Sunday, January 19, 2014

Remnants of Old Expectations

I used to have a quote printed out and taped to my giant old computer monitor, in some scrawling, popular-in-the-90's font:

Be sure your dreams are still your dreams, and not just remnants of old expectations.

The tape lost its stickiness and the quote fell off my ancient computer monitor more than a decade ago, but the sticking power of the quote is evident this morning. The words keep winding through my mind, scrawling in that same pretentious font:

Be sure your dreams are still your dreams, and not just remnants of old expectations.

Funny how our minds work, surfacing old sayings and platitudes that actually (much as you hate to admit it) really do resonate. The truth is that life rarely looks anything like we pictured it might. That's part of why I started this particular blog, after all. Because I never pictured myself being a thirtysomething before getting engaged. Or getting engaged without a proposal, for that matter. TRUST ME when I say that over the years, my vivid imagination dreamed up many a beautiful, elaborate, this-will-go-down-in-the-record-books proposal scenario... none of which looked like my real-life engagement, a question-less agreement made while sitting at home eating pizza on a Monday night.

I also never pictured that the whole wedding thing would take sort of a backseat due to the rest of life taking over - i.e. planning a cross-country move while planning a wedding while working full time WHILE having no idea what my professional life will look like post-move, because I'm moving due to my future-spouse's new job.

All of which is on my mind, of course. But as this quote plays through my mind this morning, I'm also thinking about the fact that I've been so focused on logistics that I haven't even been thinking about dreams much at all.

Be sure your dreams are still your dreams, and not just remnants of old expectations.

For some, dreams are constant. There are those who know from an early age that they want to be a doctor, or a musician, and never lose focus. For others, dreams are evolving. A little girl may go from wanting to be a ballerina to a firefighter to a veterinarian.

But for all of us, dreams must be not only remembered, but also renewed. Chasing old dreams because they are our familiar old goals for ourselves, or worse yet because they are the long-standing goals others have had for us, but which no longer resonate... well, that's no way to catch a dream.

So unwrap yourself. Shake out the old expectations, dust them off, look at them in the sunlight. If they still look like what you want, suit up again in your newly polished dreams. If they no longer look like they fit, cast them off and go seek a new dream to put on and keep with you. Renew, or re-align, but either way, check in on your dreams. They are not static things.

That's what I'm reminding myself to do, anyway, as I get ready for at least three major life changes (moving, marriage, making money - sorry, that was the best 'career shift' alliteration I could come up with on short notice). I'm also learning to appreciate the unexpected realities that don't align with my dreams, but sometimes lead to something even better. After all, on the love-and-marriage front, I'll never have a proposal that will inspire envy - even if it should, because that pizza was DELICIOUS - but I feel more certain than I ever could have dreamed that our marriage will be enviable, and that's way better.


  1. Well said. It is often easy to forget our dreams as life happens around us.