Life is not perfect; in fact it’s far from it. Life is beautiful and exciting, but it is also messy and complicated. We are brought into this world a blank slate and molded by our caregivers, or lack there of in some cases. As young boys and girls we fantasize about our futures and where our lives will lead…And then we grow up and more times than not the fantasy fades and reality sets in.
The fantasies we have as children don’t typically include bills, heartache, death, traumatic moments, and other scenarios of the sort. In our fantasies and daydreams everything seems to come easy. In the real world achieving these fantasies takes work and it is often easy to be side tracked by life. Sure we are often told as children “if you work hard you can have anything you want” and in many instances that statement is true, but in our minds the work seems much easier than in reality.
As a therapist I see many young adults come to this realization that life is not always how you picture it as a child, or teen. I coin this the ‘quarter life crisis’. This crisis typically happens between the ages of 23 – 26. During this time we are typically finished with college and working some form of an entry-level job, or we are seeking employment with our shiny new degree. Along with this we are struggling with the internal battle to grow up or remain a care-free college party-animal. Is it possible to have both?
For me it was around 25 that I realized life was going to take work. This type of work was not the type of work I had envisioned. Not only was I going to have to work hard to obtain a degree in order to get a job that would allow me to receive the income I desired to live the lifestyle I had pictured in my fantasies, but my relationships were also going to take a good amount of work. I had, and likely still have, moments were I question my choices and my decisions. But perhaps it’s these moments that provide me with increased insight for where my life is headed and how I can get there.
I was out of college working in a community mental health clinic as a case manager making Bo-ko bucks; that is if you consider $25,000+ Bo-ko. In any case it was better than retail, but in reality this was not where I expected to be as a young college grade approaching my mid-twenties. Where was the house, the nice cars, the expensive clothes, the top shelf drinks? Oh right, I went to school for psychology…BUBBLE OFFICIALLY POPPED!
What was I to do? I wasn’t warned of this during my Undergraduate Degree program. I thought being a college graduate meant life was handed to me along with keys the keys to the kingdom. I sure was wrong, but this did not have to be my end game! I could have looked at this as defeat and gave up. Instead I embraced my job and assessed the situation and determined how I could best benefit. What I knew was: 1. I was good at my job. 2. I wanted to make more money. 3. I was not going to give up on achieving greatness.
Did I mention aside from all of this career stress I was getting out of a relationship, living on my own for the first time, and coming out of the closet? It would have been very easy to throw my hands up and surrender. In fact, many time I wanted to. Where was the guide-book for all this (trust me there was no Dummies: For Adulthood book; I checked). Life felt grim at the time and it was definitely far from my idea of PERFECT.
Next comes the hard part…EMBRACE the imperfections. Look at them. Define your mistakes. Recognize where you fell down. And remember it’s not all bad; there are moments of good even when it feels like you’re trapped in a shit-storm. What did you learn? Where can you go from here? There is perfection in the Imperfection! Don’t let the defeat destroy you. Barriers are a part of life and if you don’t embrace them and learn than they will defeat you.
I guess you’re wondering what I did next. I navigated my way through the mental health field, went back to school and achieved my Master’s Degree in Clinical-Counseling Psychology. This lead me to where I am today, an outpatient Therapist. The journey doesn’t end here. I have a few years under my belt as a Therapist and I am in the process of re-assessing my career and looking to see where I can go from here. I have still not achieved that fantasy I had when I was a much younger man, but I’ve learned that this is OK as long embrace enjoy the ride!
Embrace the messy because it is party of the journey. Putting all your energy into the negative that comes with life will only bring you down and trap you. Look for that silver lining, I promise you it exists…
If you’re ever gonna find a silver lining
It’s gotta be a cloudy day
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to share your comments or ask me any questions. And as always follow my blog to keep up to date with my journey! I am also on Twitter at @MikePH_82 and Instragram @Mikeph82.