when the road curves into the woods and we can’t see what’s next…

not long ago, someone asked me to write a post about career paths that don’t happen as planned. when they’re twisty and curvy and nonlinear. when it doesn’t go from A to B to C in a simple, planned fashion.

our world likes to move in a straight line, and when the path ends up being a little more unclear it’s unsettling. we’re told that if we go to college and get the degree there will be a job waiting for us like a pot of gold. we’re led to believe that life just falls into place in this way, and it’s even more frustrating to see that it does, indeed, happen for some just so. we’re left feeling agitated, comparing ourselves to others and sifting through our psyche to find what the heck the problem could be. we determine that something, indeed, must be wrong.

fret not. there’s nothing wrong with you, and in fact, this time in your life might be just the lesson you’re needing to learn. of course, in the midst of a job search and potential financial stress, it doesn’t feel like an ‘opportunity.’ no. it feels like a setback, a punishment from the universe. but really, it is a good thing.

why? because you’re learning that life isn’t pretty. you’re learning that the path moves differently for different people. to experience hardship can shape you in ways that getting things easily just don’t. i know it’s frustrating when you just want to get on with life and it seems to have chosen stagnation instead. thats’s the ego getting caught in the trap of constant movement, in the belief that if things aren’t happening then…well, things aren’t happening.

but, try to shift your focus and view this situation from a different lens. where’s the window? do you have some more time to yourself before having to be at a job right now? this can be a great time to get to know yourself better. to see where your mind goes when it doesn’t get what it wants (which will happen repeatedly as you continue to grow, i can promise you that) can be quite illuminating. and to learn to work with that now is truly a gift.

one of the best realizations i’ve ever had is this:

there aren’t any rules.

no rules! yes, there are the standards of human decency and laws we must follow. but, it’s not a law that you must be in your career fresh out of school. it’s not a law that you must be married with a kid by 30. these ‘rules’ were created by a society and it preys on our need to belong. to break the ‘rules’ triggers our fear of not being accepted. it challenges our self worth, but that’s mainly because we’ve made our self worth dependent on our accomplishments.

so, with that, i will remind you: there aren’t any rules. consider what you’re learning right now as life unfolds in ways you hadn’t predicted. you might want to throw a chair through the window you’re that frustrated, but once that rage and impatience and fear subsides, consider the lesson. because these lessons comprise the foundation of adulthood. and a solid foundation, while hard to come by at times, is the ground upon which your life is built.

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