By Dawn Onley
I had life all figured out.
I would be married by 25, have two kids by the time I was in my early 30s and adopt a third. I would climb my way up the journalism ladder, jumping from newspaper to newspaper until I finally landed at The New York Times. I dreamed of working there.
Then the bottom fell out. In journalism. In my marriage. In the best laid plans for my life.
I was one of those people who knew exactly what I wanted to do for a living by the time I was in high school. I was proud of myself for using deductive reasoning to arrive at the decision to major in journalism – it would afford me a career in writing, one that offered a consistent paycheck (even if at times that paycheck was paltry), and it would still enable me to feel like I was shining a light on things and somehow making them better.
But what do you do when the bottom falls out? How do you deal with the failures in your life?
Many people get stuck right here, in this place, because their dreams didn’t occur the way they envisioned. But as bestselling author Janet Fitch says “the phoenix must burn to emerge.”
My first marriage went up in flames. Married at 27 and divorced at 33, I found myself starting over at a time that I dreamed of starting a family. My journalism career took a different route because life decisions make you go left sometimes instead of right. There is no manual for the improvised life. You have to learn to maneuver as you go along, every sad bend and uncertain turn of the journey.
One thing I learned is that things we never see coming can knock us off our feet for sure. But if we can muster the courage and the strength to get back up and go at it again and again and again, wonderful things can happen. Eventually, we start to dream again and plan again and talk with assurance as if we forgot the pain — or in spite of it.
Pretty soon we’re getting married again and having children and landing fulfilling jobs. We are meeting new friends and forging new bonds, and learning more about ourselves along the way.
We are emerging victorious, even better than before. If we can just hold out until the latter days, God will prosper us. It is written.
Sometimes it’s best to let an old dream die, so that a new dream can live.