… When you’re totally confused and don’t know what to do.
Hi hi! I hope your week is going well.
I’ve had this ‘life chat’ post burning a hole in my drafts for two months. If reading Brene Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly’ has taught me anything, it’s that vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Remember Brene’s famous TedTalk on the Power of Vulnerability? It is, undoubtedly, one of the most influential TedTalks out there (and if you haven’t watched it – get on it!) In Daring Greatly, Brene confesses that she was terrified no one would show up to her Power of Vulnerability lecture. She didn’t think her speech would resonate with anyone. (What??!!) The main reason why I haven’t published this post was because of my own fear of vulnerability; but it’s something I’m learning to change my mind about.
Now, I am definitely no Brene Brown, but I am a human being who experiences the same challenges as everyone else. Our circumstances may vary, but our emotions and struggles are very much the same.
Have you ever taken inventory of your life and wondered, “Is this as good as it gets? Have I reached the pinnacle of my existence?” … and then felt scared, anxious or disappointed because you thought life would turn out to be completely different than the place you’re at now? Your friends seem to have it all together (well, most days, anyways): they’ve graduated from university, are settling into relationships, marriages and careers, having kids. Following the seemingly natural progression that most twenty and thirty-somethings do. Maybe you’ve already traveled down the same path, or part of it. But something feels off and you can’t pinpoint why. Or where you went wrong. If you went wrong. You feel like you’re simply existing, instead of living. Questioning who you are. What you should do with this little old life of yours.
I hear ya.
If any of this resonates with you, let’s chat.
It’s common knowledge (I think?) that in order to create a life filled with a sense of purpose, we need to develop soul-centered goals and take action. But what if you’re feeling lost, uncertain and don’t even know what your goals are? Or maybe your goals and beliefs have changed over the years. You’ve simply outgrown them.
I’m breaking today’s post down into three key reminders that will help! Based on societal observations, trends within my circles of friends and acquaintances, in addition to my own personal experiences, these tips can be used as a starting point to launching and living a life you’re proud of.
1. Discover your passions.
Don’t you hate it when experts tell us to create a life or career centered around our passions and strengths? Yeah thanks, as if we didn’t have half a brain to figure out that concept on our own. The problem is, most of us aren’t sure what our passions are. Where do we find them? Where should we start? That’s where we get stuck and quit. It’s easy to become apathetic and numb.
The most simple answer is: try something new. Anything at all! The best time to start is now. It doesn’t matter what it is: a yoga class, nature photography, a solo vacation, a blind date, running, learning a second language, getting a part time ‘fun job’ at Lululemon. The ‘what’ isn’t important at this stage, it’s truly about stepping out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to Life.
Who cares if you haven’t done it before – that’s the beauty of it. Trying something different opens your mind to new ways of thinking and develops a new sense of confidence. The biggest takeaway you’ll notice:
-You’ll always figure out what you want by knowing what you DON’T WANT. Let’s think back to a time when a relationship we thought we wanted went sideways. After the relationship ended, in hindsight, we knew we wouldn’t want to be in that situation again. Negative experiences (yes, even a-holes) are our greatest teachers: albeit terrible in the moment, it teaches us to recognize when someone fantastic comes along.
2. Let go of the need for external circumstances or people to “BE” a specific way. I am definitely guilty of thinking, “When __ happens, or I get __, THEN I’ll truly be happy and fulfilled” This constant state of striving creates a false mentality of ‘never having enough”. It’s our own worst enemy and isn’t conducive for personal growth! If you ever find yourself becoming frustrated when someone isn’t showing up for you the way you want them to, or you’re not getting the things you want, it’s because you’re asking yourself the wrong questions. The easiest and quickest way remedy it is to re-frame the question with something like, “What is it that I need to experience or learn from this person or situation?”
-More often than not, life is trying to work it’s way into our consciousness but we can’t see it because we’re too busy focusing on the things we don’t have (and probably don’t need). We just think we do. Our thoughts can be totally crazy sometimes. We have these false identities and ideas about ourselves. (And that’s okay! Irrational thoughts are totally part of the human experience. But we can learn to dial it back, recognize it as false and regain control.) So, instead of us telling the universe how WE need things to be in order to be safe and happy, we’re simply shifting our perception and allowing the universe to show US what we need. Spoiler alert: it’s usually way better, too. It’s like praying for a Ford then receiving a Benz.
3. You get more than once chance. Life doesn’t end because you made a “perceived” mistake. Don’t worry about ‘getting it right the first time’. You’re going to F*$K up. A lot. Like a lot a lot. And really, is there such thing as a mistake? Or even ‘getting it right’? I really don’t think there is!
In those moments, remember this: Be patient, be kind and practice forgiving yourself. The people who cruise through life trying to avoid making mistakes or upsetting others endure the most suffering. Why? Because they’re trying to create and live inside a false reality that dictates they can make life fair and orderly. That they can control the outcome. Remember what I said earlier about needing to experience crappy things in order to recognize what’s real? The same logic applies. The biggest mistake I’ve ever made was getting married way too young to a guy I didn’t truly want to be with. One of my best friends attempted to deny the fact he was gay by marrying a woman. What we both had in common is that we denied our personal pain in an attempt to lessen everyone else’s suffering. We ended up making ourselves small so we wouldn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers. When we made the choice to be vulnerable and honest with everyone, a painful death of the false self and rebirth of the authentic Self occurred. You can’t run or hide from the truth. You just can’t.
One of my favourite lessons from Daring Greatly teaches us that owning our story can be hard. But not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities can be risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us most vulnerable. Soooo gooooood. SO GOOD!!! Ahhh.
Last but not least, if all else fails, remember this:
Over to you, friends. What are some bittersweet life lessons you’ve learned over the years? How did you learn what and who you wanted in your life (by knowing what you definitely did NOT want)?