Thought Catalog
May 6, 2016

Dear Past Self: You Are Going To Feel A Kind Of Happiness That You Don’t Yet Know Exists

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stephenpaulphoto

Dear Past Self,

I get it – you’re lost right now.

And it feels like you will be lost forever – not because you’re aimless or purposeless or not ready to work hard to get to where you want to go in life – but because everything you want feels out of reach at this moment in time. I get it.

The life you want feels out of reach because it is.

The unfortunate thing about growing up is that nothing ever seems to go as planned. You meet your dream person and then they leave. You work your dream job and then you fail at it. You succeed with bells and whistles and you then fail – massively, exhaustively and completely. I can’t promise you that you’re going to be spared from any of these intensely painful events.

But here’s what I can promise you: Just as much as you’re going to a kind of pain that you can’t yet imagine, you’re also going to feel a kind of joy that you’ve never even thought to hope for.

You’ll work your dream job, but at a company that doesn’t exist yet. You’ll fall in love with your dream person, but you’re not going to meet them for years. You’ll travel to countries that will change your life forever but you don’t know those countries exist yet – and they won’t come onto your radar until a very long time from now.

Your life isn’t going to go as planned. And right now that seems scary and unpleasant and wrong but what I know (and what you currently don’t) is that everything you lose along the way is going to make way for a much greater gain.

You’re not going to get into the University program you wanted to get into – because you’re going to get into the program that changes your life. You’re not going to choose the profession you’ve been dreaming of since childhood – because you’re going to choose a profession that doesn’t exist yet. You’re not going to end up with that boy that you want to end up with – because you’re going to end up with somebody so much better.

The truth is, you’re not going to be happy in any of the ways in which you currently hope you’ll be happy. Because you’re going to be happy in better ways. Bigger ways. More fulfilling ways. Ways you couldn’t possibly fathom from where you’re standing now.

And so what I want you to know, through all of the struggle and confusion that experiencing now, is that you don’t have to try so damn hard to plan out every last detail of your future.

It’s not your job to control the storm. The storm is what moves you forward.

It’s what strengthens you. It’s what rips you away from the life you thought you wanted and plunks you right down in the center of the life that never thought to hope for.

At the end of the day, you don’t need pointed advice or words of wisdom from your future self. You don’t need to agonize over every fork in the road, every missed opportunity, every twist and turn that veers you off the course you’ve so carefully charted. At the end of the day, none of the decisions you make are going to determine your ultimate level of joy.

Because there’s going to be joy down every road.

There’s going to be joy and pain and struggle and redemption and happiness down absolutely any path you take.

There’s going to be joy so great that you can’t possibly imagine it from where you’re standing now.

So stop trying to imagine it. Stop trying to plan for it. Stop trying to prepare for a life that you can’t possibly predict the outcome of, no matter how hard you try.

And just get busy living it.

Because that’s the best that you will ever be able to do. TC mark

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