I was recently having a conversation with a dear friend. We were just talking about the ups and downs of our current lives, the things that were going well and the things that were not. After a moment, my friend paused. They looked troubled, as if there was something they wanted to say but were unsure of how to say, or if they should at all. I waited, trying to give them the space to decide, to choose their words. After a moment, it came out something like, “I don’t know. Lately? It feels like the downs keep coming. And I’m waiting for things to start going up again, and they just. Don’t.”
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." - Dalai LamaTweet It!
Do you understand this? I understand this. I can think of several phases of my life where everything just seemed to fall apart at once. Or at least it feels that way, when you’re living in that particular moment. The job falls through and the relationship dissolves and the sense of purpose fades. Someone swipes your drying clothes at the laundromat (oh, yes). You get rear-ended at a busy intersection. You feel lonely. You don’t have anyone to tell your loneliness to.
Many times it’s a bigger issue than the small things that go wrong in the day-to-day. And when I walked away from that conversation with that particular friend, I realized that I’d been hearing a similar message from a lot of people in my life. A lot of friends and acquaintances seemed to be going through very similar valleys at the same time. Life was beating them down. It was disappointing them. Nothing was really working out.
And when I walked away from that conversation with that particular friend, I realized that I’d been hearing a similar message from a lot of people in my life.Tweet It!
I sat with this thought for awhile. What could be happening to everyone at the same time that was making them feel so equally dissatisfied with the way things were going? Were we all just simultaneously realizing that life wasn’t what we expected? Were we being FOMO-ed to death by everyone’s Instagram stories? Are we all hitting the same rough patch just in time to turn away from rather than toward each other?
I am not a therapist or someone wise beyond my years. I am learning all the time and being proven wrong almost daily. But this is what I know: start with here. Start with now. You can’t fix everything at once and no one is asking you to. But know what you want. Really know. And change your mind when you need to. Do the work. Do some more. Nothing changes when we complain alone. Forgive yourself for not knowing better. Talk to someone.*** Find someone to lean on for a little while. Tell a friend. Be honest. We can't help each other through if we don't know what you're up against. Your problems are not too small. They are also not too big. Remember that your hardest days and your biggest heartbreaks are there for you. They are important. They are tragic and at times difficult beyond words, but they are there to teach you something bigger. They are there to show you that you can. They are there to redirect you to something better. They are there to give you the capacity to help someone else whose heart breaks the same way.
This is not a lesson in silver linings. This is not the tired (and unhelpful) reminder that “things could be worse.” But your struggle is not meaningless. Your hardship is not insignificant. This is not for nothing, even the moments when it takes everything we have to not ask, “Why me?”
But your struggle is not meaningless. Your hardship is not insignificant.Tweet It!
Why any of us, really? When you lose, someone else is winning. But someday soon it will be your time again. Sometime in the not so distant future, if you can just hang on and wait for it (and work for it), you’ll be floored by life’s goodness again. There’s space for all of us. Sometimes it just isn’t our turn.
Some days, it is so clear that life is difficult and painful and impossibly sad. Life can be brutal in ways for which we can’t ever be prepared. Most of the time we don't even consider this, we don’t look after our fragility, that any moment everything could end. I don't recommend thinking this way with any sort of regularity, if you can help it. But I do think the tiny reminder of life’s brevity, of its unforgiving swiftness, can keep us grateful, can keep us here, right now. The right now might be less than perfect. It might be missing something major. It might not be what you were expecting. So ask yourself, what should change? How can I carve a path where there isn’t one? How can I create room for happiness, for acceptance, for something better? Or, how can I learn to let go? How can I use this experience to learn or to help someone else?
Sometimes the answers aren't there. Sometimes all we can do is wait through it. So if you're waiting, I am waiting with you. If you’re holding on, hold tight.
***Please know that if you are struggling with a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, I am not now nor would I ever suggest that you merely wait it out. I am not a medical professional or in any way qualified to comment on the state of someone’s well being other than my own. If you would like to know more about seeking professional help for the above issues or any others, please go here.
Helen Williams is a Colorado transplant who is passionate about cooking, writing and combining the two on her vegetarian and vegan food blog, green girl eats. She strives, every day, to be less sorry. When she's not in the kitchen, you can find her reading, loving the community at Holstee or trying to pet your dog.
Love to write?
Every month we select a few writers to help us explore what it means to live more fully and mindfully. Reach out to Jennifer, our Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about contributing.
Welcome to Holstee
Our monthly membership helps conscious people (like you!) live a more meaningful life through actionable guide, inspiring art, thought-provoking content and a like-minded community.BECOME A MEMBER
This article is part of our series on the theme of Compassion.EXPLORE Compassion
Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.VIEW OUR THEMES