How To Let Go of a Dream

Ever given everything you had to achieve your dream and found out it’s all wrong? Here’s how I navigated the same situation with grace.

Photo by Lacie Slezak

When I was a little girl I wanted to be in the NBA, just like the Air Jordan poster tacked to my bedroom wall. When I was in high school I dreamed of being a sports broadcaster. Then I got scouted to be a fashion model and my dream changed course. Being a model sounded way more fun than any of the other previous dreams!

A week before college started I deferred and was sent off to Paris to launch my modeling career. There was one problem: I looked too “athletic.” I had the body of a strong woman and wasn’t wise enough to find the beauty in the space that body occupied. I had spent all summer starving and still wasn’t what they wanted me to be. The carrot had been waved and a vision of glamour, travel and money was imprinted in my small town, 18 year old brain. I was getting out of there and wasn’t about to let something like my natural body type stand in the way. I abused my body with torturous workouts and diet pills. My career was blooming, I dreamed of being in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue but I could feel my dream was out of alignment with my authentic self, the real me with quads full of muscle. My soul was screaming for me to listen but my ego said “don’t fail, don’t quit on your dream.”

I took some time off. Then I went back. I had success again but my soul still screamed no. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t making the world a better place. I was completely self-involved. My weight was still a constant topic of conversation. I didn’t have high quality relationships. It was still all wrong.

Letting go of what was once my dream was painful. I mourned, but knew I was doing the right thing. I thought hard about what the next right move was. I didn’t know.

So what did I do? I recognized I needed to learn how to quiet my mind enough to hear that small still voice inside that guides us. I started practicing yoga, meditation, breathwork and other practices that allowed me to listen. I went to a mountain top in India. Twice. Being without technology for a few weeks will really help you hear that inner voice. I released toxic relationships.I tried to listen to what I DID love and do more of that. I wanted more time outdoors and friends that wanted a vibrant and outstanding life. It’s true we are only as good as the five people we surround ourselves with most. I learned to become self-aware enough to hear that voice inside nudging me back to the West Coast.

Nature, a spiritual community and incredible friends showed up in my life. The new friends guided me closer towards what I wanted. I cried a lot. Letting go was still hard. This was all very uncomfortable for someone who likes certainty in her life. My mom didn’t understand why I couldn’t just go to college and get a job like everyone else.

When I couldn’t stay away from the West Coast any longer I rented a car and drove up and down the Pacific Coast Highway in California where I now live and just felt what it would feel like to have the wind on my face here. I relaxed. The slower pace of life in California allowed me to hear it was all going to be okay and that the loss I felt was here to wake me up. I had gotten off track, but there are never any mistakes. I needed what I had accomplished in New York to get where I was going.

I finally mustered the courage to leave Manhattan and hardly told a soul it was so difficult for me. I cried more. It got tough financially even though I thought I was prepared with more than enough savings. My modeling agency dumped me. That hurt, but I knew it was for the best. There were times when I wondered what I had done? Who leaves what I had for the unknown?

But then I found the love of my life in my second month in California. He eased the difficulty of the transition. The right people always show up when you are on your soul path. I sucked up my ego and did some silly jobs I never thought I would do just because I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do next. Through serendipity female mentors showed up for me and my true calling started becoming more clear. I kept using my tools to get still and listen for the next right move.

Six years later and I’m living where I always wanted to live, have a beautiful family and a career as a nutrition and wellness coach I’m more than passionate about. It didn’t happen overnight but my faith kept me hanging on when times were dark. I built faith by following the whispers. The whispers are here so we never have to hear the screams. You have them too.

Just remember, there are no mistakes. Each and every experience is here to help us arrive at the next opportunity prepared, and with open arms.

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