“You can’t change everything over night. Change starts with teeny, tiny turtle steps.”– Julia Turner, Talentedly Career Coach and Meditation Expert
EVEN NOW, YOU ARE NOT LOST
“I feel lost.” We know this all too well. We’ve heard it during virtual happy hours, from our best friend, from the Instagram post that just popped up on our feed. What do we really mean when we say we feel “lost”? The truth is we are no more or less lost than we were pre-pandemic. In fact, we know exactly where you are – most likely in your apartment or house or if you’re an essential worker, at work. We hate to break it to you, but you’re not lost. You are the same person you were 5 weeks ago. The difference is that perhaps you’re finally coming to terms with who you really are (or aren’t), and let’s face it, that can be scary. This could very well be the most time you’ve spent with yourself in your entire life. When you spend all day looking at yourself, you can come to find if you like the person looking back.
If you’re someone who has defined their entire life by their career which has in some way been altered or has even disappeared, it can be second nature to feel a bit lost, a bit unsure. We have this preconceived idea of where we should be and at what point we should be there – when we should have our dream jobs or financial stability or a marriage or kids. We have it all mapped out, and when we go off route, we panic. When we play the comparison game, we feel inadequate, unfit, and out of place. Karen North, Ph.D., a clinical professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, tells Success Magazine, “Successful people really need to compare upward at least part of the time. They need to find their relevant peer group and say, ‘I’m better than two-thirds of my relevant peer group, but let me take a look at the one-third and see what they’re doing that’s better.’” When we’re feeling out of place, we’re focusing all of our energy on not being that one-third. We spend all day seeing perfectly curated feeds of people our same age going on Instagram Live in fancier houses, cooking meals fit for only the gods, and creating their dream bodies while in quarantine. Meanwhile, we’re eating brownie batter by the spoonful and binging Netflix till 3 PM. Newsflash: you’re still not lost.
We try to find societal norms that we can identify with so that we fit somewhere – politically, economically, socially, and culturally. As creatures of habit, we find patterns that make sense to us and when parts of us don’t fully fit into a predetermined category, we write it off as being “lost”. The truth is that you’re right where you’ve always been. You don’t need to be found. You need to take the pressure off and trust the process. Trust that this will all be over soon, and down the road, there will be a new stressor. Stop rushing the best parts of your life and missing out on where you’re supposed to be in this moment.
THREE WAYS TO PROVE TO YOURSELF YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY LOST
- Write a list of everything you have accomplished at work in the last week. Congratulate yourself on those accomplishments – big or small. Now go for the last month. Now try the last year. Think back to where you were a year ago. How different is this year from the last? How much growth have you seen? Acknowledge your progress and all the things you’ve done while feeling “lost”. You can do the same thing with your personal life.
- Try something totally out of your comfort zone this week. Try something different the following week. Carry on until you find a new passion or hobby. It can be as simple as learning how to cook a new meal or as complicated as planning a trip to another country for when this is all over. Get creative.
- Be deliberate about how you spend your day. Enjoy the small moments. Blast your Spotify and sing along. Have a tiny dance party in your living room. Be patient with the coworker that drives you up a wall. Laugh off what you can’t change. Enjoy the day as if it were your last on earth. Finish each day by writing down five things you’re grateful for and watch the way you feel about your life change.
As all things in life do, this time will one day be a distant memory for you, a blip on the map. You will come out of this having grown in new ways, even if all you did some days was wake up and force yourself to make breakfast before watching the entirety of Tiger King. We’ve had those days too. Don’t beat yourself up for not being where you thought you would be, especially in this time. We’ll all get where we’re supposed to be going eventually. What’s the rush? It’s only life after all.