1. Sometimes the thing you keep trying to fix about yourself isn’t meant to be fixed.
A lot of culture tries to tell us that we can be perfect if we work hard enough – and that not being perfect is a product of laziness. But there are things about ourselves we are not meant to change. It’s human nature to want to feel like we belong, but what makes us different sets us apart. We’re not meant to shed the things that make us who we are – even if those things are sometimes quirks and weaknesses and fears.
Sometimes you keep the weight on because when you think you can’t rely on your looks, you start to develop your interests and your sense of self. Sometimes you can’t finish the project because that’s not the project that you have in you to create. Sometimes you keep having emotional breakdowns because you’re trying to stop yourself from going any farther down the wrong path. Instead of trying to change the things that make us uncomfortable, sometimes we have to trust them.
2. Your life isn’t going to change if it doesn’t need to change.
There are some things in life that are hard to change, but you need to change, like staying in a relationship that’s hurting you, not being able to hold down a job, living outside of your means, abusing a substance or not getting help for a mental illness. But these things are extreme. Being obsessed with changing yourself can make your life exponentially worse if you begin to discard everything that’s good in favor of what could be better.
Your life will not change if it doesn’t need to change – that’s what nobody will tell you. If you’ve paid your bills and do work you find at least somewhat enjoyable and spend time with a few people who are close to you and have some clothes in your closet and know where your next meal is coming from, you’re doing better than you think you are.
Continually “fixing” yourself when nothing is wrong will only exhaust you. It will make you miserable. It will condition your brain to be anxious about nothing and everything.
If you can take an honest look at yourself and acknowledge that you’re doing alright, maybe the problem is more that you don’t know how to be content and weather the natural discomforts of life, rather than uproot and overhaul the second you experience a slightly uncomfortable feeling.
3. Timing is everything – and the thing about timing is that you can only understand it in retrospect.
You will not meet your life partner a day before you are ready to. The job opportunity you’ve been searching for will not present itself until you’ve learned what you need to from where you are. Sometimes you are meant to have seasons of idleness. Sometimes what you find on the detour ends up being the better destination.
Sometimes the novel is not ready to be written because you haven’t met the inspiration for your main character yet. Sometimes you need two more years of life experience before you can make your masterpiece into something that will feel real and true and raw to other people. Sometimes you’re not falling in love because whatever you need to know about yourself is only knowable through solitude. Sometimes you haven’t met your next collaborator. Sometimes your sadness encircles you because, one day, it will be the opus upon which you build your life. – Jamie Varon
4. There’s no one blueprint for how a life should go.
Forcing your life into specific timelines is what’s causing you pain. It’s not that you aren’t where you should be, it’s that you think you should be somewhere else. You can’t do “growth” wrong. Becoming who you are isn’t something that takes a set number of weeks or months or years in your 20s.
You are not supposed to be the person you thought you’d grow up to be when you were in high school. You made projections based on the limited knowledge you had then. You made assumptions that turned out not to be true. You do not owe it to your younger self – or anyone else – to be something you that no longer suits you.
5. The hardest and longest lesson that any one of us can learn is to do what we can, and surrender to the rest.
By showing you what you cannot control, you are reminded of what you can. By making you feel helpless, you are pushed to take action. By taking away what you thought you couldn’t bear to lose, you see that you are not reliant on anything but your heart and mind. By bringing waves of unexplainable pain, you remember that not everything can be understood, but it must still be endured. By showing you what you do not have success doing, you begin to redefine what you think you’re here for.
When we are confronted with what we can’t change, we are shown what we can. Life is always trying to awaken us to an inner power.
6. Sometimes the best and most poignant parts of your life will be the ones in which you aren’t all that happy.
If you think you’re not where you should be in life, it’s probably because you aren’t as happy as you imagined you could be.
But “happiness” is such a crude measure of whether or not you’re doing alright, because it doesn’t account for what really makes people thrive: fulfillment, purpose, movement, meaning.
Sometimes, you will uncover the best parts of yourself as you dig yourself out from uncertainty and despair. Sometimes, the work that will make you most proud and fulfilled is the same work that exhausted you and kept you up until 1 a.m. every weeknight creating it. Sometimes, the forever person you’ve been waiting for is on the other side of the challenging relationship you have to get through now.
A happy life is not consistent with a good one. Happiness tends to breed complacency, which is good – for a bit. But wildfires are as necessary to human hearts as they are to nature:
We think of forest fires as these devastating events that we need to stop, but they are actually vital to ecological health of an area. There are plants that require the heat of a wildfire for their seeds to burst open and plant themselves in the earth. There are others that are meant to be flammable, so that fires quells competition. As it turns out, forests are made to have a periodic cleansing by fire. Your heart is made this way, also. – Chrissy Stockton
7. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
It’s easy to think that we are only ever “meant” for good things, that the only seasons of our lives that are “correct” are the ones that we enjoy. But the dark moments of your life are just as intentional as the better ones. They serve just as much purpose.
There is no instance in which you are ever not where you are supposed to be. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there. Rather than constantly running to the next thing, the next goal, the next change, consider that everything that’s in front of you – the good and the bad – is there on purpose, and your real job is only to figure out what that purpose is.