The thing about growing up is that you find yourself with all the pieces of a life that you’ve spent years collecting. You have that job you’ve been coveting. You have the apartment. You have the spouse. You have the wardrobe, the car, the good enough amount of money to take care of yourself and buy yourself things that you want. Your life looks like the kind of life that you’d have wanted when you were younger. In all matter of speaking, you have it “all.” You’ve done the work, you’ve achieved the things, you’ve checkmarked off the list of What It Looks Like To Be A Happy And Well-Adjusted Adult. You have it all.
The thing they don’t tell you about having it all is that you never really know why you wanted it in the first place. It’s like you’ve trained for the race and then once you’ve won it and you’re standing at the finish line, you’re like, wait, why did I do this? What was this all for? The thing about having it all is that we never know why we’re trying to have it all. We’ve never stopped to ask ourselves: why do we want to have it all? What will we be once we have it all? Are we guaranteed happiness? Are we supposed to feel a different way?
The thing about having it all is that, unfortunately, wherever you go there you are. You can have it all but still be the broken person that you were before you stepped into your dream job. You can have it all but still bring your insecurity and lack of self-worth right into your dream relationship. You can have it all and be surrounded by your abundance and the love you feel from others and the job you’ve always wanted and you can still feel sad and lonely and filled with self-doubt. That’s the part they don’t tell you. You can have it all, then think you’re supposed to be happy and then you won’t be happy all the time and it will be terrible. Because, the thing “they” implicitly, latently promise about having it all is that you will be happy. You will be fulfilled. You will, in all matter of the phrase, HAVE IT ALL.
But, what you won’t realize until you have it all is that none of those things are guaranteed. You are not guaranteed fulfillment if you have your dream job. You are not guaranteed self-love if someone else loves you. You are not guaranteed worthiness if your life looks like it’s worth something. That’s the part that rubs. That’s the part when disappointment seeps into your bones. That’s the part that makes you wake up with anxiety every day because if you’re not happy now while surrounded by everything you thought would make you happy, then what does that mean? How do you move forward if there’s nothing more to move toward?
People would advise you to find new goals! Try new things! Get a hobby! But, I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I wish it were. I wish this was a matter of setting a new goal or trying out a new hobby. But, this is a disappointment that has been building since we were young. It feels like a promise that was made to us that we are realizing was never going to be kept.
I never questioned what it meant to have it all. I just instinctively knew it was something I desired. Most of my life was spent in the lack of it all, so what I expected in the having it all was that all the feelings associated with that lack (inadequacy, insecurity, unhappiness) would suddenly float away into the abyss once I was able to collect the coveted pieces of a supposedly full life. I don’t know what it means now. I don’t know what I do next. I do know that this idea that there is a life out there that can be free of pain or suffering or unhappiness or self-doubt or anything that I have spent a lifetime avoiding, is simply an impossible ask. I know that sounds cynical or pessimistic, but I think it sounds freeing. I think it sounds like a life I can get my hands into. I think it sounds like the breaking point to the beginning of a breakdown, a breakdown that truly helps me to break down what it is I thought a full or happy life contained. I was sold an idea and now that I have done the work and achieved it all, I am cashing in on this sell and it’s not what I hoped it would be. To me, a breakdown is a fresh start. Because, in the essence of a breakdown, there is rubble, there is destruction, and where there are these things, there is a chance to rebuild. And, that, is a cleansing, freeing, wonderful place to start.