It's difficult being you because nobody understands who you are.
You hate to admit it, except when you're four drinks in on a Friday night surrounded by anyone who will listen. You can't figure out why life seems so laborious and your job sucks your soul and spits it out every Monday morning.
You feel like a brick cemented into a wall of other bricks just like you, and you want to break free because you're different, dammit. Yet, you just don't know how to do that.
That's where I come in.
I'm the poster boy of confusion, a mistake making, don't-want-to-listen-to-my-intuition-or-anyone-else's-advice junkie -- a PhD of internal chaos and a masters graduate of addiction who's biggest dreams were as self-serving as they get. I fucked, drugged, and drank the pain away with the best of them, and then one day, I was confronted by a visitor's appearance as I stood in front of the mirror.
Awake for 72 hours and counting, I was on the bender of benders. Cocaine-pilled-and-liquored up and not feeling so free, I looked into that mirror and saw death staring back at me. I knew, in that moment, I was going to wind up six feet under if I kept up my charade. So I packed up my literal baggage and headed for new land, where I was dragged cheek-to-sidewalk while learning some of life's greatest lessons. I share with you what I've found we're doing wrong, and what we can do to live a life full of purpose.
1. YOU DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE
Suddenly, you may realize that you've let others define your life and have conformed to the status quo because it was encouraged. You forgot to speak up for yourself and now, so many years later, nobody else is speaking up for you.
2. YOU ARE A LABEL
You've forgotten that labels don't define who you are, and that solutions exist when you look for them, so you've stopped searching and expected your happiness to come in the form of material possessions or the best sex ever with the hottest partner ever. They're so fucking cool, and all your friends will be jealous!
3. YOU'RE A BROKEN RECORD
You work out compulsively and rely on external crutches to tell you that you are passionate! Your muscles are bulging! Your spirit animal is a tiger! But you've lost touch with your spirit and you search for the missing link in Facebook likes and Instragram followers.
4. YOU'RE A DREAMER, NOT A DOER.
80% of your time is spent wishing for something to happen, while 15% of your time is spent dreaming about what your life will be like when you achieve what you're wishing for. That leaves about 5% of your time to actually be working towards your dream, but you'd rather watch reality TV.
5. YOU CONDEMN OTHERS FOR WHAT YOU WANT
They totally have the perf relationship and that makes them horrible people you silently think to yourself in the back of a yoga class. That ombre haired slut doesn't deserve him, you do, because you are so much better than her.
6. YOU LIVE IN THE PAST
It's all about what you've done, but not what you're doing. You talk about your accomplishments in college and even, still high school, when you forget that you're a grown ass person in a grown ass world. You've let experience harden you and don't like yourself, but you sure like who you used to be.
7. YOU FORGET THAT VULNERABILITY IS SEXY
You lock yourself in a personal haven of fear with a fortress-like wall guarding your heart because you've been hurt before. You've been torn into pieces, and instead of growing from your experiences, you've shrunk like the dead flower that you subconsciously believe you are. You forget that the key to life is connection with others, and sharing your life is necessary for true happiness.
Feeling alone has become the hippest new game and forgetting that we view others the way we see ourselves is a forgotten about mystery in a novel hanging out in a used book bin. Separation and judgment seem to be the easiest solutions for any of us who are on the sidelines of our own lives and we forget about the power that exists not only within us but within one another.
We've got to carve some time out to get to know ourselves. When we can commit to self-worship, no longer will we worship who we once were, what we are dreaming of, or condemning that ombre haired slut in yoga class.
When we can get clear on who we are, life becomes a magnet for our greater good, and we may find that we'll suddenly have a career shift that fulfills us, or throw it all away to travel the world.
And why not? If we slapped our own asses in the morning and told ourselves to go get 'em tiger (what up, spirit animal!), our perspective can shift, which allows us to get closer to our purpose.
Giving space from our mental anguish and thoughts (via meditation, prayer, journaling, dancing, spending time in nature, or any other self-reflective freedom act), rewards us with clarity and an intentional life.
We forget that there's always the possibility to forgive ourselves, for all that shit we once did.
What's done is done, and once we can accept this, we'll be able to love ourselves... which lets us love others.
Set fire to the past, embrace the flames that blaze, and welcome the new you as the smoke clears.
Suddenly, what others do doesn't seem so personal (it never is), and we understand that life is our ally, not our enemy, and is waiting for us to awaken to all that we are.
Once we awaken to all that we are, the lightbulb of our soul shines its light of self-acceptance and love. When this happens, no longer will this list apply to you, because you will have accepted who you were born to be; free, full of purpose, and imperfectly perfect.
Garrett Paknis is the creator of Just Enlightenment, where he helps readers live a life full of purpose. He works as a spiritual coach and healer, and is based in downtown Manhattan, NYC.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.