“You could go right now, but I don’t think you’re ready,” he said. How insane for someone else to tell me that I’m not ready?
We all get into ruts that feel inappropriate sometimes. “I don’t belong here” you think, as you continue to live in a place that doesn’t suit your needs or your lifestyle or who you are as a person. It’s just too difficult or financially impossible or, weirdly, you’re just not ready.
After I got sick, I was in a weird rut like that. I needed art and good vibes and like-minded people to keep me afloat. I always have. I’m happiest this way. I missed the hippies and the weirdos and the potential to be something greater than myself. I just couldn’t find that at my parents house. No one like that existed there. There was nothing for me.
Despite that, I couldn’t leave. It seemed like I was perpetually preparing for something, some kind of mission, even though I did not yet know what that was. I subconsciously may have had an idea. I even mentioned the idea a few times as it popped into my mind, but I was too afraid to pursue it. It was too much. I was too afraid.
Sometimes we might not be in a good place for us to thrive, but it’s where we need to be anyway. A friend of mine even mentioned it: “I don’t think you’re ready,” he said to me over the phone as we were discussing the option of me staying with him in Portland as I recovered and figured my life out. I felt like a deer in the headlights. I said it just isn’t possible right now and then he gave me ten reasons for why it definitely was possible.
I think one of my biggest crutches about heading back into the unknown was realizing just how much my student debt was holding me back. I hadn’t thought much of it until I got sick and realized that no matter what, I need to pay off those damn loans every month. This is when I took a serious look at my finances and realized I needed to do so much more to take back control of my life. This started with learning how to properly pay off my loans.
Then, I had to really hunker down and budget. I remembered first moving to Los Angeles with only about $3,500 in my pocket. I didn’t think about my loans. I didn’t think about how long I could survive with that money without finding employment. I didn’t expect my pet bird to get really ill and have any money I had saved up go entirely to her medical bills, which were in the thousands. I had gone broke on $3,500. It took me 6 months to really get regular work and after that, I knew I didn’t want to be in that situation again. I didn’t want to live with roommates who would kick me out of the house for getting sick. Everything in my mind focused on post-traumatic stress. What if this happens again? I need to protect myself.
I came up with a figure: $6,000, or maybe more. No, that’s not enough. Maybe I need to get a full-time job elsewhere first. I figured now that I had more experience, it must be easier for me to find a full-time, salary job with benefits that I could rely on. Nope, I was wrong about that too. Even jobs I was incredibly overqualified for, or even ones that seemed to fit me perfectly never responded with so much as a rejection letter. Meanwhile, as usual, people were trying to take advantage of me for my skills and paying me very little for them. Nothing seemed to make sense and the entire world seemed unfair. I was still stuck and confused and unable to mentally prepare myself to do anything positive with my life.
So that’s when I threw out or donated (or set on fire) 90% of my stuff and took up a more minimalistic lifestyle. According to Marie Kondo, in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND, following her tips on de-cluttering would change my life and open up my mind to change. Not only did this book definitely change my life and the way I think about material things, but it helped my mental health so much.
When my space was messy, thoughts about cleaning were always there. It was a constant stressor. I just had too much stuff to even begin to clean. It would always be messy. There was just so much stuff accumulated over the years, none of it worth my time or any money, so I thought. I donated the majority of my clothing to a free store for women in Albany, near where my parents lived. If I was so good at decluttering each time I moved to a new house, why couldn’t I do that with all my stuff leftover from when I was a kid? Random art projects, bad books, clothing that I hadn’t worn in literally a decade had just piled up all over the place. I had bulky furniture that took up so much space it was basically a storage room.
That’s where Marie Kondo came in. That book taught me how to deal with all of that crap. It taught me how to move on from my past and realize that it’s okay to throw stuff away. It’s no longer necessary.
Despite clearing that up, I was not ready to make any major life changes. I was still stuck and now without a task to take my anger out on. I had repainted my entire closet. There was nothing else to do. I thought of design ideas. They weren’t enough. Whatever. It just wasn’t time.
But I had changed. I was changing, very slowly, into a more responsible, courageous person. I was changing into my true adult self. The discomfort and monotony of everyday life post-sickness was allowing me to lift myself up and begin anew. It was going to be okay.
I was also still preparing, for something. What is it? I can’t tell you guys yet, but it’s really exciting and I will definitely be blogging about it. It’s almost time to pursue that something and it will definitely be fulfilling and amazing and hopefully pleasant. After a certain point, you can’t live your life in fear. You have to move on and break free.
Every piece of your life, no matter how boring or pointless it seems, prepares you for something bigger. It prepares you for the next step. It makes you stronger. It’s important. You’re never wasting your life. You’re never in the wrong place at the wrong time. Life is not all sunshine and roses. Maybe some people have shittier experiences and deeper lows than others (*cough* me *cough*), but those only allow them to rise higher and do more in this world than those who have it easier. If you notice anyone truly great, they have usually endured so much diversity it would make your skin crawl to think about it.
In a state of desperate confusion, I made a graph of my life experiences, both negative and positive – the ebbs and flows of what has been my life, including all major events in my childhood that started me off in a very negative place, and I noticed it looks like a rollercoaster.
The lower ebbs make way for higher flows and I had previously just considered most of them to be super low lows, but after making this graph, I realized that just about everyone’s life is like this. Maybe their lows are different than mine (death of a loved one, diagnosed with a chronic illness, divorce, etc), but they are lows nonetheless and we learn from each one in order to create a better future for ourselves.
I don’t know. This made me feel better. I highly suggest you try making a graph of your lifelong quality of life as well. It was super eye-opening for me.
ANYWAY, maybe it’s not up to us. Maybe we don’t decide when we reach the next chapter. Maybe we are forced to encounter long periods or years of boredom and feeling like we don’t belong and maybe that’s a good thing. Life is not an end goal. It’s not a means to eventual perfect happiness with a perfect partner and perfect children and lots of money and white picket fences. It’s a journey in discovery, self-improvement, and self-sacrifice. Listen to the world around you. Learn and love fully. Don’t worry about what’s next because when you are ready, you’ll already be there.
Photo credit: haleyincarnate
On Happiness and Letting Go | Heather Ann
Letting Go | Helen Hayward <– I really love this one.
Moving Us Along | Paths of the Spirit
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