I get together with five of my friends from graduate school once a year. In between these yearly gatherings, we have started to use a video app where we leave each other short videos about what is going on in our lives (not the social media prettied up version).
Last week, one friend proposed that we all get our families together sometime and then she stated, “Well I guess that’s really more of a fantasy. I am not sure that would work out great or easily. And maybe we really don’t want our partners and kids there anyway.” I had to laugh because she started off so hopeful and then questioned the reality of bringing in others after 20 years of a girls’ trip.
Her video illustrated what often happens for me…being excited about an idea, believing it could and should easily happen, and then managing my internal disappointment if the outcomes looks very differently than I had imagined. All of these friends have faced disappointments, losses, unexpected gifts, and moments of incredible joy. If we traverse the landscapes of our lies with open eyes, we see incredible blessings as well as significant disappointments along the way.
My impossible optimism has brought me many amazing things: a career I love, incredible travel opportunities, enriching friendships, and more. This blind optimism has also held me back from making true realizations and tough decisions such as holding necessary boundaries with others and working with the realities of my own capacity.
The truths of our lives are complicated. Our kids aren’t perfect. Our relationships have elements of disappointment and pain. We have health issues that we didn’t want. We did not become instant millionaires. We often fall short of the goals we had set for ourselves.
When we accept the realities of our lives with as much grace and honesty as we can muster, we become more genuine and true, we don’t hide from ourselves anymore, and we begin to make changes that have been calling to us for a while. We also settle in to what is and can begin to see all that is going well and right in our worlds.
None of our lives turn out exactly as we had hoped or planned. Some parts are more beautiful than we could have imagined. Some parts feel like loss. Other parts are unfinished. As my friend said today, each person’s life is worthy of a novel. A good novel involves plot twists, depth of characters, and unpredictable endings. Fantasy stories can be shallow and unfulfilling even though they easily to draw us in with empty promises of the perfect romance or incredible life.
Live your now. Take it all in…the beautiful, the messy, the easy and the hard. We come here to have a full experience, and in the end, we want what is genuine, not false. Fake sugar just makes us crave the real stuff. So when you get caught up in the fantasy, take a breath, be in your now, and keep shaping your life as best you can in the direction you are called to go.