Years ago, after being put in bed to sleep, a child stared up at the glowing stars on the ceiling of the room. There would be no sleep for the child. His brain was too busy imagining all the possibilities the world had to offer. She could not keep track of her thoughts; she would think of the absolute perfect scenario only for her mind to wander off to a better place moments later.
“I want to be a black belt pilot cook.”
“I’ll be the first mermaid writer president ever.”
Wishes were made to stars on ceilings, stars made real by the sheer power of imagination. Finally, the child fell asleep and journeyed into a world where scenarios that were even more impossible became reality.
Then you woke up. I woke up.
We wake up to reality.
There is a sudden and frightening realization. You are not that child anymore. You are what people consider to be a grown up. You have a job, but there is only one problem. You hate it. That’s fine because you can still go out with your friends and have a great time, but it’s in crowds where you feel most alone now. Well at least you have your writing, dancing, drawing, training, sculpting…oh wait, you stopped doing that too. There will always be your family, but you sadly no longer have anything to talk to them about.
Days pass through your fingers like grains of sand. Life becomes a chore. Yeah it could be worse, much worse, but what hurts is that it could also be better, so much better.
You are now on auto-pilot; surviving, not living. You feel paralyzed. Everyday you say tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow comes and nothing happens. Countless false dawns later you try to numb yourself and accept the fact that this is life. Not many people you know are truly happy, so why should you be?
Still, the nagging sensation does not disappear. That feeling that something isn't right, that something is missing persists. There is an emptiness. You try to find distractions to keep you from facing it. You try desperately to have great weekends, you “fall in love” ridiculously easily, pick up new hobbies only to drop them as quickly as you picked them up, and watch endless Ted Talks. You attempt to convince yourself that you are trying, that you are changing. But you are not.
This is not what you expected. The funny thing with expectations is that they are usually the furthest thing from reality. I know mine are, and that proves to be extremely difficult to deal with. This is not where you thought you would be. This is not the life you were supposed to lead.
If you have ever felt this way before, or are feeling this way now, then rest assured that it is only proof that you are human. Everyone gets these feelings from time to time. We all feel lost, alone, empty, restless, impatient, or incompetent at one point or another.
Everyone is struggling. Everyone feels pain. There is absolutely no shame in that. People just have different ways of showing it or dealing with it. Look around you when you walk down the street, look around you when you are with your friends, family, or in the office. Look at the people’s faces. They all have their own worries, fears, pain, hopes, and dreams.
We all suffer.
It may sound a bit selfish, but it is a relief to know that you are not the only one going through this. They might not admit it, but they are with you.
I am with you.
And I am here to remind you of what you already know but have chosen to bury deep inside of yourself, what I myself at times have tried to forget.
That there must be more to all of this. That this cannot be what life is about. The world will never be perfect, but there is magic out there. There is adventure to be had. There is true happiness to be found.
I feel this now just as I felt it when I was a child wishing upon a star.
If only we could figure it all out, if only we could understand what we want, if only we could be what we always dreamed of. If only we could change.
We can. It’s as simple and plain as that, we can. I know you've heard it a million times before and probably reacted just as I would, with a sarcastic laugh and a shake of the head. It’s just not that easy.
Of course it’s not. It might actually be the hardest thing you've ever done.
We need to face that which we all share. Our fears. Our flaws. Our expectations. Our ways of thinking, sense of entitlement, laziness. Our comfort zones. Ourselves.
We have to take a step back and think about ourselves and the world around us. Where are we now? Where do we fit into all of this? Where do we want to be? How can we realistically reach our goals? How can we ensure that this time it will be different?
Think. Be brutally honest with yourself.
Plan. Always write everything down.
Share. Confide in those you love and trust.
Take it step by step. Slow and steady wins the race.
Movement is key.
No matter how hard it gets, or how lazy you are, or how aimless it all feels, do not stop moving. You can watch that show later, have lunch with your friends another time, your Instagram feed can wait, you will survive if you do not go out tonight, and you can be tired later, not now, because this must be done.
You have thought thoroughly, planned meticulously, you have those you love on your side. Now you must move.
You must also believe. Never stop believing. The moment you stop believing all is lost.
I know it’s hard, but you have to truly believe that you can do it. You are solely responsible for your life. You can either be your own prison, or your ticket to freedom. Believe in yourself and take responsibility. You owe it to the dreaming child of so many nights ago; to the child that still exists inside of you and refuses to stop dreaming. That child believes in you.
I believe in you.
If you are reading this know that there is a kindness, beauty, and strength in you that you yourself do not know exists. I say this without a shred of doubt simply because if you are reading this then you are human. We are human.
There is so much more to you than meets the eye, even your own. The challenge is to unearth that “so much more”.
Never forget that every single atom in your body was formed in the core of a star billions of years go.
There is a universe, inside of you and out, waiting to be discovered.
It won’t be easy, this journey. Nothing of substantial worth has ever come easily.
Take my hand.
Feel it tremble.
I am just as terrified as you.
You are not alone.
Yes you have your own path and I have mine, but luckily, at least for this moment, our paths intertwine.
Breath in deeply and put your foot out in front of you. Take that first step forward.
We can do it.