During the past few weeks, I have encounter a handful of instances in which I was reminded that the past cannot be what someone continually plays in the forefront of their mind if they want to move forward to a life even better than they had originally planned.
So why do people gaze so longingly at their past? While most accept that life is perpetually changing, and nothing can be held as routine for eternity, there is comfort to be found in what we know,or have known, even if wasn’t all roses and fairy dust. In knowing, you know how to behave, interact, respond and in the end, you can go to bed at night comforted in that knowledge without worry to keep you awake.
I recently finished reading Liz Tuccillo’s novel How to be Single and it concludes with a message anyone can heed in their own life regardless of their marital status. Often, the life someone has planned and expected for themselves takes a detour, begins to follow a course that wasn’t expected, but instead of trying to conquer the new course, a person will fight it like a child who has been transferred to a new school. Instead of picking up their head and realizing all of the new opportunities that are in front of them, they stubbornly waste all of their energy cursing the fact that they were forced to leave the school they had become accustomed to.
Shedding the desire of the life you thought you wanted, in essence letting go of a dream that will never be, isn’t easy. It’s not like unbelting a robe that simply falls to the floor, but instead like trying to wriggle out of a dress that fit you like a glove. It takes work and conscious, careful effort.
Changing course while in the middle of adulthood, or at any point where you’ve spent time, emotions and energy pursuing a goal, only to realize you cannot travel it anymore and must choose a different path, is daunting even frightening at times. Sometimes the decision to pursue a different life is made for you, and sometimes it is a decision you have made for yourself in order to realize an even better dream.
For example: You thought “Joe” was the one you were going to spend the rest of your life with, but when it came down to it, your dreams were at completely different ends of the spectrum, or, the career you began to study for in college is not the one that your heart is engaged it. However, to be the adult, you must recognize that if you have to go against your own principles to make your dream happen, it is not a dream that you should continue to pursue. And is it really a dream if you would dread each day you were living it?
Changing the game plan feels at times as though you are starting from scratch again, but if you take into consideration all of the experience you have gained, all of the people you have met and education you have absorbed, you actually are further ahead of someone who is just starting out toward the end goal you now have defined as your intended target. Take advantage of the lost dream and use it as proof that you are that much closer to finding the path you were intended to travel. Instead of defeat, see it as an evolution of yourself, growth if you will. As Oprah puts it,“The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.”
Now turn back around. Stop looking behind you, and instead start striding forward. The future is waiting. After all, Christopher Columbus said it best, “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”