I frequently daydream about various experiences happening in idyllic, perfect ways. Then, I battle the inevitable cycle of disappointment when reality doesn’t go according to my vision. As I thought about daydreams versus reality, I was reminded of reflections. In an image, the reflection is a slightly distorted portrayal of the real thing, similar to how reality often seems to be a slightly distorted version of an idealized daydream.
In reality, the imperfect and messy can sometimes be disappointing, making it easy to hyper-focus on how the experience didn’t match the imagery of the perfected daydream. This can make it difficult to appreciate all the good that did happen despite the imperfections.
This trap into daydream-reality comparison made me think about what Jessica and I shared in the introduction of our Unexpected Ever Afters blog. We often get caught up creating fairytale stories of how life should be. Then, sometimes, disappointment is sparked simply by considering what we thought certain aspects of life would look like to what it actually looks like. Other times we compare our circumstances to those around us (social media has certainly exacerbated this bad habit) in an attempt to assess our success in relation to our friends and family. Of course, I accept the truth that life rarely turns out exactly the way I envision. Life isn’t that simple. However, I still often find myself fixating on the disappointments and frustrations over the imperfect unexpecteds that fill my daily life.
Then, recently, as I spent some time contemplating all of this, in the softest of whispers and gentlest of nudges, it occurred to me that maybe I have it all upside down. By focusing on reality as being an imperfect version of my daydream, similar to the reflection image being an imperfect version of the real thing, maybe I’m actually viewing life upside down. Maybe the truth is that my daydreams are the distorted reflection of the beautiful version of my reality.
As I took time to really explore this notion, I started to think through various scenarios, experiences, interactions, memories, and relationships in my life and how they have often unfolded in unexpected ways. And yet, despite all the imperfections, something more beautiful than anything in my carefully crafted daydreams occurred over and over again: love.
This is where I confirmed that my initial reflection analogy was actually upside down and the new version, where the daydream is the imperfect distortion, really fits. I had always focused on how my reality is a distorted version of my daydreams, and fixated on the disappointment when they didn’t align, when in fact, the misalignment is often beautiful. I find this concept really highlighted when considering friendship. Friendships are one of the most beautiful aspects of reality yet they are full of paradoxes as they are also a jumble of mess and imperfection. Friendships are messy and complicated because we are all messy and complicated; connecting through the imperfection is part of what makes a relationship beautiful. There’s a depth of beauty that occurs in a connection with people who know my past, my mistakes, the innumerable ways my words come out sideways, and still love and accept me. And there’s a beauty in acknowledging how imperfect we all are; how we all act in unexpected ways and how beautiful the connections are despite it all. The love from real connections truly permeates the whole of reality, turning the imperfect into a beauty that exceeds even the most idyllic daydream.
With this new perspective of reality often outshining my daydreams, I realize that I need to change the narrative that I allow to circulate in my mind. It is a significant perspective shift to stop focusing on all the ways my life isn’t “perfect” or “ideal.” Instead, I want to intentionally accept that sometimes the way things happen, in their imperfect, unexpected manners, is actually truly beautiful. I’ve started to entertain the voice that whispers gentle reminders of how I need to learn to enjoy my messy reality and focus on all the good still present even in the most unexpected and imperfect of experiences.
Looking back over the course of my life, there have been a lot of imperfect moments, unexpected aspects, and a whole lot of mess. And yet, somehow, despite (or maybe even in some circumstances because of) the imperfections, life has turned into a beautiful tapestry that even I couldn’t have envisioned within all my perfected daydreams.
Wendi, her husband, and their two kids live in Minnesota and are currently perfecting their best “ya sure you betcha” accents. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters and enjoys sipping extra hot coffee, sharing a love of reading with her kids, and exploring bike trails.
*photo credit: personal photo*
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