The following is a beautifully written guest post by Alexis Meads of AlexisMeads.com.
A few weeks after giving birth to Kai, an acquaintance of mine had a baby and posted on Facebook “every day feels like Christmas morning” in regards to life with a newborn.
My heart sank.
In essence, I was not feeling like every day was Christmas morning. Far from it. I was feeling a range of emotions from overwhelming love and gratitude, to total despondency and doubt.
Questions started going through my head like,
“Is this how I’m supposed to be feeling?”
“Why does everyone else seem so happy?”
“I feel guilty that I even feel this way.”
Later I found out that she, too, had total meltdown days. I’ll talk more in a future post of what life with a baby is really like!
Fast forward a few weeks and I received an email from a good friend who said he was feeling stuck, and that it was hard to look at social media and feel like everyone around him was getting married, or having babies, or going on life-changing trips.
That’s why this post needs to be written. Because it is not as easy as it looks.
You may have seen me post on Facebook and Instagram some of the below pictures, showing me happy, made-up and smiling surrounded by love. Those moments totally exist and are awesome.
The things I didn’t post:
The days that I didn’t have time to put on grown-up clothes. Or piling up laundry that needed to get done. Or me and Peter getting in a fight because we both thought the other was going to pick up dinner.
Why didn’t I post them?
Because that would be kind of weird. And they’re not the moments I want to focus on in my life.
Social media is a reel of highlights of people’s lives. They’re the moments we enjoy sharing with others and projections of who we are as well as who we wish to be.
It can be connecting, but it can also be isolating. Especially when we use comparison as a measuring stick of how our lives, relationships, and jobs should look.
But there is connection in those feelings, too. Because we are all human. We have ebbs and flows. We have off days, weeks or even months. We get to experience the range of emotion that is available to us.
The trick is to realize that you are never stuck because everything is always changing. That can feel a wee bit scary, but it can also be incredibly liberating. If we’ve gotten into the same thought patterns or habits over time, such as, “Everyone is always in a happy relationship but me” we can begin to think that is who we are.
So remember that there is constant flow and change — that you can move forward. And that no one’s life is always as easy as it may appear.
One thing I love that has been proven to make us happier, especially if we’re feeling stuck, is to embrace an “ikigai” which roughly translates to “the reason you get up in the morning”.
In Dan Buettner’s study of Blue Zones, he explores the lessons for living longer from areas of the world where people live the longest. Okinawa is one of these places, and the older generation of people can all tell you their purpose and reason they get up in the morning. One woman who is 101 years old said her “ikigai” is to hold her great great great granddaughter every day. When asked what it’s like to hold her, she smiled and replied, “it’s like leaping into heaven.”
For months I was feeling stuck, knowing I couldn’t move back into my old life but unsure how to forward into my new one. Right now my purpose is seeing my baby smile at me when I get him out of his crib (nothing lights me up more!), slowly training for a triathlon and being of service to others.
So if your feeling stuck, think of what is your ikigai, no matter how small it may seem.
Know that things are always in the flow and start to notice how you are a part of that. And use social media as an awesome tool to connect! But if you notice it’s making you feel kind of icky, take a break for a bit, it’s okay.
Alexis Meads is a Harvard educated Personal Life Coach and founder of AlexisMeads.com and Crazy Wild Love Academy. She's well-known as the coach to hire when you want to improve your confidence, get clarity around next steps, and create a more fulfilling life. She's helped hundreds of women succeed and is a regular columnist for Huffington Post and Maria Shriver.
Get your FREE copy of her guide: 5 Simple Steps to Put Your Life Back in Balance.