By Maria T. – A few years ago I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in two years. She had so much news to tell me. She had moved country a year before and started a new job. Then she had met a new partner, bought a house, and it looked like she is going to get a promotion. That’s the short version; it took her nearly an hour to explain all of the news in her life. And I was really happy for her, honestly. But then she asked me about my news, and I realised: I didn’t have any. In that split second, my first thought was “Is my life stuck?”.
It dawned on me that in the previous two years, nothing had happened to me. I was just going to work every day to the same job, no promotion, no new partner, no exciting moves abroad or to a new city. And I can’t lie, in that moment I felt kind of down. Here was this person in front of me talking about her incredibly exciting life and I didn’t have anything similar going on in mine. And for a little while after that, I actually felt kind of depressed.
It took some time before I realised that I was making a mistake. My mistake wasn’t that I didn’t have a new job, or moving country, or didn’t have a new partner. My mistake was that I thought all of that was a bad thing. By changing my thinking, I got a much better handle on my stress levels.
I don’t think the question should be whether or not things in your life are changing. The question should be “do you want them to change?” And if you do want them to change, how can you change them? I became a lot more comfortable with what I previously thought was me being stuck once I asked myself these questions.
You see, when I asked myself if I wanted my job to change, I realised that I was actually quite good at my job. I remembered that years ago I had worked hard to get that job, and that if I switched jobs it would actually make the rest of my life complicated in a way I did not want at the time. But I also realised that I wanted to feel like I was getting even better in my job, so I enrolled in a new business course to upgrade my skills. That really made me feel like I was growing in my work, even if I wasn’t looking for a promotion.
Then when I asked myself if I wanted my social life to change, I realised that I actually did. I wanted to meet new people and try new things. But I also realised that I did not want anything too serious, nothing too life-changing. So I asked myself how I could do this. It turns out, it’s actually really easy to start a new hobby, and through new hobbies you just naturally meet new people.
Finally, I asked myself if I wanted a new partner. The answer was yes, but I also decided I wanted that to come naturally. Some things in life should just happen if they are supposed to happen, and if they don’t happen that’s fine. Some things are in our control, and some don’t have to be. I think acknowledging this is great for mental health, but that’s just my opinion.
Find what works for you in your life, love what you love, change what you can, and leave the rest. It’s a really great formula, I think.