If you’d ask me about the second half of this winter and the spring, I could only tell you about the inconsequential moments. I made granola and let it roast too long; I took a walk; later, I watched the trees sprout leaves with aching slowness. The plants’ painstaking budding process reminded me of myself, and this was a small comfort. But what remains most vivid is the aching emptiness that grew steadily inside me as my plans for the year fell, one by one, to pieces. Of course, it’s inevitable in life to be left suddenly without the safety net of your plans—those two fickle words. Why, then, does being without them feel so miserably isolating?
In public, I laughed it off, or at least tried, and did my best to avoid the worst small talk question of them all: “so, what do you do?”. Then I came home and teetered on the edges of anxiety and hopelessness. Completing the trio of shabby feelings came shame because, after all, I still had my wonderful, supportive husband, a beautiful place to call home, money to pay the bills, bourgeoning friendships to tend, and wasn’t I being ungrateful and dramatic? Truly, life could be so much bleaker…but also, life without a specific purpose is no life at all.
Perhaps some of the struggle stems from one of the downfalls of modern Western society—too much pressure to Become Somebody, to Be the Change You Want to See, to Just Follow Your Dream, and not in two or five or ten years, but right now. This isn’t the first time I’ve battled with wanting to do it all but being unsure of what it is, the feeling that there has to be more to life. How do you balance all the forces that tug on you without freezing from fear, or doubt, or uncertainty? Where is the point of reconciliation between it all—or is there even one? I don’t have any answers yet, only questions.
I'm in a much better place now (much of the toxic fog has lifted/I've been blessed with a job, and thank goodness for that), but damn if it doesn't hurt to get knocked off your feet, however mildly. What started as taking a semester off college has now turned into a two year break, and it’s scary. I’m frightened that I’ve lost my momentum, or that my plans will fall through again, or that I’ll never figure it out. I'm wildly grateful for the people who've stood by me through this season, who've gently reminded me that these fears belong to everyone at some point. Those beautiful people made me feel a little less alone, and it's because of them that I write this—in the hopes that I, in turn, can help someone else feel less alone. I suspect that I’m not the only one who feels a bit lost, who’s had a lot of false starts, who's tired of letting pride get in the way of being truly honest. Progress isn't made in our comfort zones, and I have a hunch that things can never get better without allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.