It’s okay to not be okay.
Every drama of human perseverance and achievement starts with some poor person, full of passion and talent, with no outlet, scraping by at a an unfulfilling job.
Small apartment, maybe eating cereal straight out of the box for dinner – handful after handful – leaning on the kitchen counter staring into empty space above their cheap linoleum floor, wondering what they’re going to do – they’re not okay. They’re unfulfilled, underutilized, unhappy – an underdog.
Your current situation does not reflect the depth of your talent, passion or character – and that’s not your fault. You do not reflect your situation, your job, your housing. You are you. But that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating, that doesn’t mean you won’t doubt yourself.
I do know hard work goes a long way when you’re in a rut, a funk, a low spot, on that last ledge before rock bottom. But I also know that you can become your own worst enemy if you work hard enough at it.
Knowing that you’re capable of more than you’re currently doing can quickly turn into manic, wasted efforts to do it now or paralyzing doubt that you’ll be able to later. A desire to do great things one day can turn into disappointment that those things aren’t being done now.
Impatience and pressure can send you flailing against your situation, wasting energy sending out stacks of resumes to jobs you don’t really want instead of waiting for something that truly grabs you. You become a caged bird flapping madly at a closed door where it will do no good.
Lack of opportunity can feel like your own inability to change your situation and inspires self doubt, hopelessness, and depression. When we need something to change so badly, it can become paralyzing to try to enact that change for fear of failure. This caged bird is so scared it won’t even look at the door so it can avoid ever having to recognize that it is closed.
There are a ton of ways to make a bad situation worse by getting in your own way. Sometimes you’ll feel like your own worst enemy, like the only thing holding you back is you, that you’re somehow broken and will never be able to get off your own back.
Think of it this way: If you have gotten this good at being a roadblock for yourself, how good could you be at something else? If you’re the best person in the world at getting in your own way, think what you could do if you directed all that effort at being the best dancer, political volunteer, sidewalk chalk artist, repair technician, stylist, youtube celeb, charity haunted house coordinator…
If you’re frustrated that you’re not doing more, it’s because you know you can. Keep that belief alive by reminding yourself that you can work at and excel at something, even if it seems trivial. Remember that if you can master juggling while you’re “just a fry cook”, you may be able to juggle multiple cases as an environmental lawyer one day.
Stay strong and realize just how much energy and direction and dedication you have in you, even if it’s not going toward something you dreamed of doing.
Life may have you in a bit of a cage, but find something you can work at there to keep your wings fresh. Life has a way of opening doors at unexpected times, and those who are flailing or avoiding may miss it.
You’re not okay. That’s great.
If you’re not living to your full potential and that bothers you… that’s a great prognosis for your future. A springboard has to depress before it can launch, and the further it depresses the bigger the force it comes back with.
Once you find something you love, an opportunity to do what you love, or an opportunity to do something new that you end up loving, how great is that going to feel when you look back to all those nights alone in your subpar apartment eating cereal out of the box, leaning on your counter and wondering what you’re going to do. What are you going to do?
I love you – you have a lot in you. Your current situation does not reflect the depth of your talent, passion or character – and it’s not your fault. Finding somewhere to direct all your energy is very hard, but I believe you will. Breathe, let life flow, and you will come to a place that does reflect you. When you get there it will mean so much more than anything handed to you or shown to you.