Something we fail to realize until it’s often too late is that plans are not guaranteed outcomes. They are possible results.
We often grow up assuming that life will go according to our plans and that one day everything will fall into place by the sheer virtue of time. We go through life, we stumble, we hesitate, we fail, we make new plans. We struggle so much that we assume this means we are going to win one day. It does not.
For most of my life, I thought I was going to climb the corporate ladder one day. So I studied, kept my grades up, and joined University, only to realize that everything I thought I wanted meant nothing to me.
No one wants to face the fact that they might have been wasting years of their life and a substantial amount of money chasing a dream that never belonged to them in the first place. Most importantly, no one wants to let go of the only way they imagined their future to be.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary. But to me, the fear of being stuck somewhere I didn’t belong was far worse than the fear of not knowing what’s next.
Real change only happens in uncertainty
Life doesn’t go according to plans. Not everybody becomes the person they are meant to be. Not everyone wins. This is because not everyone wants to deal with feeling lost in life.
We are, by nature, comfort-seeking animals. We are in constant pursuit of the familiar, the known, and the simplistic. We seek security over purpose and comfort over happiness.
We have a lot of addictions in life, and the majority of them are so mild we don’t even recognize them as addictions. We are mildly addicted to our phone, our laptop, our relationship, our routines, our sense of self.
Mild addictions are the most dangerous because you run the risk of never becoming aware of them. They feel unharmful, comforting, good even, so you continue to play the reinforcement loop in your head that makes you compelled to act on them and the cycle never ends. Until these reinforcement loops start breaking, you never wake up.
When you choose to stay where you are, to play small, to never begin, to never leap, you are choosing out of fear of feeling lost. You are trading the fear of uncertainty for the fear of staying the same.
You tell yourself that things will change, that you will change, but you don’t realize that change never happens in the future, it always starts in the present. And more often than not, it starts when it’s the only option left.
Often, we decide to change, to rise, to move forward, not because we want to but because we are forced to. Often, it takes our comfort zone to collapse, our certainties to break, our shells to crumble for us to realize that it’s time to act on our mild addictions and level up.
This is why you are supposed to feel lost in life. Because if you never feel that way, you may never commit to change, you may never grow, and you may never become the person you’ve always intended to be.
It is what we lose that allows us to find ourselves
If I stayed in the wrong University; if I followed the path someone else built for me; if I never moved out of my small town; if I never traded my security for the possibility of self-actualization; if I didn’t leave the well-paved road for the steep alley, I would have never fulfilled my life purpose.
The truth is that we all have fears, we all have doubts, we all have experiences we wish we never went through and people we wish we never met. It’s something we will never be free from. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is letting those emotions dictate how you are going to live your life.
If the only reason you are avoiding change is that you are scared of what will happen, if you are staying the same and keeping a low profile because of the fear of uncertainty, then it is possible that you get to the very end of this thing and realize that you spent your days feeling apathetic, unexcited, smoldering resentments and fears.
Even worse, you may realize that you never got to know yourself, because the only way you get to know someone is when they are facing difficulty. In other words, if you never feel lost, if you never reach your breaking point, which is the ground zero on which most of life really begins, you can’t say you have lived at all.
Often, it’s what we lose that allows us to get in touch with our most vulnerable self. It’s when we face uncertainty that we are forced to forge a new path for ourselves. It’s always discomfort that opens a new field of potential for us.
What you need to know
By nature, we reject uncertainty and seek comfort. When we choose to stay where we are, to play small, to never begin, to never leap, we are choosing out of fear of feeling lost.
But in trying to avoid uncertainty, we become a shell of the person we were meant to be. In being willing — or forced — to experience it, we become exactly who we had always intended. We become more than we were and everything we possibly could be.