The Greatest Lessons from My 20s {part 5}

This post is part of a five-week series, The Greatest Lessons from my 20s. During the five weeks leading up to my 29th birthday, I'll be discussing the greatest lessons this decade has taught me. Read the most recent post, which is Not to Make Ourselves Smaller here.  

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Years ago, someone told me to "kill my dreams," which, at the time, I thought was just about the saddest thing I'd ever heard. Kill my dreams?

As I've gotten older, though, I've begun to understand what they meant. It wasn't a cynical-your-dreams-will-never-come-true attitude. Instead, what they were telling me was to stop living in the what I wish was happening and start living in the now. 

At the time, I was really struggling with how different the life I thought I was going to have by 26 looked compared to reality. I was single, living in an apartment in Atlanta, working a 9 to 5. The dreams I'd cultivated at 10 years old and gripped with iron fists, refusing to relinquish any part of them, were killing me. So, a friend told me to kill them. Let go of the husband, two babies and life as a stay at home mom I thought I'd have. And instead, make new dreams.

Dream about the tomorrow that may really come true, instead of the tomorrow that was slowly slipping away. Dream big and hard, but don't torture yourself with dreams that aren't meant for you. 

Killing those dreams and creating new ones has been, without a doubt, one of the greatest lessons of this decade. The thought of marrying Chris, having gotten to live in the same house at my brothers for the last two years, and pursuing a career in coaching lights me up. These things are what success at 28 has been for me, in my life.

Ten-year-old Whitney maybe would not have thought so. But, by 28 I know and believe that life's dreams aren't meant to be dictated by a younger version of myself. Something I practice a lot is not comparing my current self to my old self. So, I don't compare the way my body looks at 28 to the way it did at 18. That's just unfair to myself. And I don't compare my face at 28 to 16. Because my skin has obviously changed. And that would be unfair, too. In the same way, I refuse to compare my dreams at 28 to dreams I cultivated at a younger age.

Because today is beautiful and it's worth living. It deserves for us to be wholly & fully present, living deeply in the moment and dreaming brightly about the future. 

So, that's what the last nine years, in all their glory, have taught me. Next stop, 29!