I was standing by the bathroom sink, washing my face and as I looked up in the mirror, I started to cry.
Nothing particularly bad or negative happened to me that day. I just found myself feeling incredibly lost.
This is something that I’ve been going through and struggling with over the last couple of years. To the point where I feel tired of bringing it up- both in my personal life and on this blog. Seriously, I am so over it.
On the outside, my life is a dream. It is a life for which I feel incredibly grateful, every single day. I have an amazing, true saint of a life-partner, wonderful family and support system, a dog who’s been by my side since college and who probably understands me better than some of my friends, a beautiful house, I work with great people. And yet, there is this internal struggle that takes place in my head on most days.
As a child, I got sick a lot. I remember once waking up in a hospital bed in the middle of the night, hearing someone scream in the room across the hall, not knowing where I am, feeling lost and scared. This is kind of what I’ve been feeling these last few years.
I never really had a “plan” for myself…
For most of my life, I kind of just went with my gut and hoped for the best. Things, or my life I should say, turned out great. The right people, events and places just always somehow found their way into my life. Then, a small injury turned into a bigger issue, which turned into living with pain, which then turned into a battle with chronic stress, that (oh, you thought I was done?) turned into more serious health issues. All of that combined led me to feel not only scared, but also like I’m slowly losing the person I once was- and, after a very long time, it was finally a person I loved and felt proud of. I found myself feeling like a different person. Her… I wasn’t so sure how I felt about her. No longer a health-nut who at any time could be found either working, exercising, cleaning or going out for a run, always doing something productive and exciting.
See, even though I never really had a plan, I did know what I wanted out of life- and I was getting it all. Then, I felt like someone had pulled the rug from under me. Time and time again. I felt like I was losing control.
When you feel lost in life, despite it being something that we all go through at some point, not everyone will understand. “Why do you feel this way, why are you upset? Your life is great!” Well, yes, I don’t deny that whenever I hear my friends or family say it. The thing is, sometimes our biggest struggles happen deep inside- in a place invisible to others.
If this is something you’re going through- don’t give up, because I’m not planning on giving up either. Be gentle with yourself. That’s what I keep telling myself. It was easy at first, but the longer this “feeling lost” lasts, the more impatient you become with yourself. The important thing is that you keep trying, and remember some of these things:
7 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN YOU FEEL LOST
YOU ARE NOT BEHIND IN LIFE
There isn’t some invisible or “unofficial” timeline by which your life has to move. You don’t have to go to college right after graduating High School, you don’t have to go at all. You don’t have to get married by the time you’re 25 and have a house and a family by the time you’re 35. I got married at 23 and six years later, the thought of starting a family hasn’t crossed my mind and I don’t know if it ever will. Yet other people still feel obligated to point out my or my husband’s age and stress the importance of producing an offspring at every family function, making me feel like I’m doing something wrong, or like I’m less of a woman because of our current child-free status.
If you’re nearing 25, or 30 and you still don’t know what you want to do for a living, which path to take- you are not behind in life. You are not behind in life if you haven’t yet found “the one” (there can always be “another one” so who cares?) This made up schedule, this invisible timeline is just that- it’s all made up, it’s not real. Despite what the people around you might think or say you really don’t have to do anything. You can’t beat yourself up over feeling “behind” on anything in life, because you’re not behind. Your life is different from mine and it’s okay for us, all of us, to follow different paths. Doing things differently is not doing things “backward” and it’s not falling behind.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME
Sometimes, when life throws you a curveball, all you want to do is for things to go back to “normal.” You want it to happen now. Unfortunately, that takes time. Whether you’re dealing with loss, an injury, a heartbreak or any other personal challenge, you have to give yourself time. This can be difficult because, as we just established, we often feel like we have to follow “the plan” and falling behind usually isn’t a part of one. You don’t have to try to force yourself to get better, to feel happy. Give yourself time to heal.
IT’S OKAY TO BE “NOT OKAY”
Feeling lost doesn’t mean that you’re weak. Allow yourself to feel negative emotions that suddenly come over you, allow yourself to fall apart and maybe even ugly-cry a little. Don’t look at it as a weakness. You can’t shove those feelings somewhere deep inside and hope for the best.
The more you resist those “bad” feelings, the more power they will hold over you. It’s okay to be “not okay.” You can choose to leave a situation, to change your mind, to back out of a plan. There is no need to feel bad about feeling lost, confused or frustrated. I will repeat something I wrote before in an older blog post: we should all allow ourselves to fall apart sometimes so that we can find ourselves all over again.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
I know that feeling lost can sometimes leave you thinking that you’re all alone, that you’re the only person feeling this way.
You are not. Trust me on this one.
We all get lost, we all go through tough and challenging times. Problem is, we don’t always talk about it. Most of the time we only share the highlights of our lives with other people, we don’t show our weak moments. We all have them though. Don’t feel frustrated, embarrassed or hopeless- what you’re going through is something that happens to us all.
SOMETIMES GETTING LOST CAN HELP YOU FIND YOURSELF
Making mistakes is just another way to learn an important lesson. Getting lost somewhere along the way can help you learn new things about yourself. Over the last two years or so, I’ve learned that a lot of us, myself included, are a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We find ourselves in situations that seem hopeless, and yet we somehow find a way out. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever feel like giving up- it means that we simply won’t do it.
If you find yourself feeling lost, not knowing what to do next, try as many new things as possible. Don’t be afraid to spend time alone, to step out of your comfort zone. You might learn something new about yourself, you might discover that you have a skill or a talent you never knew existed. Or, you might remember something about yourself- maybe there are some things that used to bring joy to your life but you simply forgot all about them. Feeling “lost” doesn’t have to be a bad thing- now and again, it can end up being one of the best things to happen to you.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START OVER
I don’t care how old you are or how much “baggage” you think you carry with you. It is never too late to start over. Both in my personal life and through blogging, I’ve met people from all walks of life. I know someone who was depressed, sickly and struggled with weight his entire life and turned it all around- got healthy and found love after turning 50. I know people who left abusive relationships after years of suffering in silence and finally started living their lives on their own terms. People who completely reinvented themselves, changed their career path, found passion again. It is never too late to start over- no matter who you are.
YOU CAN’T BE AFRAID OF CHANGE
Change can be intimidating, confusing, frightening and… a breeding ground for self-doubt. There are some setbacks from which you think you can’t come back- sometimes, you go through situations that not only challenge you but also change you. Some things might never go back to being “normal” and that’s okay. That is when you have to come up with a new plan and maybe reinvent yourself a little.
Don’t be afraid to press that reset button and see things from a different perspective. By being afraid of making a change you can hold yourself back. You don’t have to resist it, you have to remember that you are the one in charge- even when it doesn’t always seem that way.
There won’t come an age or a time in your life where you’ll finally have it all figured out. That’s something we believe to be true when we’re very young. Then you grow older and realize that just because you’re a “big girl” now, with a “big girl” job, a mortgage and a dog, it doesn’t mean that you have an answer to everything. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever feel lost again; it doesn’t mean that you won’t ever again find yourself in a place where you have to pick up the pieces.
That is not what life is about. It is not about having it all figured out. It is about growing, learning. It is about enjoying every small, beautiful moment and fighting through every ugly and “bad” situation, and coming out stronger. And, sometimes, just sometimes, it’s also about getting lost and not knowing what to do next. That is okay. You are okay- and if you’re not right now, you will be.
DOWNLOAD YOUR LIST OF 50 WAYS TO PRACTICE SELF-LOVE
Anika May ♡October 6, 2018 at 11:26 am
I’m 22 and have somehow convinced myself that I’m miles behind everyone else and need to get a killer career, a husband, a dog and three kids before I’m thirty – it’s an awful feeling! This is such a lovely post, really well written, I loved it!
Anika | anikamay.co.uk
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:33 pm
Thank you so much, Anika! No way you’re behind on anything, not that it should matter, but 22 is so young!
Carla LisbonOctober 6, 2018 at 11:36 am
Thank you for sharing. Reading your blog was timely for me, as I recently became unemployed from a job that I enjoyed for nearly 17 years. I’m having a hard time adjusting to life without work, I’ve had a few interviews without success and that has made me feel some kind of way. I feel like i’m adrift, with no particular direction or purpose. Thank you for reminding me to be gentle to myself, and to allow myself to feel what I’m feeling. You’re right it’s never too late to start over, so I will remind myself that so I can maintain a positive outlook.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:45 pm
Thank you so much for reading, Carla! Sorry to hear about your job- I’ve learned that “bad” endings are often a beginning of something more exciting and beautiful. Take your time and keep a positive outlook (I know it’s not always easy). Dealing with a setback can be so difficult and stressful, you don’t need to add more stress by being hard on yourself. Remember that sometimes when you hear “no” it’s because there is something much better out there for you! x
Danielle AlexaOctober 6, 2018 at 12:00 pm
I feel like time is one of the most important things that you can give yourself!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:46 pm
Teresa MariaOctober 6, 2018 at 3:33 pm
This was such an honest post and I could really relate with a lot of it. Learning to be kind to yourself is definitely one of the key things in keeping onesself together and I also think the last point about accepting change is really important. A lot of people struggle with change but it’s one thing in life that will never go away. So we have to learn to live with it :)
Teresa | outlandishblog.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:47 pm
Yes, exactly! If there are a few things guaranteed to happen in your life, it’s definitely change. The sooner we realize that, the better. :) Thank you for reading, Teresa!
Vero IdeasOctober 6, 2018 at 7:46 pm
Thank you very much. It’s very inspiring. I really needed to read something like that now.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:48 pm
Thank you so much, Vera!
Linda Libra LocaOctober 7, 2018 at 12:50 am
I will be 40 next year, and even though I had a plan for my life all the time, I had to change it several times. Once when I was told I wouldn’t be able to have children (I always wanted to be a mother), then when I got a divorce. Then when I got pregnant and now have two beautiful children, but realized that the career I had carved out for myself wasn’t working for me anymore. Then when I purchased a huge house that needs a lot of time and investment.
I have felt lost so many times, having to adapt to a new me, but in hindsight it was always a beautiful thing that I was about to become.
There really is no deadline in life, you can start over until the day you die.
Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:52 pm
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Anne! I think that your story is such a perfect example of the fact that we can’t always plan out every single aspect of our lives and that you can never truly know where life will take you and the beautiful surprises it can give you. :)
I love that last sentence “you can start over until the day you die.” Really beautifully said!
Lisa AutumnOctober 7, 2018 at 5:25 am
I love love loved this post girl! Well done!
x Lisa | lisaautumn.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:52 pm
DreamInLaceOctober 7, 2018 at 5:20 pm
Absolutely love this post! Lately I’ve been incredibly busy working my butt off at work with barely any time for my own blog/side-hustle. The chaos of it all has left me with many W T F moments where I ask myself what the hell I’m even doing with myself. This weekend I’ve hit pause on everything and have taken time to really assess it all and this read came at the perfect time.
xoxo – Kelly
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:56 pm
Thank you so much for reading, Kelly! Sometimes taking a break and looking at things from different perspective is so necessary. These days there are so many of us who live without actually feeling alive; it’s so easy to get lost and suddenly wake up not realizing where the years have gone.
StephanieOctober 7, 2018 at 8:01 pm
This is a beautiful post. I think that these are such wonderful things to remember and I really appreciate them. I definitely feel that way sometimes especially during the fall when things start to get so crazy with the holidays looming and large gatherings on the horizon. Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful week. Stephanie
StephanieOctober 7, 2018 at 8:11 pm
This is a beautiful post. I think that these are such wonderful things to remember and I really appreciate them. I definitely feel that way sometimes especially during the fall when things start to get so crazy with the holidays looming and so many expectations. Also, I appreciate you sharing and I have to say that no one has the right to inquire into your personal life and that I hope that one day people will realize how invasive they are and stop doing that. Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful week. Stephanie
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:58 pm
Aww, thank you so much, Stephanie! Ah yes, this time of year can definitely get a little crazy, it’s so easy to suddenly find yourself feeling lost and exhausted.
Thank you so much for saying that! I’m afraid that nosiness and gossip is such a big part of my culture, I’ll forever be the subject of random interrogations by distant family members, lol! I’ve learned not to judge those people, even though sometimes I do feel like telling them to just mind their own damn business, haha! :)
Hope you’re doing well!
Hannah Cao | stained taleOctober 8, 2018 at 4:14 am
Thank you for this!
Hannah / stained tale
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 6:59 pm
Aww, you’re very welcome. Thank you for reading!
Katy StephensonOctober 8, 2018 at 11:48 am
I really needed this post! It’s so important to remember it’s okay not to be okay!
Katy | http://www.therawrdrobe.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 7:05 pm
Thank you, Katy!
KamillaOctober 8, 2018 at 1:52 pm
I was really feeling very down and unsure about life.
All I can say is thank you for this blog post!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 7:06 pm
Naww! Thank you so much for reading, Kamilla!
Andrea MazzolaOctober 9, 2018 at 7:28 pm
Such an incredible post. I just recently graduated college and currently feel stuck in a career that just isn’t for me. I often think about what it would be like to just start over. Thanks for the inspiring post.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 7:06 pm
It’s never too late to start over, Andrea! Thank you so much for reading!
MoonsparkleOctober 10, 2018 at 5:46 pm
Thanks for the post, Paula. :) I really needed to read it, especially the part about not behind in life. I often feel behind in life because I’m 34 and don’t have a successful career, haven’t found “the one” and don’t have a family, but this reminds me that everyone has different lives, and is at diferent stages.
Also like the points about “It’s never too late to start over” and “You can’t be afraid of change”. I am afraid of change in general, but I’m working on that.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 10, 2018 at 7:05 pm
Zania, thank you so much for reading! There is so much life and beautiful things ahead of you, it’s so unfair that we feel like we have to constantly chase those weird expectations and timelines. It doesn’t matter how much “planning” you do for your life, sometimes things just end up working out differently and nothing goes according to plan. How boring would it be if all of our lives looked exactly the same? Some of the most interesting people I’ve met are people who had many different jobs/careers throughout their lives and they’re still searching for that one thing they’d like to do for a living.
You’re doing great and don’t let anyone else make you feel like you’re behind on anything!
MoonsparkleOctober 11, 2018 at 10:01 am
Thank you, Paula! <3
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 12, 2018 at 4:41 am
HaylieOctober 17, 2018 at 10:34 pm
Wow! This is such a good post! I agree that change is necessary to grow and learn.
The Morning Buzz | https://themorningbuzzblog.com/
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comOctober 19, 2018 at 9:05 am
Thank you, Haylie!