Life is uncertain. Life is not about checking off your bucket list.
Most items on that list are not yours anyway. Somebody told you "If you do this, you'll feel fulfilled." And your life is not a Facebook timeline with preset events, like "At 25, you'll find your soulmate. At 28, you'll marry. At 30, you'll have your first child. At 32, you'll become a millionaire."
In two weeks I'll turn 30. So far my life has been more like a doodle rather than a straight line. Let's recap.
I have no career. A year ago, I left my "promising" career as a physicist. After seven years of investing all my time and money, I didn't like my field of study anymore. I attempted to enter a different academic field, because I didn't want to "Throw it all away" or disappoint my parents.
After I had filled out my PhD application, I realized how stupid this is. "I'm done with academics." I said to myself and threw the papers into the trash can. After about a year of experimenting, I started to feel a vocation to write books and teach people online. It seemed to be aligned with my natural talents and abilities. I've created several online courses that failed and wrote drafts for books I never finished.
Months have gone by and I had nothing to show for. I kept practicing my craft. That nobody was watching my videos didn't matter as I got my joy from the mere process of creating them.
Will it all work out?
One day, I woke up with a title for a book in my imagination. I got out of bed, sat down and started to write a few lines on my yellow notepad. Without thinking about it, my notes that I had been collecting over the past five years started to organize themselves into chapters.
It felt as if something wanted to be born and I was the obstetrician. It didn't matter to me whether anybody would read it, I just had to get it out. Finally, I self-published it. It's called "unlimited freedom: your guide to an awakened life".
Focusing all my time and energy on the book, left me broke in the basement of my parents' house, but did it ruin my life?
I have no girlfriend. There is nobody with whom I could start my own family. I've been single for nearly 8 years and had only one girlfriend in my life. I didn't have sex for 3 years. Lot's of my friends are having babies and getting married. Yet, I don't feel behind and have no desire to hook up with someone on Tinder.
What if I will never find anyone and end up alone?
True love needs no other. True love is in you, and you can't add it to yourself through adding a person to your life. Most people are only in love to get their daily dose of attention and approval. In fact, they are in love with the mental concept of their partner. Whenever they interact with him or her, they interact more with the story in their head than with the other person.
Learn to be alone and you'll never feel lonely. Travel alone. Walk alone. Sleep alone. Eat alone. Sit in darkness alone. It's in the hours and days that you spend alone, where you'll find true love. And you won't find it in a person that comes along, but you'll discover it in yourself.
It is the part in you that never changes. It is the sky behind the thoughts that cloud your senses. The sky is who you really are. Falling in true love is recognizing this sky in the other.
Becoming comfortable with being alone, left me without a partner for 80% of my twenties, but did it ruin my life?
I have no life. I've read in a book that "80% of life's most defining moments take place by the age of 35." My first breakup with the girl I thought I would spend the rest of my life with was very painful. The death of my grandfather was painful. The day I received my Master's degree in Physics and realized that "This is not it" was painful. The day I moved in with my parents', because I had no idea what to do with my life, was painful.
But do these moments define who I am now?
No. They are just bundles of thoughts and emotions that form a story titled "My Life". It's a fiction in my head, nothing real. Part one of that story is titled "My Past". Nothing that ever happened in "My Past", has any morsel of truth that would give me a clue about who I am and what I should do next. And there is part two of that story titled "My Future".
Does "My Future" tell me who I will be with, where I will live, whether I will be happy, whether I'll have a family, whether my marriage will last and whether "My Life" will work out?
I can't be certain. Unlike most people in my age, this doesn't make me anxious, fearful, or feel pressured to figure it all out. Why? Because the content of the story doesn't matter. Whether "My Life" looks as pretty on Facebook as that of everyone else's doesn't matter.
The advice "You're the author of your story - write one you would be proud to tell people from your deathbed" is futile. No matter how great your story is, it will always trap and delude you.
Are you afraid of being ordinary?
If "ordinary" is what everyone else is doing, then you'll become extraordinary the moment you recognize the voice in your head as the narrator of "My Life." Your inner narrator is the one who criticizes you, makes you angry and afraid, tells you that you're inferior to people who have a "greater" story and that your life should look better on Facebook.
What are your interests and talents?
Once the story is gone, your gifts will arise. They have been suppressed and obscured for most of your life. Whenever an activity makes you feel alive, joy, love and peace, you'll find that your inner narrator has become silent. That is the real clue to figure out what you should do. Nothing external can tell you that.
You become what you hear and see, and do everyday only if you're not aware of your inner narrator. You gain control over your life the moment you become aware of your emotions. Your body translates "My Life" into emotions. For your body that fiction is fact. You feel unhappy, depressed, stressed or hopeless only because you believe that "My Life" is real.
Some people would say that "You have ruined your life."
Then why do I feel more fulfillment than most people who have all these things that you're supposed to have at my age? It's because the most important lesson I've learned from my last decade is that "It's okay."
There are no wrong steps. Every step, even if you think it's backwards, moves you forward if it's taken by your true nature and not by your inner narrator.
You can still use parts of "My Life" to connect with people, but when you no longer justify your identity with that story, you enter the awakened life. Whether your life story is one of triumph or tragedy doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is whether you are aware that "My Life" is a fiction in the head.
How to not ruin your life means never allowing "My Life" to determine what you do.
What will you do next?