One some days, life sucks, things go wrong, or things feel wrong. Or you had a big change that might not even have been planned. This post is for when it is on of the dreary days. Save or bookmark this somewhere. And add your pep talk in the comments (we are looking for pep talk, not “you should” advice or advertising).
This blog is a little different but it wanted out so here it is. Not everything will resonate with everyone at all times, so take what works this time.
Look after yourself. Ask for help if you need it.
- You are fabulous. You made it this far, which is an achievement. You might not always get congratulations from others. Congratulate yourself.
- Given we don’t really know what happens in other people’s lives, their measures of success might just not be relevant for you. Find your own and go by that. This is your journey, not anybody else’s.
- Change takes time. Like for a caterpillar that retreats into a cocoon to then emerge as a butterfly, the in-between phase is messy. We often don’t get cocoons and have to do change and transformation in plain sight while keeping stuff running. Things might feel messy because they are. That is normal.
- You don’t owe people information and updates. It is OK to take a timeout to work something through or to sort out your thoughts and feelings and other muddles (don’t ghost people you care about, but tell them you need a moment if you do).
- Stop the gremlins (I). A lot of us have a hyperactive inner critic, and that can drown out a lot of our other, more constructive little voices. Imagine it like a functioning team where everyone gets to contribute. The critic has some points, and then it needs to sit down and zip it for a while so the others can speak as well.
- Stop the gremlins (II). Sometimes, people’s comments say more about themselves and their own lives or the relationship between you, which might well have moved on or evolved since you first met. You don’t have to wear everything people hand you.
- “No” is a complete sentence. Not just in German.
- “Not yet” and “not right now” are also good ones.
- A lot of things get easier if you involve professionals. Lawyers, therapists, financial experts, your faith leader if that is meaningful to you, doctors, tradespeople specialized charities. Don’t try to fix everything by yourself. Get help.
- Sleep, hydration, fresh air and exercise you can handle are your friends. Alcohol and other short-term focused things of a similar ilk aren’t. Neither is some of the stuff you might buy at Boots just because you can get it over the counter. See point above re. involving doctors and experts if you went down some of these roads too far.
- Distractions are OK (up to a point). Keep basic civilization going as much as you can (showers, eating veggies etc…)
- Don’t wait for permission from society, your parents, your boss etc. You can make your own choices (and, as for all adults, choices have consequences. These can also be positive).
- Escape moves like tattoos, radical hairstyle changes, spontaneous trips and holiday flings won’t solve what you are looking to solve. At the same time, they can be a lot of fun and put you back in touch with some aspects of yourself that were dormant for too long. But please be an adult.
—On tattoos: They can be magnificent works of art and make awesome life milestone markers but keep an eye on your field of work (visibility…) and get a properly trained artist and a design that will be meaningful in a looooooong time frame.
—On hair: Don’t do something that makes you cry. On the other hand, it’s just hair. It will grow back and you can always dye it black if the wild turquoise refuses to leave (it will refuse to leave).
—On spontaneous trips: Don’t get into debt. Don’t bet the farm. Get travel insurance and update your vaccinations.
—On flings and other brief encounters: While this can put the spring back into your step, be an adult. If you are free, you can be free, with consent. Don’t cause pain to self and others and keep yourself and others safe. You are likely more vulnerable than normally and your sense of perspective might not be where it normally is. This is meant to be about pleasure, so communicate and listen. To yourself and to anyone else involved or affected. Particularly if you’ve been out of the game for a while.
If you have a partner right now and this is not within boundaries you already agreed on, take a long pause before you do anything. Your next step could involve a deeper connection with the person you are already with. Or a more comprehensive joint inquiry into where you are right now, and where you would like to be. One-night stands are not worth destroying a life with others for, and a drunk Friday night is not the time and place to make life-altering decisions for you and your family, particularly when they are not even involved. Pause. Seriously, pause.
- It is OK to be mindful about your news intake (and if you live on twitter, you can mute words, hashtags and individual accounts and it’s OK to do that). Also, don’t just live on twitter.
- Do something that connects you where you are right now. Start taking pictures of your neighborhood. Find out the name of that friendly barista who saves your mornings. Try out that local cafe that isn’t a chain.
- Talk to your friends, reconnect with people. Real human conversations. We are all in this together.
- Show up for your friends and topics you care about. It’s easy to become cynical and disengage completely. That makes things worse. Don’t roll around in the misery, but show up for people and things looking to make it better. And if you have an idea or a cause, take a step for it. Also, democracy is not a spectator sport. If you can vote, vote.
- Support local businesses and initiatives. Entrepreneurs are the crazy ones who put themselves out there every day. Respect and support that and find a wonderful community.
- Do something. Don’t be the person that just sits on the couch and bitches and moans. That is not you. It’s OK to have a phase to withdraw, grieve, scream into a pillow etc. And then you come back out again and do something.
- Start. If something tickles you, take a first step. Find out more, talk to people, take a taster class. Whatever it is, nourish the tender shoots. It might not go anywhere, but give it a chance. You don’t need to map out a full future with it, or a complete path. Just the next step. And then you take it and see how it goes. The first step makes the second step possible. Take the first step.
- Practice forgiveness. For a lot of us, this starts with ourselves. Hindsight is always perfect, and after-action-reviews are a good way of learning. But life is lived forwards. Stop beating yourself up.
- Crawling on your eyebrows counts as moving forward.
- It’s not all about the doing. Being is also key. You already are. Allow yourself to be.
- Yours is a bigger story so keep at it, even if you made a mess on that one page where the pencil broke. Sharpen it and keep writing. Own your story.
- Allow yourself to be enchanted. Smell the roses. Do a playdate with yourself, your inner 8 year-old is still in there somewhere.
- Sometimes, “someone senior should…” will be on you. We have to be the elders we wish we had. And your elder self can look after your scared child self. And your child self can take your elder self out to play in the park.
This is good for all of you 😉
- Keep a journal. Someday, your future self will be grateful to have a record how you made all this future awesomeness happen.
- Wash your hands. Get vaccinated unless medically exempt.
- Keep going. You won’t know who you are going to be, to rediscover, to become
(If things feel rough, get professional help, like from the Samaritans )
(slightly updated Dec2021)