Thoughts of Future, vs. Reality

I read somewhere once that when you think of your future self, you’re likely envisioning yourself in an overwhelmingly (probably even unrealistic) positive scenario.

Where will you be 20 years from now? Lemme guess – you’ll be a millionaire with the love of your life (and great children) living in a mansion, or something to that effect. Depending on your ambitions, you’ll also be an Oscar-or-Grammy-or-Emmy-or-Pulitzer-winner. Others will virtually worship you for your generosity and wisdom, and you’re doing all sorts of good for the world. Most importantly, you’ll beĀ super happy and loved.

I, like others, have been having these thoughts about my future self for decades. Perhaps those positive thoughts can be simply defined as ‘hope,’ but when many of us look back and compare these past thoughts and current reality, there’s a major gap, even after eliminating the most unrealistic parts (I’ve come to accept that the screenplay I wrote in college won’t win me an Oscar). That’s likely not abnormal.

When reflecting back on these thoughts I once had, let’s say when I graduated from college and hit the real world, I feel sick. I’m far past that age when wonderful things were supposed to happen. While I can’t say I’ve simply wasted these years (I know what I’ve accomplished and it’s nothing to be ashamed of), my gap in expectations vs. reality is a severe gut punch. At my age, this reality-check makes it even harder to keep envisioning a pie-in-the-sky future. Why should things change in the next 20 years, if they haven’t in the past 20?

We all hope, in the future, we’ll be happy. And, decade after decade, when that gap in hope vs. reality doesn’t close, then what?

Someone once told me to go out there and just ‘fall in love with life.’ God bless anyone who can make that happen and close that gap. Some of us, despite our best efforts, can’t make that happen, and instead return from our journeys to the same place we’ve always been. Each return brings with it greater frustration and bitterness because we didn’t turn that corner. The more risks we take along the way, the more these failures hurt. Eventually we end up as hermits, wondering where we went wrong. I don’t really believe too many people have that in mind when they’re thinking about their future selves.