By Katie Marshall
It is easy to believe that everything happens for a reason when you are in a desirable position. Perhaps you just found money you didn’t know you had or you landed the job you wanted but weren’t expecting to get. It’s easy to forgive the annoying things for happening when you’re feeling victorious. Even the small things seem meaningful when they result in something positive, like getting lost but finding what you needed anyway.
When you are driving without direction, aimless, it’s difficult to believe that the confusion and stress has a purpose. We often don’t see the meaning of small and big moments until we remember them. In reflection, we create the meaning necessary to move forward, which you will, eventually, but for now, you are lost.
Or you’re not lost. Even worse than that – you know exactly where you are, but it is nothing like the place you expected when you pictured this moment years ago. Your present isn’t the gift you asked for and when you look around, it seems like everyone else is doing it right. Years ago, you imagined yourself doing more, worrying less, achieving great things, but here you are and it’s a regular Monday afternoon and you feel so average you could die.
Most of our expectations for the future are centered on what we believe to be successful at the time we are thinking of them. When you were a child, you defined success by magic wishes and dreams. As you aged, you learned, and with that knowledge came understanding. Sometimes, success doesn’t match the daydream. Sometimes, success was smaller, like being able to pay for the name brand groceries or having a date for Saturday night. With time and experience, you began to believe that success was either rooted in the little things that would have to be enough even if it eventually became mundane or so far out beyond you that it would never really happen.
You reach a point – the “Is this it?” point which tastes of cardboard staleness from breathing the same office air every day or the exhaustion of trudging through a place that doesn’t feel like home but has become where you live and you’re feeling hopeless, let down, tricked by all of the people who told you to believe in the dreams, and then something incredible happens – usually a small thing, maybe a new restaurant or a new question asked by an old friend – and suddenly, everything changes.
Think about stories of heroes. We picture heroes in their big moments, where they realize their destiny and face the battle and win. But those stories begin with the hero doing every day normal things. Often, the hero doesn’t even know they are a hero yet! They think they are woefully average or out of place or misunderstood. They feel lost, confused, anxious, as though they are doomed to an eternity of mediocrity. They don’t know the big thing that’s coming for them, made just for them.
There is something in each of us that yearns for more, for bigger, for magic and awe. The universe is made of these things and as such, we want to experience them. But the magic of life is that there is more to it than what we want or what we believe we want or what we say will make us happy. Imagine if everything you had ever wanted in your life actually happened. The impulsive demands, the whiny requests, the spiteful worst wishes on your nemesis of the moment. Those things didn’t happen and yet you are here. The quiet and confusion has its purpose in the story of our lives. And the important thing to remember about the hero stories is that the Big Change didn’t actually happen suddenly. It happened after billions of choices and days and months and years, some longer than others. The confusing part of life is part of the adventure.
If you are feeling lost, as though your life is something completely different than you were expecting it to be – especially if it is lower than your original expectations – good. You can’t see it now, but every little thing you choose to do or not do has its purpose. You are on the right track. Don’t give up. That incredible moment, that small thing that changes everything, it’s right around the corner.