I’m twenty-six. I’m about to get married. I have a small dog and a small cat. I have naturally arched eyebrows and a huge overbite. I have just chosen to leave my job and I have yet to find a new one. And I wonder, can I have it “all?” All. All of it. Everyone’s “all” is vastly different of course, but my “all” is a perfectly balanced existence in which both career and family sit happily on an even plane. I win all the awards. I have all the friends. My marriage will never function on eggshells or what’s unsaid. I am happy. I am beautiful. My metabolism kicks fucking ass.
Typically when one approaches a major life event, it is not uncommon to question the future. To try to tackle a puzzle that you don’t have all the pieces to yet. It is impossible to know what you will or will not have. So why do we try so hard? Why do we spend hours sketching out our ideas of what our lives should be? Because we’ve been programmed this way. We’ve been taught to create our own destinies. We’ve been taught that we have a sky full of stars, of possibilities that we can master and mold into our own constellation.
Do I believe we have a hand in our futures? Absolutely. Do I believe we can craft a life in which we feel whole and satisfied? You bet. Yet I also think we latch on too fiercely to this pressure of having it “all.” So, how do we relieve this weight? I’m not sure I have the precise answers; what I do have, however, are tips. I have affirmations. I have struggles. I have clues from the universe that perhaps I’m not taking advantage of just yet.
Here are five things that continue to help me muddle through. They help me carve my own path, they help me in my quest to accept the unknown and, above all else, help me get this “YOU MUST HAVE IT ALL” monkey off my damn back.
1. Remember that you are brave.
You make brave choices — fearless choices — and you probably don’t even realize you’re making them. When I recently gave notice at my job, and subsequently began informing my friends and family, I was met with the same response: “Congratulations!” I was being showered with emphatic congratulations for quitting. At first, I thought, what a strange response. I’m about to be unemployed. I will lose my health insurance. I will be terrified. However, the more praise I received for choosing to leave my post, the more I began to agree with my little fan club. I mean, yeah! Yeah, congratulations to me! I made a bold move. I was unhappy with my circumstances, and instead of waiting for someone else to offer me a plate of professional goodness, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Do I know what kind of future awaits me? What day job or career could possibly land in my lap? Of course not. However, I do know that by being a little courageous, I have opened myself up to a greater adventure and a greater unknown destiny. Cheers to that.
I recently reintroduced therapy into my life, and can I just say, I fucking missed that bitch. Therapy is so, so wonderful. Not only is it a safe space to say whatever you damn well please, but it also gives you the opportunity to tap into how you are really feeling. If you’re lucky like me, you have an exceptional therapist who can help you untangle your mental knots, and reaffirm that you are doing just fine. That your journey is yours. Some things we’ll never be able to change; they’re entirely out of our control. However we can change how we react to these things. We can change our behavior, our focus, and our expectations. I am grateful to have therapy as a tool in my arsenal as I try, with great ambition, to move forward in life.
3. Don’t bother comparing yourself to others.
Run your own race. It will do you no good to privately compete with all the humble braggers littering your newsfeed. Also, heads-up, you’re a humble bragger too. It is natural to look at what others have, and wonder, why don’t I have that? Well, you just don’t. By the way, do you want that? Do you really? Or do you just think you should want that? Instead of focusing on others, focus on yourself and your goals. If you’re that caught up in what other people are accomplishing, chances are you are unhappy — to at least some degree — with your own trajectory. Not because you too want a condo in Aspen or a promotion at Goldman Sachs, but because you want to feel you are worth something in your world. Well guess what? You are. You are worth a lot, but if you are not where you want to be yet, then brainstorm the shit outta how to get there. That alone will distract you from the other people (who, by the way, do not have it “all” either).
4. Be grateful for what you do have.
You may not have everything, but you do have a lot of things. And good things too. Good things that make you feel good when you actually pay attention to them. So pay attention! I have an incredible, honest, generous man. I have a talent for writing, for acting, and for critical thinking. I have two delightful furry children. I have a stunning collection of diverse and irreplaceable friends. I have the best family conceivable to me. Okay, now you do what I just did. Acknowledge your good things. Repeat them again. And again. How are you not smiling?! See! Don’t you feel fucking fantastic when you take a beat to consider all the goodness you have in fact been gifted? Am I right or am I right? Dig it.
5. Redefine your “all.”
You won’t meet every goal. You won’t avoid failure. You will sacrifice. You will have limits. And that’s okay. That’s part of life. No one has it “all.” Everyone has to adjust his or her expectations. However, that does not mean everyone settles. As you continue through life, you’ll find that what fulfills you changes. Your desires, ambitions, and needs will transform, and inevitably, you will end up exactly as you should with everything you truly want. So let’s maybe try to surrender to that — this greater plan we have some, but very little, control over. Let’s just, y’know, follow our hearts, trust our instincts, and cut ourselves some fucking slack. Perhaps by doing that, we’ll start to feel like we DO have it “all.” So let’s give it a try. Deal? Deal.