Sex & Life
Sex & Life July 26, 2017
You don't need to always have all the answers.
No matter what stage we’re at in life, we all struggle with understanding where we’ll be next. Whether you just graduated college or you’re in your mid-40s, that uncertainty never truly goes away.
The question “What am I doing with my life?” lingers in the back of your mind, waiting for the next moment to creep up on you.
We understand that these phases come and go. But if you’re currently stuck in this part of your life, we’re here to help you get through it.
We crave for freedom but only end up realizing that this “freedom” will eventually lead to a set of responsibilities and dilemmas we weren’t ready for. And then when you realize how unprepared you are, you look at your peers and start comparing yourself.
According to Wendy Lustbader M.S.W., affiliate associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work, our suffering intensifies when other people our age have firm, elaborate plans and don’t display any uncertainty about their plans.
However, she explains, “What no one tells us is the map they are following is sheer fabrication, something they devised in order to avoid the very emptiness that weighs on us so acutely.”
Everyone is faking it. They’re creating stories as they go and hoping they make sense. “Even those who emanate the most confidence have patched together a narrative from disparate pieces of experience, much of it found randomly and given the heft of purpose in retrospect,” she adds in her Psychology Today article.
Unfortunately, though, it’s not obvious. So we’re left feeling discouraged and trapped in the idea that we have to have the answers.
Instead of attempting to fix our lives, we sulk in our own misery. This propels us towards a feeling of “I’m a nobody who does nothing.”
Lustbader, however, preaches that our biggest downfall is this mindset. The best thing we can possibly do for ourselves is to act. She suggests that doing something – even if you don’t have a pre-determined plan – can be the push you need out of this stage of your life and into a life of curiosity.
The only way to truly answer the question of, “What am I doing with my life?” is to leave your house, put yourself out in the world and let chance have its way with you.
Lustbader explains that this pain is only temporary and you will eventually find your way. “To the lost, I say: ‘Welcome to the ground of your humanity,'” she adds.
According to clinical psychologist Eric S. Jannazzo, Ph.D., we’ve turned the pursuit of success into a system that guides our life choices. It is something that operates at a cognitive and emotional level, contains its own morality and demands particular rituals.
“The success the religion worships is not success as self-actualization, self-defined and self-adjudicated, but is instead success as determined by one’s perceived place in the social hierarchy of one’s given or chosen in-group,” Jannazzo writes on Psychology Today.
Success, to many people, has turned into a strict belief system we’ve inflicted upon ourselves. There is this pervasive idea that we have to be at a certain level in our lives, so we’re laboring over the culture of being busy and successful. Because of this, we are “laying our lives at the foot of [success’s] altar,” Jannazzo explains. And then, it creates anxiety when we don’t know if our efforts will be worth it.
Jannazzo explains that people are brought into therapy to work out this anxiety. He separates this anxiety into two forms: our basic human need for inclusion and the West’s creation of superiority.
Our need to feel included, to have social safety has driven our evolution. It makes us human. Our need for food, shelter, meaning and love is dependent on our perception of our self worth. It depends on whether we think we are are good enough of this love.
When it comes to fixing our lives, we have to come to the conclusion that we are deserving.
Jannazzo continues to explain that we must unlearn the distorted self-conceptions we’ve received from caretakers. By creating new perceptions of our self-worth, only then can we create self-nourishing choices that we can project onto our communities, work and loved ones.
Find a middle path where you enjoy who you are outside of everyone’s expectations of you.
“Perhaps, too, this middle path would instill an internal sense of sufficiency and the social status that is perhaps most nourishing: the deep regard given to the person who knows and values who she is,” Jannazzo adds.
The fear of not having a clear path in life is terrifying and depressing. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we must have all the answers, but this conditioning is also our downfall. The only way we can rise again is to know that sometimes it’s okay to just do your best.
Send this to a friend