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When Your Ideal Meets What’s Real

Since the age of twelve an ever-widening chasm between my life’s ideal and my reality has loomed over me. The daughter of successful parents with a mother who fed me motivational quotes and self-help books as if they were milk, I’ve always been a dreamer, a goal setter and a somewhat obsessive list-maker. Deep-seeded insecurity has been the fuel driving many of my lofty, un-met goals.

In middle school I daydreamed of high school – of having a tall, baseball-playing boyfriend who drove a blue ’69 mustang; of being the standout soccer player and the captivating object of all the guy’s affection. Instead my short boyfriend dumped me for a close friend who ended up being the star player and I was perpetually single, insecure, self-loathing and awkward as a girl could get.

In high school I dreamed up my picture-perfect sketch of college: of playing soccer for a preppy East Coast university, watching division 1 football games, gallivanting with hot college guys dressed in hoodies and backward hats, and acing my college courses. My ideal collided with the reality being rejected by my dream school, being hospitalized multiple times for severe depression, gaining nearly forty pounds and not making it as a walk-on, transferring colleges three times, and barely passing a few of my classes.

It didn’t turn out how I pictured it. Me. My life. My ideal.

My life turned out messy. Jaded. Broken.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).

Sometimes I wonder how God can put back together what has not been broken.

I wonder from time to time about my old “ideal-self.” Where would she be living; where would she shop; what size jeans would she wear?

When I think of her, I realize I’d rather not know her. Perfect isn’t me. It’s not the people I love; it’s not the life I live. I’d rather be the ragamuffin girl I am who’s been saved by grace; who once was lost but now is found. Now, I’ll take real over the ideal any day.

How about you? When has your life’s ideal not reflected your life’s reality?

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