It’s an age old quandary. A loaded question that burns at the center of our modern human existence. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
We all want to know what others dream of becoming. Achieving. Owning. Conquering. Changing. Accomplishing. We ask our children, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’. We ask our impending high school graduates, ‘What are your aspirations? What are your plans? What do you want to major in?’. We ask our siblings, our friends, our lovers – ‘Where do you see yourself in ten years?’.
Dreams provide a delicious, soul feeding potion that we draw upon for initiative.
To have intense yearnings of the heart is to demonstrate, consciously, a quest for more and growth. Personal, professional or monetary. It’s a journey we’re expected to embark on as soon as we’re capable of cognitive thought.
And we often just call them dreams. Because that sums up the growth and the more, but it adds passion and purpose.
Dreams are vital
Dreams are an intricate fusion of reality and the perceived future. They propel us forward. Dreams provide a delicious, soul feeding potion that we draw upon for initiative. And we use them to shape our decisions, sometimes to the point of fixation and inflexibility. After all, we know that achieving a dream involves focus and work. We know we cannot simply wish our dreams into fruition. You need hustle. Sweat. Inexhaustible drive. The ability to keep your eye on the prize.
Dreams are also infectious. Your dream, having been expressed, becomes the ambition of the people within your circle too. That’s the signpost of a good, supportive relationship, isn’t it? Your nearest and dearest, standing tall in your corner and rooting you on. Sometimes, that exuberance and ‘atta boy/girl’ attitude fills us with the motivation to just get the hell out there and chase that dream.
And those dreams- they’re also pliant.
Meaning, what you dream of today, or ten years from now, is not, decidedly, your magnum opus.
What ‘chu say?!
A dream you held in fierce exaltation three years ago may no longer call out to you in the same sublime voice. What felt like perfect truth yesterday may not today. This is a side-effect of our personal evolution. Can you tell me right now, that you are precisely the same person today that you were a year ago? How about five years ago? What about ten? As we grow older, and begin to seat more comfortably into our unique identity – our perceptions of the world (and ourselves) also change.
So whether that dream is still on your vision board or something you’ve grasped and lived…its magic may be fading into the distance. This awareness can be disappointing. Even puzzling.
This is all I ever dreamed of for my life. Why don’t I feel the sense of contentment and completion I expected? Why am I intrigued by this path that leads in a different direction?
Because, dearest one, you are not determinate or fixed or definite. Some things are. Time, the position of the stars, the change of the seasons. But you, and your exquisite journey of discovery, are not subject to those bounds. What we seek in life should be an accomplice to our fulfillment – never an obligation.
What we seek in life should be an accomplice to our fulfillment – never an obligation.
The truth is that we are in constant flux. Growing pains are normal. Some would argue, necessary even.
But what do we do with those dreams? Those precisely defined and detailed yearnings of our heart? How do you digest a sense of betrayal against, well, yourself? Who am I now? What will I tell my most important people that are supporting me? Do I have the courage to explain that I am envisioning something different for my life?
There is nothing wrong with saying goodbye to a dream you’ve outgrown.
It’s OK to change career paths.
It’s OK to walk away from an opportunity you were given.
It’s OK to leave a great job and pursue a different one.
It’s OK to take a hiatus from your professional field and explore a new one.
It’s OK to pack up and move to another city, state or country.
It’s OK to shelf a goal, and revisit it when you’re ready.
It’s OK to look at a relationship, however established, and know it’s time to let go.
It’s OK to have radically different dreams all occupying the same space.
It’s OK to admit, to yourself, that your dream wasn’t what you expected.
Our dreams are highly personal, and they serve us… Not the reverse. A dream, when the dreamer has abandoned their intent, is meaningless. If you are not inspired, why are you still in reckless pursuit? Ultimately, the exceptional person you see in the mirror today was created, in part, by that dream. It cradled you and carried you into the now.
Ultimately, the exceptional person you see in the mirror today was created, in part, by that dream. It cradled you and carried you into the now.
What we seek in life should be an accomplice to our fulfillment – never an obligation. Joy is reflexive when you listen to your inner voice. Even when you’re frightened. Even when that voice is in sharp disagreement with everyone else in your life. Even when you want to ignore it and be a powerhouse of practicality.
Releasing the dream
Saying goodbye to a dream you’ve outgrown is a profound act of courage, and you have that boldness within you. You are under no obligation to fulfill a lifetime of dreams for anyone other than yourself. That includes paying dues to the you of the distant past.
So in letting go, give gratitude to your dream. Take extensive pleasure in the ways it moved you. Ultimately, the exceptional person you see in the mirror today was created, in part, by that dream. It cradled you and carried you into the now. Like an immense river, cutting paths through hard-shelled earth to reach its destination.
You’re free to go. Valiantly, splendidly and honorably.