Your 20s (and really any age) are this time when you may be experiencing new things, going to new places, starting new jobs, and leaving things you always knew. You're leaving people, communities, places, and begin forging your path. And with all of this change there are accepted growing pains, transitions, new people, uncertainties, responsibilities... the list goes on and on.
But one thing that you might not be expected to handle is a traumatic loss.
Any amount of loss can affect how you feel and view your identity.
And it isn't just death. Sometimes people don't think of what they're going through as a "loss" because it isn't as "official" or "real" as a death can and may be. "Unofficial" losses are real and though they aren't viewed as so, that doesn't mean they don't hurt as much or hold as much weight. Unofficial losses that affect identity can be related to comfort, community, opportunity, ability, stability, relationships, freedom, fertility, residence, finances, personal matters... and they can all intersect and overlap when experiencing anything, really. And that's something I've had to figure out for myself.
My dad passed away in September of 2015, and I was in full swing of what I was doing and all of a sudden I had to stop. For most of my life, I've endured a variety of seemingly life-changing events and occurrences, but this was anything else. Obviously. And as many times as I thought that the day might come, I never really thought of what it would be like when it did. And I wasn't ready for it like I had been other times.
Actually saying that my dad had died is what really did it. Even if I didn't believe (for a while) that that was actually true.
It's something that you're never, ever prepared to really know how to handle until you have to do it yourself. And even know, I'm still figuring out how to handle it.
I have had to figure out a way of living and finding myself like never before. And most of it has come from times when I've finally felt like i've hit rock bottom. When reality really kicks in and you have nowhere to go except inside yourself to find the light.
I started to have this conversation with myself about who I was before that happened and who I am now. If you've experienced death or any type of loss or any major life challenge or anything like that, there's an important thing to remember:
You might not always be the person you were,
but you're becoming something bigger and better. Everything that happens to you really helps to strengthen who you are, your outlook on life, your values, your relationships, your connections.
It can be hard to really become comfortable with all that you've gone through, but you have to shift your perspective and have gratitude for what it has given you: a new outlook on life, resources, conversations, communities, and whatever may come from it.
You have to take everything you've gathered and move forward with it, connect with other people about it, and try to be there for other people as they may have been there for you.
When something happens, you might have to reevaluate what you're doing. You don't completely stop what you're doing, per say, but it may
open your eyes to recognizing what you do with your time and energy.
Your environment might change, your job, your responsibilities, and anything like that could change because of whatever you've experienced, but you inside are still here. It's important to remember that. you're still the person you've always been, you're just experiencing a new layer of yourself. And that's okay. We're built to adapt. Even if you're still in the trenches of coming back to yourself, you'll come out with a new perspective and skill set of tools and strengths you wouldn't have had had you not gone through it all. It might not always seem clear or obvious, but it's true.
It's times like these that you're really forced to dig deep into who you are, what you're meant for, what you can handle, and where you can go from here. the process of experiencing and enduring this level of personal strength and discovery is unlike anything I've ever thought was something I'm capable of.
You have this opportunity to be with people, either digitally or in real life, and you should never take that for granted.
Even if you haven't talked to someone in a while, or barely at all, if you have an available avenue of communication… use it. Even if it's fleeting or temporary. If you see something and what to lend a hand, provide support, or just contribute something, then do it. A "random message" is still a message, and it'll mean more than you ever may realize. Don't hold yourself back because you may never know the power of that "random message" until you're the one that needs it.
Someone in your current circle might not always be there or be able to relate, but I know someone from someone else's circle can be.
Create new connections.
We're connected for a reason. In more ways than you may know. We're here to help and heal. It's how you grow, how you live, and how you feel. Ask for advice, help, connections, opportunities, and if someone isn't available at that time, know that there is still value in making the effort. It's all worth it.
When you're going through anything,
Let yourself feel it.
The highlight reel is out there - on social media and in real life, and it can be hard to navigate when you're going through something and it seems like everyone else is on another planet. In these times, disconnect and unplug. Get yourself away from it, go outside, clear your mind, and breathe. you don't have to solve everything right now. It's okay to just be.
And just have gratitude for all of the experiences that have led you to today.
There have been countless times when I've wanted to share something and spent so much time debating whether or not to post it. How to say something. How to make it sound. Whether or not it "fits" with what I've been posting… then wondering how it will be perceived, if it's just going to be scrolled by, or if it doesn't "hook" in the right way. Or if it'll resonate with anyone. or if it'll hit the people that might benefit from it.
Then, once i've posted it, I start to "babysit" it… seeing how many people have liked or commented or viewed it. And sometimes, in that moment, I just jump ship and delete it. But then, what if I deleted it before the right person saw it? The person who needed it?
To anyone that is going through anything...
If you've ever felt lost and don't know where to go or who to talk to, know that you are not alone. Know that you're still here. No matter what you're going through or have gone through.
You aren't lost, you aren't forgotten, you aren't not worthy of light and love.