1. Life is more than a simple linear progression
We’re made to believe life is this Point A to Point B journey. You go to school. You grow up. You get the job. You meet the right person. You settle down with this person and job, start a family, and the cycle starts all over again. Yeah babe, that’s just how life works!! But…the truth is, life is a lot more complicated than that. Not everyone has the same end desire or goal — we don’t all want white picket fences and families. Or maybe we do, but we rarely factor in the setbacks or disappointments that come along too. We forget the sacrifices and/or bumps in the road. And those, while not always pleasant, are crucial to our development as human beings. Things don’t just go in a perfectly straight line. Sometimes we zig-zag all over the place. And you know what? That’s okay. That’s actually way more normal.
2. You aren’t supposed to stay the same
I’ve always found it strange when people utter the phrase: “you’ve changed” in a negative way. Well, sure. Of course! We are ALWAYS changing and evolving. What if the Earth just decided, “Nahhhhh, I’m good” and stopped spinning on its axis? Can you imagine? We’d all be screwed. So even if you aren’t who you thought you’d be, or perhaps feel some envy of your former self, that doesn’t mean what’s going on is wrong. You are who you are in this moment for a reason — whether it’s to learn about who you were and who you can be, it’s an important tool for self-reflection and assessment. Change often makes us uncomfortable, but that’s good. Being uncomfortable forces you to really look at things with a magnifying glass, even if you don’t want to.
3. You’re still here
And frankly, not everybody is. I think this should be celebrated more often. And listen, I’m speaking as someone who has openly struggled with depression and “living” hasn’t always been the easy route. But I’m here. And so are you. And for those who no longer are, I think we should remember to celebrate that.
4. You’ve got time to figure it out
Maybe you’re fresh out of college with the whole world at your fingertips (which can be overwhelming and scary, truuuust, I understand) or you’ve been alive numerous decades — there’s always time to figure it out. That doesn’t mean automatically landing that career you’ve fantasized about or stumbling upon a treasure chest that contains the key to eternal happiness. It just means every day you wake up, you’ve got an opportunity to find something that’s important to you. Something that gives you a purpose. Sometimes, the smallest things can bring us the most satisfaction.
5. The grass isn’t always greener
It’s beyond easy to slip into this damaging mentality that things would be better if only this happened. It’s natural to fantasize about how things could be if life were a little different. If you’d gone this direction instead of that. But what-ifs will haunt you. They stick around inside your throat and make everything else a lot harder to swallow. For every what-if that convinces you things would be better, remember you don’t ACTUALLY know. And you are here, now. So figure out how to make that the best instead of romanticizing different past choices. Because who knows? Maybe this current you is actually so much better off.
6. Someone out there looks up to you
Isn’t it weirdly funny? That even at our lowest, when we are drowning in self-pity and loathing, SOMEONE out there is looking at us and thinking, “Wow, they’re so cool.” I can practically hear some of you saying, “No, not me.” Yes. Yes. Even you, nonbeliever. Someone thinks you are so cool and envies you. You know, someone once told me we are guaranteed two things in life: Someone thinks you’re the best thing since sliced bread. And someone can’t stand you. So for every doubty-I-suck-everyone-is-better-than-me feeling you get, just remember, someone thinks you are the ACTUAL best thing ever.
7. You’re gaining empathy
Going through difficult times is important for a variety of reasons — a big one being it instills a sense of empathy and understanding in us. It’s not possible to ever fully understand another person’s plight, but when things don’t stack up the way you hoped, it can provide a little insight to how another person dealing with similar things might feel. The whole “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” is a beautiful concept, but hard to do unless you’ve, well, actually been in their shoes. Or at least shoes that look-alike. And once you have? A whole new world of compassion opens up. And that’s a pretty wonderful thing.