Have you ever tried to type “therapists near me” into google while you were violently crying? Have you gone to the gym for the 2nd time that day and stared at the mirror at the body that you still hate so much? Have you gone to the 4th Meetup.com event that week feeling anxious and awkward and just wanting to leave even though you know this is your best bet to meet some new friends and not be alone so much?
Those all happened to me time and time again. They were dark times, painful times, and honestly hopeless times. Times that I was putting in so much work. I was breaking my back rowing my little boat away from the waterfall, but it just kept getting closer and closer. I could not have been pouring more effort and strain and energy into trying to get better, to feel better, to create a better life. I was giving 1000%. Forget working when you don’t feel like it, I was working when it made me sick and working so hard my body was breaking down with stress and overuse injuries.
All of that work wasn’t enough. The results were not coming. It’s like I was doing chest compressions on my own body, trying so hard and cracking ribs and hoping for a miracle while the flatline blared deafeningly from the machine. Sometimes you can do your absolute best and it’s not good enough. Or at least that’s how it feels in the moment.
I wish I could reach through time and shake sense into that deeply upset and hopeless me. Don’t you know these things take time?? Of course these therapists can help you like they’ve helped others. Of course eating right and all this exercise will make you fit. Of course you will make friends at these meetups, everyone else is there for the same reason you are!
I was so wrapped up in crucifying myself that I couldn’t see I was doing everything right. Each day I was watering the seed of the future I wanted so badly, but seeing myself as a failure because I wasn’t “done.” If a runner is 20 miles into a marathon, their coach should say “You’re doing exactly what you need to do, keep it up you’re almost there.” I was telling myself “You are a failure until you’ve run 26.2 miles.”
Some goals simply take time, and it’s time we can’t get back. You can’t wait for the finishline to enjoy life. Does any part of this story sound like your story? Are you putting in tons of work and trying to claw your way to your goal? Does your goal look impossibly far away? Then I’m writing this to the past version of myself, because I really wish someone could have said this to me.
You are opening so many doors for yourself right now that you cannot see.
You are making so much invisible progress that you’ll be grateful for later. This hard work you are doing is so much more than the one goal you have in mind. You are cultivating discipline, focus, and a wide array of skills that can be used in many places.
There were Meetups I only went to once because I made friends and started seeing them outside of official events. Still, getting myself out of the house to go to that first event was a critical part of bringing them into my life. I studied for months to prepare for job interviews that I bombed. But the things I learned studying have catapulted my career in ways I could not have expected. And books I bought to learn about one skill introduced me to other books that completely changed my worldview and how I view relationships. If you did your best then today was a critical step towards doors you can’t see yet. Find peace in that.
You cannot predict what trees will grow from each seed you plant.
You cannot guess how soon a tree will grow and saying vicious things to yourself will not make it grow faster. If you are doing your best then showing yourself anything but kindness is just going to delay when you get where you’re going. You are all you have. If you’re doing your best then you don’t deserve to be yelled at by anyone, including you.
You can’t always choose how you feel. But you can choose how you act.
So don’t punish yourself for negative feelings. Take pride in making decisions that get you closer to your goals. It might take time for that seed to grow. But every single day that you water it you’re growing into a better person. Maybe you’re not growing into the person you initially expected to become, but you’ve made so much progress from where you started.
You know what the right thing to do is even if the finish line is so far away. Please be kind to yourself. Please stop whipping the person rowing the boat. They are doing the best they can, and they are you.
Further Reading: If this post resonated with you then I highly recommend reading Awareness by Anthony De Mello. Everyone I know who has read it has said it gave them more peace and relieved significant anxiety, myself included. When you chase big goals and get stretched thin, this is a good book to balance your perspective. Your actions are already planting the right seeds. Let’s stop screaming ourselves hoarse for them to grow faster.