You ever look at your life and you’re like, “What the hell happened?”
To the dreams.
And it would be bad enough that the dreams didn’t come anywhere near true, but then you have the ideas. Those vague ideas you had somewhere in early adulthood. Of what you thought life was going to be like in ten or twenty years. I’m not talking those pie in the sky ideas. No. Just the by and by natural outworking of your above-average life.
The healthy relationships. The stuff. The adventures. The accomplishments. The starter kit for a satisfied, well-lived-so-far, middle-aged life.
If you can’t relate, I can appreciate that, and I admire you (maybe, I think).
But if you’re like me, and you’re looking back with squinted vision, scratching your head trying to figure out where you made a wrong turn, then you are not alone. I’m here. Me and you. We’re here.
Thirty sucked. I dreaded that ticking clock. Those days counting down to the funeral of my twenties. What had I done? What had I accomplished? The strange thing was, I never had a concrete goals. But I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I had not lived up to my expectations of myself, no matter how vague those expectations were.
Before I knew it, another ten mediocre years ticked by, and forty was at the door. It was somewhere in there that I realized that I had been in a literal decade long mid-life crisis. How long are those supposed to last anyway? Though I had never given them much thought before, I had always assumed they were meant to start later and end faster. “Yeah, I’ll take two to three years in my forties for $500, Alex.”
But something began to happen at around thirty-eight or so. It didn’t yank me out of my depression or slap me in the face with a cold shot of water that made me take life by the balls and win all of the sudden. Not at all.
It was slow. And quiet. Like a seed, taking root. It was this idea, an idea that seems almost too simple to name, but I will name it anyway. It had to do with my mind, and it’s plasticity, or mold-ability. It was this idea of a growth mindset, and the thought that, if exercised appropriately, my mind could expand and allow me to do things I never thought possible. I was just at the beginning of learning about the way that I perceived myself. About the limitations that I had put on myself, the mental shackles that bound me.
Up to this point, my mediocrity had told me everything I needed to know about myself. But that was a lie. And somewhere, deep down, I always knew that, but I had no way to prove it, and more importantly, no way to break the cycle.
Seeds are funny. You and your kid (who, like you, was once only a seed himself) plant them in a pot. You water them and put them by the window. You watch them everyday. Actually, you just watch the dirt do nothing for a long time. That’s how this has been. It has seemed like a lot of nothing for a really long time.
But in the past couple of months, this stuff inside of me has started to grow at an exponential rate. And it’s weird. For the first time in I can’t remember when, I actually feel excited about life. Like, honest to goodness, gosh-darned excited, by golly. I’m actually not sure if I have ever felt excited about life, though I would guess, as a wee little tot, I had to at least have some of these thoughts from time to time.
To really grasp the significance of this, you have to understand that I’ve struggled with depression since I was like twelve. I’ve gone to shrinks on and off for that same amount of time, and, during all of that, have generally disliked life. I’ve lost people. I’ve struggled with PTSD, and just had plain old human, “what the heck is my purpose here, anyway?” kind of questions.
But now though, I’m diving head-first into the layman's version of brain-science. I’m learning, as fast as I can, about the incredible capabilities we have been given, and it’s staggering. It’s life-altering. It’s the yank me out of my depression and slap me in the face with a cold shot of water that makes me take life by the balls and win all of the sudden stuff that I’ve been waiting for my whole life.
And the craziest thing. It’s always been there, my mind. Your mind. So much untapped potential. It’s like the “Limitless” movie, minus the drugs. The biggest problem with that movie is that he doesn’t simply realize he can access more of his brain without the drugs.
If you resonated with “What the hell happened to my life,” part at the beginning you may feel let down at this point, and that I understand. It is difficult, in a funk, to see people succeed and not think even worse of yourself, or simply hope they get hit by a bus, or both. But the point of all this is to say, no matter how dark and how long your days have been, there is hope. There is a way forward. Your life can be transformed. Your mind can be made, literally, new. There is a way. Keep going. Don’t give up.
If you have any interest in some of the materials I’ve been consuming, just ask, I’d be happy to share. Or just to talk. Take care.