One day, someone will come to you for help. It may be your best friend or a lover, an old acquaintance or a crush, a colleague or that one line manager you just can’t help but care about. And when that happens, you’ll need to do something to make them smile.
Me, well… I’ve decided to write. And if you’re reading this, I hope it gives you all the strength you need.
Feeling lost — and finding the way
It’s easy to feel lost and lonely, when everything else is going to shit.
We’ve all struggled to wade through a dark time in life. Some have lost a job, a friend, a partner, even a marriage. Others may just feel trapped in whatever life they’re stuck in, crushed by the constricting walls of their existence.
All of a sudden, you just want to leave. You want to leave the town or job you can’t stand anymore, you want to believe there’s something better out there, waiting for you to catch it and make it count.
I have been through dark times in life. I’ve lost friends and partners I thought I couldn’t live without, and, every time I feel close to losing another important piece of my life, I chicken out and make a bunch of serious mistakes. I’m human, just like you. I will never forgive myself for all the errors I made — but I’ve decided to live with them. I’ve decided to learn from the past.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve lost. It doesn’t matter how much it hurts, nor if it will keep hurting for the next seventeen years. Or, rather, it does — sometimes, to shed one tear at the right time can bring relief to any illness. But your life still goes on, with or without that person, in or out of that trap you can’t seem to escape. You can’t live in the past; all you can do is open yourself to the future. And that little bastard usually starts today.
Maybe “you don’t really love your job.” Maybe you feel like there’s more for you out there, wherever “out there” means — out of a retail store, out of your hometown, out of your country. Maybe, like the girl who inspired this article, you’re just recovering from a bad heartache and you feel like you need to find some new meaning to your life.
And even when you’ve taken enough time to factor in all of those ‘maybes,’ you’ve probably still forgotten about the most important thing: that it’s just a transitory phase. That you don’t need to be sad, or angry, or discouraged forever. Matter of fact, you probably won’t. Even with all that’s happened to you, you’re still you. And there’s no way that one simple thing is going to change.
Risk, endure, succeed
But here’s the good news, dear you: if you’re feeling this way, it means you’re ambitious. It means you’re looking for something outside of your comfort zone, something that may lead you to some personal or professional fulfilment. Sometimes to a mix of both.
If you’re not happy with your job, you can change it. Perhaps you have some money to let you feel safe while you’re trying to, perhaps you have other resources to put your pieces together into a new life. And if you’re not happy with your overall life, you can change that too — granted, it will take quite some time, but it can be done.
I did it. And I’m sure you did too, at some point.
The worst thing you can do, to yourself and the ones you love, is give up. I’ve felt trapped within the four walls of my family house before, and I chose to move abroad. I’ve felt unsatisfied with my life too, which led me to develop new skills and explore new horizons.
Embrace that ambition. Take a risk, free-dive into an emotion, follow your heart and gut instincts. Chances are you have way more in you than you thought you had.
Yes, but how?
Let me give you a few examples. If you’re in retail, whether as a manager or a common shop assistant, you have at least a good set of customer service skills. You may have brand awareness, organisation skills, adaptability and flexibility. You may have a whole lot of other capabilities you weren’t even aware of, because you’ve been constantly looking the wrong way. Which is probably towards numbers, stock and boards.
If you have a lot of hobbies, it means you have a lot of interests too. That makes you an interesting person. It’s easier when you have one talent, but the Internet is so full of resources it would be unacceptable to give up because of a lack of talent. Who decides what talent is but yourself, anyway? If you like coding, writing, reading, watching films, playing games, cooking, eating, playing sports, playing an instrument or singing, do more of that. Maybe not all of those things will turn into a profession, but at least you’ll feel good trying.
If you’ve been through a hard time, dedicate more time to yourself. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to isolate — so long as you spend that time doing the things you love. Because sometimes you just need to pull the plug for a while, to disconnect from this globalised world and take a fucking break from all the bad crap happening around you.
There’s no magic formula to happiness and well-being — but there is one golden rule: listen to yourself. Listen to what your body, mind, heart and guts are telling you, and try to understand why. If you’re feeling unease, there’s likely to be a bigger problem underneath. Uncover that problem, kick it in the balls and turn it into a solution. And if you prefer a more gender neutral version, you can always go for a kick in the butt. The result will be the same.
Easier said than done, I know. I know. But that’s what taking risks is for. They give you the energy to dare, to do the unexpected, to (forgive the storytelling jargon) look for that basic conflict in your life and drive whatever change you need.
And then, that change comes at last. You don’t feel trapped anymore, you don’t feel sad, depressed or discouraged. Just a general sense of fulfilment. And you’ll be happy to have listened to your gut instincts, on that gloomy day in the darkest time of your life.
And if the person who inspired this article will ever end up reading it, cheer up. There will always be some light waiting for you at the end of the tunnel. Whenever in doubt, remind yourself it is just a phase, that you deserve better than what you’re sticking with, and that nothing lasts forever. Not even the darkest time of your life.
But you need to take that risk, first. You owe it to yourself.