I have absolutely no idea why I’m emailing you, other than the fact that I am completely and utterly miserable, and so were you, but now you’re not.
I am lost, I am unhappy, I am bored, I am trapped, I am in a rut. I need to get away, really, really need to get away, but I don’t know where to start.
I read your posts and see your pictures etc. and I ache. I constantly think about upping and leaving, but I never do it. I pretend I’m the spontaneous, independent type, but I’m not. I need people holding me up, I need people telling me what to do, and I need at least a rough plan.
I know nobody can help me but myself, and yet… help me?
Oh Lord. I know this. I know this so, so well. I know what it is to be paralyzed in uncertainty and confusion and not knowing. I know the desperate need to have answers when you’re not even very sure what the question is. I know the pain. The sucker punch of having to put one foot in front of the other ever damned day, looking from left to right and seeing how everyone else seems just fine. How are they doing? Don’t they get hurt and lonely and confused, too? Did we miss the guidebook on how to function when there is no guidebook?
You are not alone.
What you feel, that is growth. They’re called growing pains for a reason, and that’s because they fucking hurt. Growth can come at any time. It doesn’t always happen for a specific reason, or as a result of a specific “thing”. Growth just is. That’s what this is, for you, now.
I want to ask you, very seriously, if you’d like to talk to a professional about how you feel. I struggled with undiagnosed depressed for about five or six years before I finally sought out help, and it was the grandest relief I have ever felt in my short life when a doctor told me they could help. That there were “reasons” for the way I processed information. For how I was. It took a little medication and a lot of soul-searching, and now I have the mental tools to navigate depressive tendencies without that medication – and I’d absolutely recommend considering if that could be right for you, too.
Figuring It Out is a never-ending battle that is beautiful and frustrating and sees highs that touch the sky and lows down in the trenches. Please don’t look to anything you see online – of mine, of anyone’s – and think that it is not the same for them as it is for you. We all fight terrible, bitter wars within our own minds, and that private warfare is human. Universal. It looks different for each and every one of us, but tastes exactly the same.
I don’t know what your exact answer is. I don’t know if you should quit your job and travel the world or start your own business or go to therapy or just need a night out dancing with the girls. I don’t know if tomorrow you will fall in love – with another person or with yourself – or if it will get better tonight or tomorrow or next week. I just know that you have to try, and that trying comes with a caveat: don’t judge yourself. Don’t judge yourself for how you feel, just know that you do, and permit yourself the gift of exploring that. Permit yourself to see how it feels to take a trip, or Google a Master’s program, or switch off your phone for the weekend. Experiment with what feels good, but know that in doing that some stuff will feel not good. Let that inform you. Let it feed you. Let it ease the pain.
Reader Question is a new series of advice columns from Laura Jane Williams. She doesn’t know shit about shit, but if you want to be reassured that everything is going to be okay, use the “Contact Laura Jane” box on her author profile to email her your question.