When I get older, then my life will…. When I get married, then my life will…. When I get the right job, then my life will…. We are filled with a variety of expectations whether they are high expectations or low expectations. For the blessed/fortunate/lucky group, their dreams come true just as how it was expected; however, for everyone else, life can be very different. What do you do when your reality is different from your expectations?
A friend of mine is struggling immensely due to drastic changes that happened in a few short weeks. While her issues require professional intervention, I realize that she is no different from the rest of us who have a hard time reconciling our perfect image of what life should be with what it is. It is very hard to go through our experiences feeling completely helpless and ultimately see ourselves as failures. It is hard to step away from having blinders, tunnel vision, and our individual tales of woe. It is hard to imagine a happy existence as our life do not look quite like how we expect it.
In this day and age, resiliency and thinking outside our ‘perfect’ box seem like a thing of the past. We fall apart so easily; we become incapacitated at the first obstacle; we give up; we blame everyone and everything; we feel excess guilt and shame; we stop searching for a way out and simply accept the mess in which we stand. People stop trying to survive.
As cliché as it may sound, life is what you make of it. If I committed suicide tomorrow, then that’s what I made of my life; if I decided to go out and take a walk in the park instead of sitting inside, then that’s what I made of that moment in my life; if I choose to volunteer or help someone I know, then that’s what I made of that moment in my life. If I choose to be defeated by circumstances that are not going my way; then that is what I made of my life.
This is not to trivialize that most people will have difficulties and tragedies; however, this is a push to recognize when people have crossed the line from normal reactions to hardship or disappointments to ongoing self-defeat. In other words, we stop finding reasons to give thanks and see the other options life has to offer. Many people become so embarrassed or ashamed of their current situations which drives them to isolate or hide and so the spiral of doom begins. The thing is the average person cannot navigate life’s changes all alone. Without a trusted wingman (friends, family, therapist etc.), it is easy to get lost in one’s personal mess. As much as we need the support from others, we also need to learn to get support from ourselves.
Feel free to Google the story of Sgt. Noah Galloway a double amputee who is one of many people whose life definitely did not go as expected, found himself in a dark hole, and ultimately found the will and strength to climb out of it.