How is it life can seem like it’s moving faster and faster, while simultaneously feeling like nothing is moving at all?
Over the next week and a half, I have three appointments, eight zoom meetings, three full days of work, two days of a vendor event, two blog posts to write and publish (including this one), one birthday dinner to attend, and one nail polish business to close out. I honestly do not know how I’m going to keep track of it all – and it just seems to keep growing.
Some are obviously professional, some are social, some are just my own artistic projects and things I’m doing for fun. But it’s still SO. MUCH. I don’t know how I’m going to keep track of them all…
But for some reason, I look at all of that and wonder, “Where am I going?”
With all of these wheels suddenly turning, where are all of these things taking me?
Perhaps that sounds mean or unfair, like I’m writing off all of those people and opportunities as meaningless if they don’t provide a means to an end. And that’s not at all what they are to me. These meetings and projects are all so important to me, and I appreciate them for what they are right now.
But I’m a human being, and I believe that human beings are intrinsically motivated to grow and move; yet I’m stuck, feeling increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied with where my life is right now.
And unfortunately, if this past year has taught me one thing, it’s that no matter how hard I try, no matter how many meetings I have or job applications I put in or posts I write, I can’t move my life forward. I have been spinning my wheels for over a year now, and have gotten nowhere.
Where’s the joy in doing these things if I’m not where I want to be, and if there is zero indication that I’m even moving in the right direction?
… … …
One year ago, exactly, I was planning my move to NYC, ready and eager to jump into my new adventure, the adventure I had been waiting half my life for.
Eleven months ago, the COVID quarantine began…which threw a bit of a wrench into my plans.
Eight months ago, I gave up those plans entirely. I left NYC and eventually made my way back to Ohio.
Even when I gave up my grand plans and left NYC, the one thing I held onto was the steadfast belief that I would be back because that’s where I knew in my heart of hearts that I was meant to be.
But as the months have passed, I’ve felt increasingly trapped. The few attempts I made to keep moving forward were unsuccessful, and I didn’t know what to do. The opportunities to try to make things work in New York just weren’t there. So many people tried to reassure me that “this, too, shall pass” and advised me to wait it out.
“And do what?” I wondered. “Nothing?”
I fully understand where those friends and family members were coming from – they wanted to affirm that the present circumstances were beyond my control, and my seeming inability to get a job and establish myself in NYC were certainly not the result of some moral failure on my part. We were (and still are) in an unprecedented pandemic, and no part of any of this was (is) within my control.
But sitting back and waiting things out has never been in my nature (as evidenced by my laundry list of to-dos above).
So I persisted.
I kept applying for jobs. I kept trying different ways to finance my way back to NYC. I kept meeting and connecting with more people. I just…kept going.
And all the while, I tried to keep my chin up, stay optimistic, and truly enjoy whatever life had to offer me in the interim.
But the more I persisted and the more I tried…well…I suppose I can’t really say that the more I persisted and tried, the more stuck I became, because that’s not really what happened; rather, the more I persisted and tried, the more obvious it became that I was still stuck and that I couldn’t control it.
… … …
I am a spiritual person – I believe that there are universal powers and beings beyond my awareness and understanding that have far more control over this world than I will ever have. In the grand scheme of life, I can do almost nothing. The American notion of “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” is garbage (for more reasons than one, but this is not the post to discuss my feelings on the American Dream); no amount of grit and grind on my end is going to build me the life I want because I’m not the architect.
So…why was I trying so hard? Why was I exerting such effort in the face of circumstances beyond my control? Why was I working so hard when I knew that if/when/how I got back to NYC never was, and never will be, up to me?
… … …
My mom used to tell me that Prince Charming wasn’t going to ride up on a white horse and ring the doorbell; how could I expect to date if I never actually put myself in situations where I could meet people?
And she was right. In my undergrad days, I spent all of my time in class, at work, and in the theatre. I never went out to meet new people, I refused to use dating apps, and I couldn’t seem to work up the courage to talk to new people in my day-to-day routines. How could I possibly expect to ever date and find a romantic partner that way?
So, I never dated in undergrad, primarily because I never put in the effort needed on my end to make dating a possibility.
It took me a few years of wrestling with that (because, as an angsty young adult, I didn’t exactly like the notion of being told that I “expected” a romantic relationship to fall into my lap), but I finally came to understand what my mom meant and admitted to myself that she was right. I couldn’t put in zero effort and expect God to hand-deliver the things I wanted in life to my front door whenever the “timing is right.”
I may be new to the whole Christianity/spirituality thing, but in my experience, that’s not how it works.
So clearly, my attempts to do nothing and wait it out in the romance department were less than successful…
But, as I mentioned a few sections back, busting my butt and exerting my own effort into getting where I want to be hasn’t seem to work out, either, because I’m not the one in charge of all matters universe-related.
So…which is it? Wait it out, or work it out?
Or, if neither, then what?
Well, if it’s not one or the other, then it has to be…
Yeah you smart cookies probably figured that one out before I even got there! ;)
It has to be a balance between the two.
God is God, who can do whatever they want, whenever they so choose, with zero action or input from me.
But as we already established earlier, divine movement with zero action on my end is rarely how God works.
My experience has taught me that divine movement coincides with steps (or actions) of faith on my part – after all, how can I keep moving down the path God has in mind for me if I never actually, ya know, take a step.
Therefore, I cannot sit around doing nothing because it takes faith in action to see growth and forward movement; however, that faith in action must come with that recognition that it’s not my actions that ‘earn’ or ‘prove’ or ‘build’ my life.
So, for a real-life example, this is how the balance looks right now for me:
Getting a job is crucial to being able to move out of my parents’ house and back out on my own. But I can’t get a job if I don’t apply to job openings – no one’s going to call me up out of the blue and offer me something while I’m sitting in my house playing Mario Kart. Faith in action is researching jobs and applying for openings, knowing that God controls when I will get hired. That might be two weeks from now, or four months from now, or three years from now.
Easier said than done, though, right?
… … …
Clearly, I’ve been keeping myself in action and staying busy, considering my packed schedule for the next ten days or so. I continue to keep going, trusting in powers greater than myself that my efforts will be blessed eventually.
But just because I do my best to trust the God I believe in to direct my steps and to bless my efforts in the right divine timing, doesn’t mean that I feel at peace all the time.
In fact, I feel frustrated and stressed pretty much every day anymore.
Because no matter how much I try to trust and appreciate and remember, and no matter how much I remind myself that no one – not even God – owes me anything, I still can’t help but feel angry that I’ve spun my wheels for so long, with zero evidence of any kind of movement. The stuck-ness is getting to me, and I’m dealing with some very human feelings about it.
But it’s okay for me to feel frustrated and angry and stressed and upset, even when I know that I can’t see the whole picture, nor can I understand the intricacies and complexities of this world and beyond.
None of this is up to me, but I’m still the one living in it. I can sit in the peace and wisdom of knowing there is a balance between faith in action and divine movement, and I can feel some kind of way about my experience of it.
I can feel gratitude for the connections in my life right now, and I can feel frustrated and dissatisfied and agitated. None of those feelings discount the others. And certainly none of those feelings discount the people and opportunities I have in my life now.
None of the things I do are a means to an end – all of the writing, all of the meetings, all of the people I see and the things I do and the time I spend – all of it has meaning to me right now.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I haven’t started to wonder what the point is in me doing all of these things, if I never bear the fruits of my labor in my own life. When does my patience pay off? When will I see the results of my efforts, of that faith in action?
I’m tired of spinning. I’m tired of continuing to knock on locked doors – my hand hurts from it. I’m tired of continuing to step out in faith and trusting that this path will lead to the desires of my heart, only to keep standing in the same spot day after day.
It’s exhausting. It’s infuriating. And yet, I just have to keep believing that one day, a door will open, and I’ll get to step through.
Otherwise, there is nothing else.
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