I feel so frustrated.
I hate that I have this feeling inside, the feeling that “I wasn’t supposed to be here. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
I’m 33 years old now. When I was 18, I thought people who were in their thirties were absolutely ancient, but now that I’m in my thirties I don’t see it quite like that. I know I’m not really old. I know that and yet I feel like I lost a lifetime.
I feel like I lost a lifetime in the sense that nothing in my life was the way I wanted it – I have achieved nothing, not even happiness.
I know that it’s not that simple. I know, in my head, that time cannot be lost. I have grown, loved, cried, explored strange places, tasted delicious food and seen the most beautiful sights… yet, my heart feels this loss deeply.
The loss of the life “I was supposed to live” but didn’t get to.
Why does my heart not understand that I have lived a life that should be treasured? Even though it was a life much harder and more painful than it needed to be, it was my life. My precious life.
I am grateful for this silly life of mine, which is the reason I feel so frustrated with my own heart. I had no idea that this feeling would come, this sense of loss.
Sometimes, I think about what my life would be had I been neurotypical. Sure, I don’t doubt it would have been easier, but I also know I would probably not have been happier.
Maybe it’s the increasing grey in my hair, maybe it’s the old person sounds I make when I get up or sit down, maybe it’s the fact that soon the choice of whether or not I have children will no longer be mine to make, maybe it’s because people around me are getting married and having children, maybe it’s some other reason I haven’t found yet. I am not sure.
A while back I read this article, I can’t remember where, about how people re-evaluate their life situation around the time they turn 20, 30, 40, 50 and so on. I was always a bit slow, I think, so maybe I’m just starting now.
It could also just be that the life I wanted is now completely and utterly impossible. It should have already happened, but it didn’t.
Sometimes, letting go of dreams can be more painful than failing the pursuit of them. Or, is it always worse? I guess it doesn’t matter, whichever one we choose is going to hurt, right?
Every time we make a choice, we probably think we know the results of that particular choice, but sometimes the consequences are impossible to predict. Occasionally, we end up regretting something we said or did. Some of us, myself included, tend to say things without thinking first and that is a great way of getting into trouble.
Honestly, I think my mouth simply moves at the same time as my mind and thus, often I find myself halfway through a sentence before realising it really wasn’t the right thing to say. It’s not always things we say, though, sometimes it’s things we do as well.
We make bad choices. Why are they bad choices? We might have assumed it was the best thing to do or say, but the consequences are… bad. Perhaps, we didn’t think things through or maybe we did something knowing the result would be bad. We make bad choices for many different reasons.
Bad choices rarely lead to good outcomes – if they did, then obviously they wouldn’t be bad choices.
They would be good.
So, when we make bad choices, sometimes we end up making even more bad choices. It can start small; some things barely seem bad at all. Arguably, it could even be good.
The next time we come across something that’s only a little bit worse, barely worse, we might make that choice.
Before we know it, the barely bad choices are so far behind us we can’t even remember what they used to be.
Then we start to make a lot of bad choices. We get used to it. We don’t even think about it anymore. It’s like good choices were never possible at all.
If we do this for long enough, we leave all possibilities of making different choices behind us. If we are unlucky, perhaps forever.
Now, don’t go saying I’m pessimistic. I’m not, at least not in this case. First, listen to what I have to say.
When we finally see where all of our shitty choices have taken us and we understand that before us are nothing but the consequences of our own actions – the consequences being even more shitty choices – then we can do three things.
One thing, however, I think can be almost dangerous because it may numb us and trap us in a cage of our own making. If we refuse to take responsibility and simply insist that there must be better choices, good choices, we can find them if we search long enough. If we do that, then we risk never changing, never growing and thus, never finding ourselves in a better situation. We end up spending all our times refusing to acknowledge the situation we’ve put ourselves in but tell ourselves to be optimistic and find a better way out. When we don’t acknowledge our bad choices, we don’t take responsibility for our lives then we can’t make true change.
I’m not saying you should blame yourself, we should never blame ourselves or anyone else – blaming is simply a way to avoid taking responsibility.
Taking responsibility is not about blame, it’s about making lasting change in our lives. It’s about acknowledging our circumstances and how we got here, so that we can change those aspects of our lives that we no longer need or want.
We have to acknowledge the truth about ourselves or our life situation if we ever want to change it.
It’s also possible, however, that we see all those bad choices and that we clearly see we only have bad choices ahead. If we do that, it leaves us the last two options.
This brings us to the second of the three.
We see only shitty choices ahead and behind us and because we don’t want to make more bad choices, we feel stuck. We feel trapped by our life choices and sad that so much time has been wasted. Maybe we get depressed because we feel nothing will ever change. We end up surviving each day, but never truly be alive.
You might think this sounds like the worst option, but actually I think this is still better than the first because at least we recognise our situation. All it takes is for us to accept and then we can start doing something about our life. When we refuse to acknowledge our past choices or that we only have shitty choices in front of us, then we have a more challenging and longer path ahead of us because we can’t simply accept.
I say simply accept, but we all know that acceptance is not easy.
If we accept, then the third thing we can do in this situation is what can truly bring us change.
When we acknowledge our past choices and the choices ahead of us and we have accepted it we can truly take responsibility.
What do I mean by that?
I mean we can finally start taking action and changing our situation.
We need to make choices. We need to grow. We need to let go of what we no longer need or want.
So, we have to make a shitty choice. Sure, you and I both know, if you’ve ever been in my kind of situation, that no matter what you choose it doesn’t matter. Make a choice anyways. You have to keep moving forward and making choices, but you need to recognise that they are shitty choices. If you don’t, you won’t ever recognise a less bad choice if you see it.
Because, as long as we keep moving forward, there is a chance that we might find a choice slightly less bad than all our other choices. When that happens, we need to make that choice. If we are lucky, something a bit less shitty is on the other side. Maybe it won’t be, but that doesn’t matter. We still made progress.
It’s hard work, but little by little, choice by choice, we might end up in a better situation.
We need to accept, however, that things might never change. Maybe, the rest of our lives will be spent searching for better choices and perhaps, we might never find them. We need to accept that and still keep going, because it won’t necessarily be easy to get better. We need to understand the choices we have made, because we need to never make choices like that again.
We made our choices in the past for a reason, they were our choices. If we don’t acknowledge and accept the choices we made and the reasons we did so, we will probably make the same kind of choices in the future. Maybe not the same exactly, but very similar ones. And remember, those choices were what got us here in the first place.
Did you already notice?
This isn’t really a post about three things we can do if we have made a series of very bad choices and somehow ended up in a bad place. This is a post about the three stages to change that situation.
It can seem impossible to keep going when all we have is bad choices, both behind us and in front of us, but if we don’t we are in the worst possible situation – we are stuck in a mess of shitty choices.
When we keep going, choice after choice, after having acknowledged and accepted our situation, we are taking responsibility for our life and our circumstances and then we at least have a chance of a better future. The fact that we are taking responsibility and trying to change our life, even if everything is shitty around you, that, my friend, is the first good choice we made in a long time.
It’s a great choice, actually. Let’s call it the first of many.