Right now life feels particularly unstable. Long time readers know that I endured a decent amount of turbulence this year, and to the best of my ability, I used it as an invitation to build a better life.
As I write, I’m raising capital for my next business1 and exploring a new relationship. I’ve also started curating my personal and professional circles with more intention.
While it’s easy to look from the outside and think, “Damn, what an exciting time for Jason!” I assure you it doesn’t feel that way.
It feels more like, “Fuck. What in the world am I doing? I’m going to blow all my savings and social capital on this new business which will probably fail, and the icing on the cake? I’m liable to get my heart ripped out of my chest along the way. I have no idea how I got here or what I’m doing, but I think I’ve fallen behind. Worse still, I can’t tell if I’m moving forward, backwards, or if I’m just on a hamster wheel. Maybe I should move to Nova Scotia and work on a fishing boat or something. How am I like this at 32? I thought I’d have my shit together by now.”
Yeah. That’s about right.
In moments like this, where I feel overwhelmed, my mind drifts to my friend’s lives. They all seem so put together, happy, successful, and better equipped to deal with life than I am. I wonder what it would be like to trade lives.
Of course, feeling that other people’s lives are free from the pain and chaos of existence is nothing more than a fickle illusion. Like it or not, suffering and strife are components of the human condition. When you pay attention, it becomes obvious that we all deal with heartache, frustrations about work and money, and a generic sort of blah and boredom from time to time.
But there’s something subtle at play here, too. This particular sense of being lost at sea comes along with living more vividly and courageously than most people dare. It’s a sort of existential tax on the bold. It would be possible for all of us to settle for something less – and maybe one day we will – but today’s not that day.
Along the way, we have to accept a hidden part of the human experience – one that’s a bit easier to drown out than discuss. Specifically: sometimes life just sorta sucks. More than that, sometimes it’s really fucking hard to be a human.
And I’m not just referring to the obviously difficult things like death, disappointment, the current political climate, illness, and deceit.
I’m talking about the things that more easily blend into the day, like:
- Never quite being able to stick to a budget (or diet, exercise routine, or sleep schedule)
- Needing to deal with people you’d rather not
- Spending time every single day doing the dishes (is it just me, or does it feel like life is defined by doing the dishes?)
- Wrestling with the mind-numbing bullshit of spending more time at work than with your friends, family, and lover combined
- Accepting that the people who love you the most will accidentally hurt you every now and then (and that you’ll accidentally hurt them, too)
- Perpetually feeling tossed between abundance and scarcity, confidence and insecurity, connection and abandonment, getting it together and falling apart, etc.
- And a quiet, unidentifiable longing for something more
For the most part we just skate over these nuisances. Heck, there are huge chunks of life where we barely notice any of them (except for the dishes – I hate the dishes).
But every now and then, we get hit with the perfect storm and start to get weighed down. It’s a passing phase, of course, but it feels chaotic and endless to get through.
When this happens, it’s tempting to fight against it, or attempt the emotional jiu-jitsu of searching for shards of beauty amidst the chaos. Neither has ever worked for me. Instead, I think it’s best to just accept what’s happening, lean on your friends, throw on your favorite record2 and remind yourself that this too shall pass.
I know that marketing, personal development, and your nauseatingly positive friend, Jeff, all make it seem like there’s something wrong with you if you aren’t happy 24/7. But I don’t buy it.
I don’t think it’s human to be happy all the time. People who claim they are probably don’t understand the concept. I think it’s human to be lazy, joyful, confused, messy, charming, gross, ambitious, generous, capable, bored, happy, awkward, smooth, fulfilled and a million other discordant things – sometimes all in a day.
The important part is to try to live close enough to your potential,3 while accepting that you’ll still have to deal with the suckiness of it all.
So know this: it’s ok to not be ok every now and then. In fact, it’s perfectly normal
And if you’re starting to get buried by it all, reach out to a friend or professional. Because one thing I know: we don’t get through this on our own. We’re designed to lean on one another. While it doesn’t make the ennui go away exactly, it does defang it a bit. And if things are going great for you right now, call one of your friends to check in and see how she’s doing.
- It’s in the mental health sphere – more details to come :)
- Lately I’ve been listening to “Beast of Burden” by the Stones non-stop.
- And to be clear, if you’re anything like me, sometimes living up to your potential may mean spending the day watching Game of Thrones, eating chocolate cake, and skipping yoga. As long as you don’t overdo it, that’s perfectly fine.