We've all been there — that moment where life is all, "We'd like to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming with bouts of uncertainty, unease, and crippling doubt". We're told during our tumultuous teenage years that all those morbidly hopeless feelings we have then are feelings that we'll grow out of, and to a degree, that's the truth — except those feelings are still there, manifesting in different ways. When you're older, the doubt is quieter, more pervasive, settled in your bones in a way that makes it that much harder to shake it off than it was when you were younger, and could leak out all your angst into your LiveJournal page and move on with your life.
The fact that this is all regular and normal and a fact of life is probably not that much of a comfort. Sure, everyone is oscillating between existential crises throughout their twenties and thirties, but when we're all consumed by the magnitude of our own, it's kind of like we have horse blinders on. Because of this it can feel like those moments of self-doubt aren't just moments, but eternities — and hell, sometimes you will be down on yourself for weeks. For months, even. Life wouldn't be life if it were easy to navigate right off the bat.
But when we're wrapped up in our problems, it's often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even when it's right in front of us, we're so busy looking down that we just plain stop searching for it. For anyone who needs a little encouragement, here are a few subtle signs that the winds are shifting, and you'll be back on the up and up soon:
You Have A Somewhat Clearer Idea Of What Fulfills You
There is never going to be an "aha!" moment where you discover what you were absolutely "destined" to do, and you enjoy is thoroughly for the rest of your life. What you should really strive for is satisfaction, and acknowledge that it will be punctuated by joy and disappointment. Once you start seeking out that common ground in your life — something that makes you content on a day-to-day basis, not just an every-so-often basis — you are that much closer to pointing yourself in the right direction, even if the end goal is ultimately still unclear.
You Find Yourself Reaching Out To Friends More Often
When we're down about ourselves, we get into these complexes without even realizing it, and either actively or unconsciously avoid our friends. We are embarrassed at the state of ourselves, even if we can't give a concrete reason why; we think we're somehow "unworthy" of our friendships, even when those friends are proving otherwise by seeking us out. But when you find yourself receptive to those friendships again, even in little ways — answering an overdue text, RSVPing to a birthday party, not ducking into the next aisle when you see someone at the grocery store. It's a little cloud that is lifting, even if you don't realize it quite yet.
You Can Acknowledge The Root Of Your Problems
All too often when we are upset about something we can't seem to find a resolution to, we try to manage it by finding something we can control. We unhealthily restrict ourselves in some aspect of our lives, form obsessions, or create unhealthy and unrealistic routines, trying to solve "problems" that really aren't problems, and won't make us feel any less existentially fraught. When you start to realize that these are Band-Aids on a broken bone, you get that much closer to opening yourself up to facing whatever the true issues in your life are, and finding out how to tackle them.
You Are Able To Acknowledge Your Own Progress
It's easy to say that you're a failure because you didn't accomplish a specific thing you set out to do — but that would be selling the whole depth of the rest of your experience unfairly short. The material things we accomplish aren't what make us better people, or more lovable, or more important to the people who care about us. What makes us grow aren't just what our experiences measure up to, but how we handled them, and what we learned from them. There isn't a second you're not growing in some way, and once you start to respect that about yourself, you're a little closer to being at peace with yourself than you were before.
You Give Yourself Reasons To Get Up In The Morning
Those first few seconds when you're waking up say more about the state of your life than any time of the day. Do you wake up and instantly dread the day — not just on an "I'm feeling lazy" way, but a genuine, unhappy way? Or do you look at the day's work ahead as a goal to accomplish? When you're dreading getting up in the morning, it's because you haven't given yourself fulfilling tasks in your day — or maybe because you have, and you aren't adequately recognizing and appreciating them. The people who are climbing out of that hole are the ones who can take steps to live purposefully, and are open to finding things that give their days meaning.
You Stop Shirking Away From Other People's Love
The same way you avoid your friends because you feel "unworthy" of their friendship, being in a funk makes you feel the same way about the people who unconditionally love you. You start telling yourself they only love you because they have to, or they wouldn't miss you if you up and moved somewhere else, or all sorts of self-destructive, unfounded thoughts that justify your unwillingness to accept their love. It is ultimately every bit as painful for them as it is for you, and once you start to break the pattern of hurting your loved ones in this way, you put yourself on a path to stop hurting yourself.
You Stop Trying To Define Yourself With Labels
We live in constant fear of people judging us or reducing us to one thing — a flaw, an ability, a failure — that we don't even realize when we do it to ourselves. And when you label yourself, you're also giving yourself no room for failure. You either are that thing, or you're not; it takes understanding that there is gray area between total failure and the ultimate end-all of your dreams, and that landing in the gray area actually opens you up to all kinds of opportunities that might have otherwise passed you by.
You Are Ultimately, On Your Deepest Level, Still Optimistic
No matter how hopeless everything seems, no matter how unfathomably low you feel that you have sunk, you are still hopeful for the future. You might not be able to say it out loud, or even admit it in the space of your own mind, but it's there. You feel it. You wouldn't be waiting for things to get better if you didn't know, deep in your heart, that they will.
You Aren't As Rigid About Your Idea Of What The Future Should Be
You open yourself up to change, and to the possibility that things aren't going to go the way you planned. You start to free yourself from the notion of putting your life on a schedule. This is the first essential step in understanding that there is a difference between setting an expectation for yourself and making a demand; that everything takes time, and just because it isn't happening now doesn't mean that it won't ever; that you are only self-sabotaging by beating yourself up over little things that ultimately are a waste of the precious time that you've got. Once you let go of your idea of what the future should be, you are open to all the glorious things it can be instead.
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