A few weeks ago I stood in the shower staring off into the space between the tiles. The water flowed over my body creating rivers and rain. I was having another one of those deep thought moments that often came unexpectedly and leave me feeling bewitched.
“No one has anything figured out,” I told myself.
The awe of an “ah-ha” moment shined rays of light on dark thought processes that had stunted my growth for too long. I shut off the water and stepped out dripping wet, making a mess everywhere. I was completely distracted by this liberating thought.
Holy shit! No one has anything figured out!!
I walked through life for the next few weeks with this thought churning in my heart, unlocking wild places I hadn’t felt since I was a child. It was as if I had discovered a new sense of freedom and gumption that I had lost long ago – and it changed me. This bewildering thought that no one had anything figured out gave me permission to start questioning.
When had I become so scared of taking a risk? When had I stopped trusting my gut and started relying solely on the advice of others? When had I stopped thinking for myself?
I wanted answers to those questions, and in my contemplation I learned four lessons as I explored the thought that everyone is just figuring it the fuck out as they go along, and that it was okay for me to do the same.
The first lesson came on a wave of realization as light was shed on the ridiculous notion that there was only one path to happiness, to dreams, to accomplishment, to whatever was always on the horizon and never in my hands. This notion left me crippled with indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision – so I didn’t make any decisions. Looking at it now, it’s laughable.
Of course there’s more than one way to get to where you want to go. If one door doesn’t open, try another!
This stagnant living caused me to be bored to tears, overall dissatisfied and eventually depressed. This wasn’t the life I wanted to live; afraid to make the wrong choice instead of just making an educated decision and giving it a shot. That’s really all you can do – take the shot. I beat myself up for not having the answers until I realized, no one has the answers. You gotta create the answers as you go along.
The second lesson came as self consciousness slipped off my shoulders like a thin summer dress sliding off the body and landing in a heap on the floor. Wearing nothing but my skin, I bared myself in confidence and boldness.
The moment I learned that I was not an anomaly for not having all of life’s answers, was the moment I tapped into a part of myself that is nothing but strength and power – and it felt good. I began speaking up more instead of hiding my thoughts behind a wall of silence. I began caring less what people thought of me or if they’d like what I had to say. This wasn’t a license to be rude and hurtful toward others, this was permission to sit at the table and have a voice.
I had often felt unqualified and as a result disqualified from having a seat at the table. I let others speak and find solutions because I was too young, too inexperienced, too much and never enough. It was yet another ridiculous notion that I tore to the ground and promptly walked over it with a sway to my hips that told people, “I know who I am, and I’m not giving up my seat at the table any longer.”
The third lesson was birthed in my mind as old knots untangled themselves and I was left with the freedom to rewire thought processes that had told me I was incapable. Truth came flooding in along with empowerment to solve problems and offer solutions myself, instead of waiting for others to tell me what to do.
In the past when I faced a problem, I had this habit of asking for advice from close friends and mentors before I even stopped to consider solving it myself. I told myself I was relying on the advice of those who had much more wisdom than I, and in some ways I was. It’s never a bad idea to ask for advice or seek wisdom from a trusted source, but I had taken it too far. I had been afraid to figure out a solution on my own, so I relied heavily on them to problem solve for me.
When you ask for advice, you’re asking that person to sift through their records of lessons learned and mistakes made – it’s valuable, but it’s not the be all end all. You gotta follow your gut.
So off I went, drunk on empowerment and asking myself, “what are you going to do to solve this problem?”
The fourth and final lesson (so far) was an unexpected one as it tiptoed into my heart where compassion took root and grew. The thought that no one has anything figured out, changed the way I saw people and their behaviors. I discovered a new tenderness and appreciation for others as I realized that a lot of us really are doing the best we can in any given circumstance.
I began making a conscious effort to look people in the eyes when I ask how they’re doing, and then really listen to the answer. This new found self awareness in myself also made me more aware of others and their needs as human beings. I’m quicker to offer empathy, and slower to dole out judgment.
At the end of the day, we’re all just figuring it out as we go along. We go through life learning from mistakes and collecting experiences that make up who we are. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you’re at a crossroads and not sure which way to go, or maybe you feel totally lost in general.
Take a breath, remind yourself that there’s more than one way to get to where you want to go and that no one knows what the fuck they’re doing anyway.
You’re gonna figure it out and be just fine.