Today I want to talk about finding your direction. Now, finding your direction doesn’t have to be the big scary mammoth of a task that it’s made out to be, but it’s okay to feel anxious about the concept. For so much of life we are pressured and questioned about what we want to be and how we are going to get there- it can be super overwhelming! The choices we face as we grow can be endless, from whether its a decision to play a sport or learn an instrument, or choosing classes to take in high school and then deciding what to study from there onward (or whether to study at all!). Whether we want to get a house or travel, to have a baby or live child-free, there are so many different paths we can take in life, and each journey will look totally different for each person, but much of the time, the anxiety that follows these decisions looks much the same.
I think that we are so often paralysed with fear over whether we will make the right choice, whether we will ‘waste’ our time/money/effort, and whether we will be filled with regret. This is such a dangerous trap. It is the evidence of our overworked brain firing up, triggering our anxiety, doing its very best to protect us from this imagined future, from this invisible monster that will apparently erode our happiness due to failure. I’m here to tell you that if you obey the monster that is anxiety, you will miss so many opportunities to grow. Your whole life may pass you by, opportunities slipping through your fingers constantly due to an inability to grasp it and hold on for dear life. Consider what you would regret more as life comes to a close- the opportunities you did take or the ones that you didn’t?
I’m going to get a little bit fact-y here, and talk about the nature of this anxiety. Back in yesteryear when we were faced with actual life-or-death situations on the daily (eg. a bear wanders into your cavemans cave looking for a human sized snack/you find out that your neighbour has the black plague and suddenly that pimple is really starting to feel like a boil and god dammit maybe it’s all over red rover) . Fast forward to today, a society in which social media is rampant, and we feel incredibly watched and judged so much of the time based on what we wear, what we say, and who we love. The onslaught of judgement and the plethora of platforms for people to perpetuate this judgement is basically the emotional equivalent of being faced with a big bad bear, all day, every day. Anxiety is an epidemic, there is no doubt about it, and it is so important to tackle this issue head on through either (or a combination of) professional counselling, medication, mindfulness, being a part of positive social groups, and deconstructing the monster for yourself (and realising that in reality, it is a scared little puppy very convincingly disguised as a basilisk).
One of the biggest challenges I’ve heard people discuss in terms of finding their path is the conflicting ideas about whether furthering their education is essential and/or worth it. My mum has always said that no education is a waste, and this is something that I have found to be completely true. I think that furthering your knowledge and skill base is purely investing in yourself, and can only bring positive outcomes. Now this doesn’t mean having to go to university or tafe, it can also mean taking short courses in a language, in cooking, in pottery, art, sport, or whatever makes you curious! An awesome website I got onto last year was Udemy, and they have courses on a huge variety of subjects that are often only $10. You can complete the course and access the information from it as often as you like, and it can open some doors to start exploring what interests you. I did a Reiki course through this site and loved it, and although it may never become a ‘practical’ part of my life or career, it was so interesting to learn about and provided me with a catalyst to further my connection with both myself and others. Another thing I tried late last year was a free acting class back in Perth. I had honestly had the webpage bookmarked for over a year, and I kept looking at it and then deciding not to try it because I was purely terrified to so something so new, and something that would make me so vulnerable in a group full of strangers. But then I decided that I could not let this fear rule me. I would not let all of the ‘could-be’s’ stop me from trying something that sparked my interest. So I turned my anxiety into determination, it was almost like being in competition with myself. I was not chickening out, so my anxiety would have to take a seat because if it really wanted what was best for me, it would push me to do my best in that situation. Of course this still didn’t stop me from feeling insanely nervous. So I fearfully signed up for the class, reluctantly drove to the school, basically shuffled to the studio, and sat myself down in a group of strangers. And you know what? It was freaking amazing. And empowering. And fun. Whether you are interested in acting or not, I really recommend you give this a go because in terms of confidence and self esteem, it is so powerful. To be in a space that is judgement free, and allows you to explore a new avenue of creativity is such a precious gift, and an incredible demonstration of how a step of bravery can help you to recognise and conquer some of those irrational fears.
All of these steps (I wont call them little steps, because they honestly feel huge), are a sure-fire way to discover where you want to be and what you want to be doing. I want you to stop and go inwards, identify your core goals, values and passions. What do you love to do? What excites you and challenges you? What would you do if fear had nothing to do with it? Now realise that you can do all of these things. Heck, you SHOULD do all of these things! These precious gems of growth are making themselves known to you, and you just need to have the courage to pick them up! Living by your core dreams is the only way to live authentically, and I promise you that by starting small and working your way up to these goals will put you on the right path. It’s just a matter of identifying them, breaking them down into steps, plans, and activities, and then starting. And please remember that every ‘failure’ is just a stepping stone that brings you closer to success.
Speaking of bravery and that incredible ability to overcome fear and anxiety, I want to give a big shout-out to my amazing sister who wrote her first blog yesterday! Her writing gave an incredible insight into her health and confidence struggles, and how she powers through with her attitude towards goal setting and the passion she has for her job as a teacher. Please check it out if you get the chance: https://embitterdrummer69.wixsite.com/whittle/single-post/2018/05/27/My-First-Go-at-a-Blog
Big love to my big sis, you inspire me every day!
All in all, I want people to understand that they are in the drivers seat of their lives. We can both dislike and also have respect for our anxietites, in knowing that they are simply trying to do their job and are responding to the overwhelming craziness of this world. But anxiety is only allowed to be a passenger, it is not allowed to hold the wheel. YOU are in control. So take a step, make a plan, and live in accordance with what’s in your head and your heart. You can only ever do your best, and if you are doing that, regret has no room to grow. That one can be left out of the car entirely.
Mentioned website links!
If you are having trouble with anixety please check out the following sites, and know that seeking help is so dang brave, I can’t even explain to you how much courage it takes. You are AMAZING!