterfly.