I’ve realized something about myself as of late; I tend to look into my future a lot. The places I long to travel (I’m coming, Iceland!), my business that’s in the works, what my future relationships could look like; these intangible thoughts find color and shape as I dwell on them and begin to dream. Though some of us may not consider ourselves creative in the traditional sense, I would argue that if we dream, we are artists.
As artists, we stand before the blank canvas of the unknown. We fill the white space with color, anticipating our coming reality with grandeur. In our minds, our future is vibrant with varying shades, every moment exciting and filled with life.
However, we may find that once our future becomes our present, our colorful masterpiece portraying what we expected fails to match reality. We don’t feel vibrant, lively or encouraged at all. In our creating of a masterpiece, did we set ourselves up for disappointment?
We instinctively seek to better ourselves. We are dreamers who long to see all that has not happened crystalize into our reality. Naturally, when we long for more than what we see, we find ourselves wanting; we are not where we want or had expected to be. It can be discouraging to look around our present circumstance and find that we are nowhere near where we resolved to be when we eagerly painted our future.
Well, for us dreamers, this is not out of the ordinary or the end of the masterpiece we envisioned! Where we are may not be where we want to be, and we may not feel as we want to feel. And that’s okay!
Our circumstances do not determine who we are or what we are capable of. They may cause us to feel a certain way, perhaps to lean towards a certain outlook, but to live out our dreams does not mean to live in a state of perfection where the dream comes easily.
Life brings about both mountains and valleys, and if we are being perfectly honest with ourselves, we don’t have much control over that. We do, however, have control over how we choose to think and respond in those situations.
It is a choice to chase our dreams and engage in our passions; it is active, not passive. So what can we choose? In the face of discouragement, heartache or pain, how can we pursue our dreams?
One thing that has become very obvious to me over my past month has been the presence of “shoulds” in my life. Shoulds create an expectation of what ought to be reality. It is defined in the dictionary as a word “used to indicate obligation, duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.”
When it comes to where we are in life, we need to eliminate shoulds! Because shoulds are dream crushers. They make you look at where you are and feel trapped, hopeless, passionless. They give you the impression that you have failed. They create an expectation of perfection: “I should have already accomplished this, or gotten to this level in performance, or should feel excited and alive but in all honesty I feel lousy.” Shoulds have the power to give birth to unreasonable expectations for ourselves, with which we will always find ourselves falling short.
If we survey our goals and aspirations without the presence of unreasonable shoulds, we can choose to live with a standard of grace, not a standard of perfection. Living with a standard of grace allows for us to live in the midst of our circumstances, whatever they may be, in peace. Thus, we are free to chase our dreams, knowing that we haven’t failed to achieve the “perfect” place to start.
Where we are right now, whether it be on the top of the mountain drinking in the breathtaking view, or in the depths of the valley looking upward toward the peaks with longing, is the perfect place to choose. Choose to dream. Choose to create in color.