A Dream Deferred? When Your Ideal Life Isn’t What You Thought It Would Be

August 16, 2013  |  


What becomes of a dream deferred?

It goes to a cubicle and dies.

In 2011, I sat slumped in my uncomfortable office chair, surrounded by piles of paperwork and my own mind’s clutter. I pushed away from the desk.

“I can’t do this anymore.”

I could no longer sit like milk on the shelf of my office waiting to spoil. There had to be something more out there for me than a job that was slowly draining the life out of my spirit like the air in a forgotten birthday balloon.

What was my dream? I remember shuffling through old notebooks and sticky notes. Confused how my dream had a long forgotten item on the to-do list. It had been replaced by needs for money, security, recognition and a host of other things that only left me fully employed and spiritually empty.

My initial reaction was to count the reasons why I couldn’t do it. Money, location, time, space, it’s Tuesday and life changes can only start on Mondays, fatigue and whatever else comes to mind. All of which are changing variables and would eventually come together if I just tried rather than wallowing in excuses.  When I pushed back from my desk that day, I pushed full steam ahead into finding my purpose and passion.

I went full steam ahead trying to “get there” and one day I finally arrived. A new city, new job, a brand new life and I was….struggling.

What happens when you take the leap of faith and you crash land instead of soaring high?

A good friend of mine said, “Just because you got there, doesn’t mean you are supposed to stay there. Perhaps there is more.” The finish line you saw in the distance was really just the starting line to another race. Although I had broken free of my cubicle, it turns out that the journey to achieve my dream wasn’t just that simple jump.

It was in this moment that true discouragement set in. Here I was, had risked it all, and found myself unsatisfied again and itching for more. While in pursuit of who you were always meant to be, occasionally you will encounter a dream deferred…again.

Every leap of faith won’t be in the right direction. Every road won’t end with a pot of gold. The part no one tells you about pursuing your passion is that you might get it partially wrong before you get it all the way right.

It was time to regroup. I revisited my notebooks and sticky notes and devised a new plan. Even a wrong turn serves a purpose and I will say that the first leap brought me to new experiences and new perspectives. I now understood that I could leap, fall, crash, tumble and get back up with my wig still on straight.

Although I wanted the fairy tale story that I leaped and landed in paradise, occasionally we miss the mark. Does that mean give up? Does that mean it’s never going to happen? Absolutely not. It means you go back to the drawing board, a little wiser and a whole lot stronger, and begin again. One of my favorite quotes speaks to this:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pursuing your purpose and recapturing your dream deferred is more than just one leap. You can chose to send your dream to a cubicle to die. You can chose to take that one time you failed as a sign to stay in a mediocre place. Or you can pick yourself up and jump just one more time. Have the strength to start all over again and be who you were always meant to be.


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