I have a few friends who are recently engaged and a few with first babies on the way. Which brought me back to some of the feelings I had when I was a new parent. Also my youngest is about to finish his last week of pre-school, of course making me sentimental...
I love to go through magazines and tear out pages that speak to me, and I found a black and white picture of two small kids sleeping in their parent's bed. I loved the image, but then after reading the caption, I loved it even more. A mother's second child was born with Downs Syndrome that hadn't been detected before birth. She was the first to notice even before the doctors, she saw her daughter's features and she knew. In the days following the birth she grieved for the child she didn't have, the one she had dreams for that were no longer possible. But as time passed, she learned about her daughter by what the child revealed, not what the condition presented. To her parents, she wasn't "the girl with Downs", rather she was the girl who loved her teddy bear, who builds with blocks, who asks a million questions and is always smiling. While the world started as two distinct periods - life before her birth, and after with the challenges, over time the line has faded. She realized she could do it all along - she had enough love and strength to be this little girl's mother, she just didn't know it.
Everyone goes through tests. A friend hurts you and you can't go back to how close you once were. A marriage comes to an end and you mourn the future that will never happen. Your dream career hasn't taken you where you expected and you can't see a way out. But with all of these challenges, we need to shift our paradigm of how we see ourselves in those roles. Eventually the gap between then and now becomes less severe. You start to feel like yourself again, maybe with the contentment of who you are, having weathered a storm and found yourself still standing. And to read a story about someone like this mother can embolden us on our way.
If things aren't quite how you might like, set a goal and work your way back to where you are. What do you need to be closer to that definition of success? Is it a monetary amount that would make you feel secure? Do you need to have a conversation with someone to express your hurt or expectations of them? When you have a clear idea of where you want to be and not a vague idea or feeling, you can take sure steps in the right direction. Much less frustrating than wandering around and complaining.
You might be living your dream already, but haven't been awake enough to see, you're already there.