Life moves so fast, yet is not the passing of time so slow?
If introspection and life crises hit you daily and you’re feeling lost, this is for you.
The older you get, the more impactful decisions become. This isn’t news. It’s more of a realization we all don’t want to accept as true.
Should I move, take that job, call that guy…Following all monumental decisions, there are waves of regret that follow. Yeah, I’m talking to you margherita pizza, which took me 1 hour to finally order.
Regardless of which decision you end up seeing through, you will doubt it. And you will, inevitably doubt yourself.
Choosing your path
Does gut feeling outshine logic? If you opt for what you feel in the moment, it must be the lesser of two evils, right?
At least in my case, basing life-altering decisions on a meager 23 years of life experience is not wise. We must decide however. Spending life in a crippling state of indecision is not life well-lived.
Imagine I’m 70 years old (please don’t actually). If I had lived THAT much life, the odds that gut feelings are a nudge more trusty are higher, but at 23? That’s a failed mentality.
What then do you do when the thought is recurring that you made a mistake. You feel your path could be different?
Everyone is restless
Follow me down the rabbit hole.
I get freaking anxiety when I’m sick. The other night, I hit my head badly. Damn high heels and the pressure of blending with Dutch skyscrappers of humans, I was not dressed fit for walking. The result was likely a concussion that had me thinking–I’m done. This is it, then and there.
The following day, I had a headache so bad – the worst of my life – I could’t focus on anything. Even the thought of picking up my phone to answer text messages was too much to bear all day. Turns out I was coming down with a fever as well and my friend had the same. Who knows what was up; I’m better now. What I do know is I was staring at the wall for the better half of the afternoon, anxious that this is how I would be forever, like I had lost my mind. Dramatic?
Yeah, warned you. I felt like those people in movies I used to make fun of when they needed to hold someone’s hand. Even a stranger on a plane would have meant the world because their anxiety over flying was just so bad. Feeling grounded by some other human, anyone, would be the saving grace, proving they were not alone.
This was exactly how I felt. I wanted a hand to hold – and not out of loneliness in the typical sense but in a scared and helpless little human way. And so, I spent that Sunday silently freaking out in my room, listening to Justin Timberlake to soothe me, hugging my stuffed animal golden retriever, and not able to sleep.
When anxiety fades, you feel like a weight has been lifted. You are grateful af to be alive again. This digression is not meant to belittle those who have come even closer to death or who legitimately have more intense and frequent bouts of anxiety. This is me putting pen to paper on the mind of Meg.
In any case, it’s in these moments that you begin to look at your life, at what you realize you could have lost, what you want and don’t have, and oh how sad it would be to lose out on the chance to have it.
For me, that’s family nearby, that’s love, that’s the feeling that you are understood and seen as your authentic self by most everyone you encounter. For me, to be remembered for Meghan in her truest form would be quite cool.
There are too many times that you hold back: business professionalism, trying to fit in with certain crowds, ‘going with the flow’. All the while you know that it’s when you’re around close, long term peers that you’re real.
It’s cool to meet new people. Certainly I love it. As I get older, I realize how difficult it is. To get people to understand your truest self is complex because as you grow ‘you’ becomes a combination of people. You must stand-in in their absence. For me, it’s my best friend, closest cousin, my sister. I am some odd combination of them and the qualities they brought to this world. Why? Admiration. Love for their authenticity.
Living in Amsterdam, freshly moved from Brussels – those ‘people’ are not so near. I am fucking impatient. Investing in new relationships in this deep way takes time. I feel an urgency for the ‘new’ to see me for me. The me that shines in the presence of those who shaped me.
One could say you take those people with you wherever you go. You might say holding onto a solid version of your truest self is something that comes with age as well, but don’t tell me that. I know it.
It’s hard. In fact the hardest part of moving somewhere new is exactly this. So badly we want to retreat to the old because of the investment made in relationships elsewhere, where we’ve spent more time. The people you know from those places but also the cities themselves call you to your many homes.
The unpredictable turn of Brussels’s cobblestones under foot, the coffee scent that floats from Madison cafes, crisp suburban air and cars speeding past, the active spirit of bikers breezing in the rain of Amsterdam’s canal maze.
Soundtrack to life
Music brings back old times, good and bad. I’m one of those addicted personalities listening to a song on repeat until temporarily exhausted. Listening back to songs is therefore ultimate nostalgia for me.
I hear the French pop artist Amir and recall my final semester of university in Madison, drowning myself in a schedule of near entirely French classes, thrilled to move to Brussels for good in just a few short months.
Living in the now
Your mind and soul miss the people, your body–the cities. It’s in moments of anxiety, sickness, tears, that we need the elements of a past life. Phone calls and face times help but are nothing more than temporary escape. Once you dial off, you’re again stuck living in the realization that those places and people – at least for now – are not part of this life.
I’ve kept in close contact with only a few from home over the 1.5 years living abroad, namely my parents, my sister and my brother. My level of love for everyone else is not here reflected, but it’s an investment that has simply been neglected. Priorities shift for us all indeed.
Sometimes you must trust life with work out. To quote a constant from my dad growing up: “Everything works out in the end, and if it hasn’t worked out yet it’s not the end.” While as a teen, I found this incredibly cheesy and would roll my eyes at the wisdom, age 23 showed me this golden nugget in a new light. This outlook on our journey finally began to resonate.
Shit moods & smiles
There are days you’ll wonder–why is everyone around me so happy? What is the trick. For the days you’re in a shit mood – which you also can’t explain – and you simply must slap on a smile and pretend, don’t give up.
It’s a combination of things that affect our psyche. Somethings we can control, others not. Genetics, alcohol, who we choose to invite in our lives, whether relationships will wind up in a disappointment so strong it aches at your soul, causing self-depreciating thoughts and feelings no one should ever have. Yes, the list goes on.
Returning to dad’s quote–these struggles and trials we feel we’re facing, they will find a resolution. It’s just not yet.
While the process of understanding how to reach ‘joy’ may be long and filled with unknowns, take it step by step. Surround yourself with the right people to lift you out of slumps. Another thing? Habits are just that and can be changed. If your current situation is not making you happy, don’t sit still.
Uncertainty can often be traced to a lack of purpose. Switching friends, careers and, yes, countries, and quite frequently will of course cause turmoil. With all the newness, it’s easy to lose yourself. To that, I say hold fast to the self you know best and love. And don’t fear.
Purpose traces back to feeling useful, offering something to the world you feel confident in and love. For me, that is food. Don’t lose that spark and source of joy that brings you back to you when you need it.
Even if life’s ebb and flow dwindles the time available for your passion, don’t lose sight. Maintain purpose, hold your passions close and you will reach a contentment so beautiful you’ll forget the rest. Baby steps, but we’ll reach that end one day.