A few days ago, my daughter was listening to music. Passing by her room, I stopped dead in my tracks at the sound of some comforting lyrics by Jessie J (someone I’d never heard of before). The profound phrase that wafted through the crack in the door was surprising in its simplicity: It’s ok not to be ok.
Let’s all let that sink in for a minute. Haven’t we all been in positions where we’ve felt that we’re losing ground, that life isn’t quite working out the way we planned, or that we’re completely lost? I’ll be the first to step up and admit it. I most definitely have been there, more than once. Just last year, for example, I was very busy dealing with monumental changes – career, personal and financial. It was upheaval times ten. At its worst, the experience was debilitating; at its best, an excruciating string of anxiety-ridden experiences that left me feeling defenseless and panicked.
Periods of uncertainty make us feel vulnerable, so a common reaction is to scramble to “fix” a life or situation that feels like it’s run amok. Like a person sinking in quicksand, we’re often so desperate to hold our ground, to be “ok,” that we struggle against the trap instead of remaining calm and considering what the best plan of action would be. Decisions made out of desperation, though, are usually the wrong decisions. They end up being frantic reactions that plunge us deeper into the mire or quick fixes that only preserve the status quo, never really providing us with any growth.
Yes, you heard me right. I said “growth.” Rather than just holding ground, I think we can grow from these experiences. Brené Brown, PhD, says, “It really is possible to thrive amid uncertainty… It’s about faith and self-trust – believing that whatever happens, you’ll find a way through it.” I realize optimism and faith during times of change can be tough to muster; there are no guarantees when we chart new territory, and fixing a broken life or situations within it can be daunting. Let’s face it, limbo doesn’t feel good. But when life throws you a curve ball and it feels awful, it might help to remember that it’s supposed to feel that way. It’s that very discomfort that is often the impetus for new thinking, experiences and directions in life. Life, ultimately, is far more rewarding when we grow, and if nothing ever changed, things would always stay the same.
photo credit: 180turn.wordpress.com
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live… into the answer.”