We Are Not Trained to Stand Still
When you’re thrust into adulthood, you expect that you’ll learn to cope immediately, like you always have. On the outside, it seems like no one else is struggling like you are. It’s like learning to walk a tightrope with no safety net, and some people make it look so easy.
But that’s not true, not by a long shot. We’re all struggling.
We think we’re ready, though we’re not. But we so desperately want to be ready. We fancy ourselves old souls trapped in young bodies. We’re wise but not experienced.
In your early 20s, you realize that you still have a lot to learn.
If 17 was one of my favorite years so far, 22 was its sorrowful counterpart. That year was a year of distance for me, distance between who I was and who I wanted to be. It was the year I moved 3,000 miles for love, leaving behind nearly every place and person I ever knew. I went into this year with a bachelor’s degree and no plan other than taking six months off from even thinking about what my next step should be.
Even though I needed that time, it was the year my life stood still.
In retrospect, I know things happened during that year. I know the world didn’t stop. But it sure felt like it did. Days blended together, weeks stretched out into months, and eventually the year came to an end.
I honestly thought 23 would bring relief, like a rainstorm after a drought. It didn’t. The early years have merged together in my mind. But it slowly got better. There wasn’t one downpour that washed away the doubt and struggle of those years; it was the mild showers and periods of growth that taught me to embrace the seasons of my life.
In your early 20s, you realize that it’s only temporary.
You only get to be 22 once. You only get to graduate from college with your bachelor’s degree and experience the tumble into adulthood once. I’ve heard the secret to adulthood is that we’re all just faking it. It’s kind of true. We are faking it, until all of a sudden we aren’t anymore.
When we’ve stopped faking it, that means a season of your life is over. You’re entering a new season, and soon, you’ll be faking it again. Rinse and repeat.
Somewhere during that year you’ll start to set goals. You start to get ideas. You say “yes” more often. You let people in and out of your life. You pay more attention to yourself. Follow your own interests. You make a few bad decisions, and you learn a few lessons. But then… you start making really good decisions. And it feels incredible.
And that’s when you remember, you were not trained to stand still.
The truth is, we’re fighters. And we always will be. We may have some wayward years. We might take a few detours, but in the end, not a single one of us can stay still for long. The desire to grow, to create, to improve, to feel passion, is deep within our souls. That’s what I love about people.
While I was struggling to close the distance between myself, what I found most helpful was to connect with other people. When you feel like you’re losing your ambition and who you are, it helps to get outside of yourself. Set some goals, even if they are infinitesimal (like getting dressed in the morning), and start working towards meeting them on a daily basis. Do something creative, whether it’s writing, painting, coloring — just do it. It’s okay to take time for yourself to just not worry about a damn thing.
We may be confused some of the time (okay — a lot of the time). Ultimately, that confusion means nothing, and it also means everything. Let yourself be still, even if just for a moment. And then do what you’re best at: move forward.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]