When Life Grabs You By The Neck - Unbox Yourself!
Updated: May 31
Have you found yourself in a space where your world has been turned upside down, you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? You’re trying to find your purpose, and still have not figured out what your answer would be if asked: “If you could choose one thing that makes you most happy, what would it be?” If this sounds like an ad for a magic pill, where I sell you on a quick fix and the overnight solution to a happy and fulfilling life, sorry to disappoint. I am neither a psychotherapist nor a life coach but if you are experiencing similar anxieties and have come to a crossroads in your life, then take it from a stranger to make you feel a little better about yourself. You are not alone!
I’ll be 37 this year (that's my goofy self in the picture) currently living in my sister and brother-in-law’s basement, starting all over again. At the moment I am scraping by, paying my bills working odd jobs while I am in a holding place that is now amplified due to the current epidemic. Feelings of fear, shame, anxiety, depression, sadness, and angst leave me paralyzed at times.
You’re either nodding your head in agreement because you may have been in a similar situation at some point, or you’re putting on your judgement cap, thinking I should pull up my big girl pants rather than letting them dangle around my ankles. I get it! I should stop complaining about the things in my life that I could change and start "adulting" already because we all have our battles to fight, it's part of being an adult after all. I assume we can agree that life isn't simply black or white and if you’re still with me, hear me out because I promise that what sounds to you like a pity party may actually help you change your overall perspective about what's going on in your own life as well.
My sister and I went on a weekend getaway a few months ago. It was our little retreat at a cabin in the North Carolina Mountains without cell reception. Just what the two of us desperately needed.
Although my sister’s situation is a lot different from my own, at 3 years older than me, she is experiencing similar fears and struggles in her life. The overall picture looks different but the underlying message is the same. My sister is trying to fill her cup with happiness while struggling not to be defined by her job that requires her to work 10-hour days and leaves her dissatisfied. In the end she is still asking herself the same questions: “What do I want to be when I grow up? , What is that one thing that would make me truly happy?" The problem is, there isn't just one thing that makes us happy and we have various interests in multiple areas. Where we are very different in a lot of ways, we are still cut from the same cloth and therefor we keep coming back to the same conversation.
During our cabin stay, we were brutally honest with each other and ourselves. Asking questions of why we continue to find ourselves in that vicious cycle. Working hard, settling for lower-paying jobs, sticking with what’s comfortable, struggling to advance or make that leap etc. but not going after the things that really excite us because we think that they are not sustainable financially, or we don't have what it takes to make it to the next level.
My motto since that weekend has been to unbox myself from my own limiting beliefs and what I think society expects of me. I spent the weekend working on forgiveness (myself and others) and while my sister and I were sitting there in front of the fire, working on our vision boards and encouraging each other to believe that we are worthy, that we can go after our dreams, I got really excited and felt instantly euphoric once I “took the lid off”.
As soon as we got off that mountain, back home that enthusiasm started to fade quickly. In crept the toxic thoughts of “I can't pay my bills, I feel like a failure, I feel trapped, I'll just go back to waiting tables, I'm not good enough, I missed the boat.... " Right back on that roller coaster of self-deprecating thoughts and negative words coming out of my mouth! Most of us have bills to pay, not all of us are as lucky to have a trust fund or endless amounts of money, and even if you do, I believe that you’re still faced with that big question of “What’s my purpose?”
I envy the people who knew all along what their career path would be. On the contrary I also believe that through hardship and an unconventional life path I have built unique relationships, had the opportunity to travel and explore places I otherwise would have only dreamed of, and was fortunate to try myself at many different professions over the years.
Everyone deals with their lows differently but in the end, are we not all on a quest for something bigger than ourselves? To find that thing that fills our cup with happiness? To feel proud? To feel accomplished? To love ourselves?
Maybe you’re looking at me as that 36-year old loser that still doesn't have her shit together or maybe you can even relate. I am not looking for sympathy or approval.
Aside from close friends and family, very few people see that internal struggle in me. On the other side of that at times lost person stands someone that people often feel drawn to. Respected for my work ethic, people skills, and ability to adapt to change with ease, I do have my good sides too ;-)
So what point am I trying to make? We are all broken in one way or another and there isn’t a quick fix or one formula that works for us all when it comes to our internal struggles, but there is power in community and positive human interaction. So when it comes to us adventure dwelling, swimming against the stream, Nomads - Maybe we are not broken at all, we just tend to go about life a bit differently than the majority of people. So, take the lid off and unbox yourself.......
........ and on days you feel like crawling in a hole, go down this list, or create your own and keep it in your pocket:
Give yourself some Grace
Know that it is okay to feel low, you’re not alone
Baby steps (one minute, hour, day at a time)
Set goals for yourself
Accept failure because failure will make your victories feel that much sweeter
Work on breaking your pattern
Change the way you think, (positive thoughts)
Love yourself for just the way you are, not the person you think you want to be
YOU've got to do the work and the digging, no one's gonna do it for you.
Let go of trying to control the situation
Keep working on that dream of yours, no matter how crazy it sounds to others (or yourself for that matter)
Lastly, if you don't want to take it from me, check out this awesome TED talk by Emilie Wapnick on why some of us don't have one true calling.
- Socially Minded -