Baby Steps

Imagine this: you’re alone in a room, exhausted and wondering how long it’s been since you’ve had a full night of sleep. Your vision, what not too long ago gave you hope and motivation, now seems hazy and full of uncertainty. You sit down, thinking that it will help you think more clearly, but it doesn’t; you just end up staring at a wall for an entire minute or more. 

There are a dozen questions going through your mind, but the only one that keeps screaming you repeatedly is “Oh God, where do I go from here? What do I do now?” But all you really want to do is curl up in a ball and guard yourself from whatever painful or scary thing that may be waiting to hit you next. 

Yet in that moment, all you can do is cry. Weep. Sob. Until you feel like you have absolutely nothing left to cry about. 

I have experienced this more times than I can say, especially as I’ve gotten older. Normally this type of scenario occurs when I realize that things aren’t working out the way I thought. Figuratively speaking, I’ve run into a wall and have fallen flat on my back. In a way, I have failed.

I hate failure, as does everyone else, I’m sure. It’s agonizing when you’ve worked your tail off, only to come to a point where it seems like it was for nothing. But you can’t succeed unless you fail first; and chances are, you’ll get stuck and fail multiple times before you experience success.

There are several different forms of being stuck: 1. The rug has been pulled out underneath you and you’re not sure what to do next. 2. You have absolutely no idea what you want, or how to figure out what you want. 3. You know that you’re going somewhere, but you don’t know where and it scares the crap out of you. 4. You’re in a cycle of some kind and have no clue how to break free from it.

I have been through all of these on some level, and am currently going through number two. I don’t have all the answers and as human beings, we’ll never be completely put together or have it all figured out. But that doesn’t mean that moving forward is a hopeless cause.

First of all, let me say that Hollywood has it all wrong. In the dozens of feel-good movies that exist today, there is the same old formula where the main character has an epiphany of some kind, and then everything automatically starts getting better afterward. That’s not realistic, and that’s not the way life works.

Personally, I have come to learn that getting “unstuck” involves a lot of baby steps. It’s good, if not essential to get your thoughts out on the table, whether it be on paper or in person with someone that you trust. It’s important to have those kinds of people walking with you through this time in your life to help you and hold you accountable for your actions. But there are other things, small things that are frequently overlooked: 

Get up and MOVE-I don’t mean that purely in the context of just exercising, although exercising can be useful as well. What I mean is don’t spend every single day lounging around and dwelling on where you’re at in life. Get up, take a shower, and do something. It can be something as simple as taking a trip to the grocery story or getting coffee. Don’t be afraid to put on a little mascara and lipstick if you feel like it, because even the most ordinary events can turn into special occasions. But as much as I love “comfort clothes”, sweatpants and bathrobes get a little suffocating after a while. It’s not an automatically solution, but hopefully it might be a mood boost of sorts. 

Be honest about what you really want, and write it down-I’m not talking about making a list of X number of things that you want to do before you die or hit a certain age; those eventually become overwhelming and you become more concerned with just crossing stuff on the list than taking the time to enjoy them. Pick five things and then focus on those, one day at a time. 

Don’t beat yourself up-You will have “off” days, or days that just completely suck. Don’t get discouraged or frustrated so easily, particularly if you’re in the process of working toward something. It takes a lot of time and patience. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you’re human, and let it go. 

All people get “stuck” at some point in their lives, many of them dozens of times over. And by the end, you may not be exactly where you want to be or do all that you have wanted to do. But trust me when I say that with enough perseverance, faith, and determination, you can make a change. Those baby steps, at first appearing small and insignificant can’t lead to big things. You just have to keep going.

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