As a young girl, I used to envision what my life would be like. The dream was probably just like the imaginings of every other little girl, more or less: beautiful family with amazing children, handsome husband that doted on me, upper middle class and living in a nice neighborhood, job that provided meaning, respect and a comfortable living.
I had expectations around each of those things. The children were amazing, but that necessarily meant respectful, talented, attractive, smart, good students, etc. And so it was for each item on my list. In other words, I had a fairly detailed idea of how things should be.
You know what they say: Man plans. God laughs.
There’s nothing wrong with having a vision for what you want your life to be like. But now that I look back, I know that it’s ridiculous, at best, to be psychologically invested in each of those details. At worst, being so tied to a particular outcome is damaging to self and others.
I had to learn that lesson the hard way. Sticking with the kids example, those of you who have parented probably realize that getting them to fit into the stereotype of the perfect child will likely only produce the opposite effect. Not that we can’t encourage and teach them to grow up in a certain way. In the end, they must decide how to live their own lives. Failure to accept that reality can damage the relationship and teach our children that their authentic selves are unacceptable or not lovable.
We may also be drawing the same conclusions about ourselves when we fail to meet our own narrowly defined expectations.
Now, I try to use the metaphor of aiming my life toward the broad side of a barn, or maybe more appropriately, a small city. I know the general direction and I steer there, but realize that many detours (whether obstacles or opportunities – you can’t always tell the difference) will divert me to possibly a better path. Aiming for too narrow an objective can create frustration and damage and cause us to miss something wonderful that we previously haven’t considered as an option.
In other words, sometimes life is even more rich and wonderful than our wildest imaginings. Why would we want to limit life to only what we can picture at that young and naïve age when we first envision our perfect life?
Life is a beautiful journey full of unknown surprises and wonder. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.