What we need to remember when we feel totally lost
Over the last few years, I’ve been watching my Facebook feed progress in life stages. First, there was the engagement boom. Then came the weddings, the wedding hashtags, the honeymoons, the honeymoon hashtags, and the settling in period. Now, my feed is full of pregnancy announcements. Firstborn babies are coming into the world for so many couples I know by the end of this year and next year.
And then there’s me. I totally love this good juju on my feed, but I have a hard time relating to these particular life roads. My own road couldn’t be further from where (seemingly) everyone is! I’ve been contemplating yet another career change and moving around some more. I want to turn my phone off, forever. I’ve been craving a few years of solitude in the middle of the open plains and a few more spent in a city where nobody knows my name. I can never stay put in one place for too long and always feel as though I’m missing out on adventure that is within my grasp. Oh, and I’m broke. That’s important because most everyone on my newsfeed looks like they’re handling life money perfectly 24/7 and have no debt at all.
In Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of walking the Pacific Crest Trail, there’s a moment early on in her trek where she mumbles, “What have I done?” I say this to myself internally more than I’d like to admit. Why did I take that job, date that person, and move in that direction? Why did I choose this path? There are bumps in the road and there’s my road, which is literally covered in craters. I’m not even 30 yet – that road is going to get WAY bumpier and just thinking about that scares me senseless sometimes. But while reading the book, I was astonished she could ask herself such a question. What have I done? You did the best thing! You went on a journey to find yourself. Her walk wouldn’t be easy, but I could already tell it was going to be a success. Even if she didn’t think so and had absolutely no clue what brought her to this stage in her life.
What does success look like to someone who doesn’t know you? To me, it has a lot to do with comparing and contrasting what you’ve got against everyone you know. We can’t help doing this either, thanks to social media. You only ever see a snippet of someone’s life on Instagram or Twitter, but it’s the best, shiniest snippet possible. The gross parts of the day – making a big mistake at work, stepping in dog poop, getting a text from the person you’re dating that starts with “we need to talk” – those moments are never going to be photographed and shared.
But here’s the thing. The gross parts of the day happen to everyone, even to our friends who look like they’re gliding through life without any problems. Nobody has it all figured out, not even the people with a million trophies. There’s no one road that is “the right way to do life.” Just a million little ones that, like people, are tailored to what we need as individuals. There are good and bad aspects to these roads alike, so many of which we cannot avoid, and shouldn’t try to either.
You’re doing a fabulous job on your life road. Don’t try to convince yourself for a second that you aren’t! If you are trying, you are learning. What happens if it doesn’t work out? You learned, you tried, and now you can tuck those memories in your pocket and keep moving forward. Nothing was lost and everything was gained. Your road can only continue getting better, bumps and all, so enjoy the ride and keep your head held high.
(Image vis Fox Searchlight Pictures)