“The only way to have friends is to be one.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
A friend recently shared with me her concern that life had not turned out the way that she dreamed of. That got me thinking about where I planned to be at this point in my life. My anxiety kept me from talking to people, especially talking about my feelings and worries. It isolated me. There was nothing I could say to make it better so I felt that there was no point in me saying anything at all. Should I be worried that I’m now 20 without a clear path to my future? Should I know by now what I want to do in the next five years? Does anyone ever fulfill his or her childhood dreams? And if so, does it feel like enough? Are they carefree? I don’t know! But you know what? I am okay with the unknown. Someone’s got the answers, but I’d rather think there is nothing to be found. At this point in my life, I am on a journey to find out where I will end up. I am learning more about my friends, my family, my surroundings, and myself. I do not feel the pressure of knowing this instant, but rather allowing the progression of life to happen naturally with those around me. I am living in the middle of my young adult years, trying to find answers.
There is a nameless voice in my ear telling me that time is running out, deterring me from rejoicing in my accomplishments and pushing me past the moments of now, forcing me to think about fulfilling moments that have not happened yet. If we live life through the tunnel vision focused on the one goal we set for ourselves, we are going to miss enjoying the smaller things that help us get there. If we don’t get lost, we might miss out on adventures. If I spend the rest of my life questioning all of the things that I could have accomplished, then I’m going to look back with regret. The truth is I will never know all the answers to all my “what if” questions, but I want to know that I lived my life embracing moments spent lost on my path to the great unknown. I hope that even though we may not have fulfilled the dreams that we set when we were younger, we can still take that “failure,” mold it, and release it as a lesson learned, so there’s always something to build upon and study from. We have no idea what the future has in store for us but when we get there, it will be something glorious and worthy of rejoicing. It is a difficult thing to come to terms with, but I believe that we must one day let go of the past and stop living for the future. We will only end up disappointed at the things we have not done rather than proud of the things we have accomplished. At some point, we must stop chasing after the answer that we have constructed and start living in the midst of the questions that surround our lives. The bigger picture will be painted by all the times we have spent living in the moment. Let’s gather the different pieces around us rather than searching for the one piece that we believe defines us. Instead of looking for the next opportunity, we can take the moment we have, this present, in hand. It is the opportunity. We cannot change the past, but we can surely create a brighter future by living in the present. Please take a few minutes this week to think about who you are and where you are. Maybe you’ll realize that what you have been chasing has been right in front of you the whole time.
Maybe we just have to open our eyes and look. I have learned to live each day as it comes. I am thankful for every morning I wake up. I never know what tomorrow may bring, but I am only thinking about today. I don’t know if the battle is going to get tough again, but I know that I can make it through. One day at a time, every morning a new sunrise. I live every day with as much joy as my heart can hold, because I know that my life is a gift. I am alive for a reason. I have made it through this far, and I know I have a purpose. So today, I am asking: what is your passion? What gives you a reason to stand up? What does your puzzle piece look like? It can sometimes be difficult to find but there are other people on that kind of journey. Embrace your questions, share them with other people, and know that it is okay not to have the answers. In my experience, I have found the process of asking the questions and seeking the answers to actually be more powerful than the answers themselves.
Remember that life is better lived with those around us. Reality is the best place to live. Reality is where healing happens. In the honest light and by the voices of our friends. Together, we can start to unpack some of life’s questions. I have found through respectful conversation with others in which no one has a motive to change another’ s view can be a place where all can grow and begin to explore the questions as one. Today, I challenge you to do something to help someone else, something that is selfless. I have found in my journey that it is in some of these moments where I learn the most about myself. Try to find the passion that will drive you, energize you and make you feel alive. And if you’ve already found yours, maybe you can help someone else find his own. Every time you do something good for someone else, you are changing the world. You are helping someone. Carrying each other’ s burdens is a magical thing. If we all allow each other to carry a bit of our pain, although we may be bearing the same amount of “weight” as we would have just carrying our own stuff, it somehow seems like much less.
So, invite the people around you into whatever it is that you’re dealing with. Even if they can’t fix it, even if they can’t understand, the people we love can be there with us in the difficult moments, days and years, as anchors to remind us of who we are when we ourselves forget. I’m thankful for friends that carried it with me.