When you feel behind in life

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When I went to New Zealand – packed up and hit the road for a 6-month stint attempting the great Canadian novel – I felt so insanely proud. Empowered. Ready to take on life.

And it was the fucking best. I felt everything I wanted to feel and saw all these things I didn’t even know existed. I wrote a lot and learned a lot and met people that impacted my heart so, so much.

Then I came home. It was good and weird and I felt pretty unsettled and unsure that I was ready to like, fully “be home” yet. So I left again, but it was different this time. It wasn’t a life changing decision to ‘chase my dreams’ or ‘shake things up’ or live on the edge for a bit. It was two months. A two-way flight with a start date and an end date and a single goal of coming home with this ‘book’ fully written.

It was different this time. And what was the most different was how I felt about it.

I didn’t feel proud. Empowered. Ready to take on life.

I felt borderline embarrassed.

I mean, I felt like I was doing the right thing. I knew I was doing the right thing. I fully believed this was what I wanted/needed to get out of life right now – to remove myself from the ordinary. To give this whole thing another shot. But I didn’t feel brave. Liberated and strong. I felt self-conscious that while everyone else had their lives together, I was breaking mine up. Again.

I have been gone for a month – a month filled with fishing boats, tuk tuk rides and some of the most delicious coffee you can possibly imagine (YES. Vietnamese coffee is worth alllllll the hype it gets). It’s been a month of forgetting my passport and losing my credit card and crying in front of groups of people who don’t speak English and have literally no idea what I’m losing my mind over. Zipping through the country on a motorbike. Eating pho on the sidewalk and pineapple from a bag.

It’s been beautiful and inspiring and I’ve spent time with a lot of people who reaffirmed why I was here; what I was doing. My wallet is filled with so many currencies I can’t even pretend I’ve been keeping it all straight. It’s been exactly what I wanted.

But I haven’t been able to shake this feeling that I’m a tad self-conscious about what I’m doing.

Because the thing is, it’s not like this cool new thing I’m trying. I didn’t up and quit my job to follow my passions – HOW INSPIRING. I already did that. And it’s way less liberating to do it again. Like, did it not work the first time? Did you fail that hard that you have to do it again?

“My life is boring” people say when I ask for updates from home. “Tell me about your trip.”

But when I talk to people about their supposedly ‘boring’ lives – people who are settling into new relationships; building their career like a mofo – I don’t feel like my life is cooler than theirs. I don’t feel proud to “tell them about my trip.” I feel self-conscious; like they all managed to get their shit together and are watching me flounder around the world trying to do the same. I feel like I’m too old for this.

And I think, really, this right here is what it all comes down to. Feeling scared that I’m too old for this. Because like, I’m travelling Asia at 28 – the same trip people take when they’re 19 and looking to get fucked up at a full moon party, covered in sand and excitement and bright paint. And sure, I’m doing it my own way and the thing is, I really, really like it here. I want to be here. But when I hold myself against conventional standard – against my Facebook feed of people who clearly have their life ‘figured out’ with a partner and a dog and home reno – this time around, it’s a lot harder to feel proud of following my own route.

But I think, maybe, it all comes down to this millennial-mindset that we constantly have to be working towards something; that we always need to be climbing upwards. Reaching for more. And because we’ve accepted these certain milestones as the normal next step, it’s tricky to still acknowledge your life has worth and value and all that good shit when these aren’t your immediate next steps. When you don’t have a clue what you’re doing. But like, does anyone?

Because in my humble opinion – It is fucking HARD to watch people get their lives together without feeling somewhat insecure about how you’re getting your own together. And whether this happens to be riverside in Vietnam or on your Kensington couch – whether you have a dog or not or you bought a house or not or you ate soup from a can for dinner last night after promising yourself you would cook a proper meal – perhaps the feeling is the same.  And maybe what we really need to do is just understand that everyone probably feels this way all the time, regardless of how ‘figured out’ their life appears to be.

So, let’s just know that. And be nice to each other. And perhaps most importantly, drink some damn goooooood coffee along the way.

 

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. E.T. says:

    Dear Leah: I truly do believe that no matter WHAT our age, our human failing and frailty (one of them) is comparison. We continually fall short, as we compare ‘our insides to other peoples outsides’ (not my quote) and in doing so we feel awful. You ARE on your path, God knows exactly where you are and what you are doing and I believe, with my whole heart, that He is pleased. You are unique, as we all are, but your unique path involves travelling, writing, reflecting and being brave and vulnerable enough to share it with the rest of us. I NEVER could have done this. Your brand of bravery is inspiring and humbling. Always know that you are not alone, you are loved and admired. Always.
    “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” Jeremiah 29:11

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