“Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.” -Cheryl Strayed
Does this quote mean anything to you? This advice is so difficult to remember in the moment. Days, months, even years can go by in a flash. Our upset about what we didn’t achieve gets larger and eventually takes up more energy than the energy we are putting towards a dream that can be.
Living this advice is easier said than done. It’s important to have your feelings and honor any dreams you have lost. There are no dreams too small or insignificant to appreciate. And we must move on. Sometimes we move on when we are feeling better, when we have had time to heal and lick our wounds, but sometimes we can move forward while we are still grieving.
Many believe that this is not possible or “correct”. I disagree. Sometimes a loss may linger in many shapes and forms for years. People who have had a pregnancy loss may think about it and feel sad on every anniversary of the loss. A parent who used donor conception to have her child may brush her daughter’s silky straight hair and wish she could have conversations about how difficult it is to brush knotted curly hair the way she did with her mother. A couple may get tired playing in the playground with their child, and even though they are happy, they may have a moment of sadness, wishing they had children sooner, when they had a little more energy.
Just because we can appreciate what we have lost does not mean we can’t also feel good about what have, or put energy into other dreams. As long as we don’t try to stuff our grief, the pursuit of something beneficial can fuel our journey and bolster us to face the next hard thing head on.
Although so many of us intuitively see joy and sadness, and hope and disappointment as black and white experiences, it is important to remember that we are complex human beings with a wide range of emotions. We must accept who we are. Our sadness and our dreams can live together. If we can remember this and keep our minds open to all kinds of dreams, then we may achieve more and do it as our full selves.