You’ve always had a plan. You knew that it would all work out, just the way you envisioned… until it didn’t.
You may not have been obsessive about the details, but you at least had an idea of what career you wanted, the type of house you envisioned living in and an approximate date for when you thought you’d be married or have children… and even where you wanted to be at this point in your life. You had a general outline… right? A map of sorts, that you planned to navigate right to your end destination. That is until everything fell apart and you had no idea how you deviated so far off course.
That was 2008, in a nutshell for me. I started the year on cloud 9. My real estate business was booming. I was earning great money. I had a gorgeous home and I had just launched my 1st publication. The stars and the heavens seemed to be aligning perfectly.
I had goals.
I felt like my journey was leading me straight towards my dream life.
And then, everything fell apart.
The great recession came like a tsunami and left all kinds of devastation in its wake. With the housing and financial industry in a complete disarray, advertisers decided not to renew their contracts and tightened or eliminated their advertising budgets. I lost my investment properties… because my tenants could buy for less than the rent I needed to charge or they lost their jobs, and I had to make some hard and painful decisions about my next move.
I’m a survivor, a natural problem solver. So, I don’t easily buckle under pressure, but I was coming apart at the seams and I found myself in unchartered territory… I was drowning in depression – and I had no idea what to do. There was no grey area. I was either hyper emotional or walled-up and numb.
If we’re being honest, it was one of the few times in my life that, I was scared to death.
When you’re on a certain trajectory and the plane unexpectedly starts to fall out of the sky, you can become overwhelmed, to the point, that you begin to lose it a little. Not in some crazy cat lady kind of way… but there’s a hopelessness that comes over you, like nothing you’ve experienced in your life before.
This wasn’t a life lesson that I needed to learn.
This wasn’t a humbling experience.
This was my worst nightmare. And for the next few years, believe it or not, it got worse.
As I pulled myself, and a plan, together, I was blind to what was happening to me. I was becoming a negative, isolated person. And I was comfortable with it. Because the truth was that the people around me really didn’t want the truth. They asked “how I was” as a courtesy or to get the scoop on my situation. So, I walled-up and avoided all unnecessary contact with others. Partially embarrassed by this turn in my life – a fall from grace of sorts – and partially wounded by the residue that was left behind.
You see, I was always the one that could figure it out. The one that people didn’t worry about because they knew that I would be okay, but this was something I wasn’t sure that I could navigate. I could no longer see the big picture. Emotionally, I was just trying to make it one day at a time.
I knew that I wasn’t alone with the feelings that I was having, but I was so overwhelmed at the time, that I had no idea what step to take next.
Looking back, it’s easy to blurt those feel-good sayings: ‘There’s not testimony without a test”, or “Every great life has a story to tell”. Sounds good, right? But, I believe that we have to accept that everything isn’t an epiphany moment. Sometimes things just happen, and we have to fight to make it out okay.
Sometimes lemons are just lemons.
Years have passed and I now can evaluate what happened during that time of my life, with clear thoughts and less emotion. When I reflect on the years preceding the turmoil, I realize that I don’t have many memories. There are whole spans of time, that are foggy to me. I was so busy with the work of building businesses that I failed to enjoy the moment; to enjoy my husband, my children… my life. Sure, I was on a fast track to success but maybe not in the way that was intended for me… maybe, it wasn’t in line with my purpose.
There were several steps that I had to take to pull myself out of such a dark place; I’ll save that for another post. The bigger picture here are the lessons I learned along the way.
I realized that there is no manual for life. There is no fill-in-the-blank workbook… and no one-shoe-fits-all guide.
We can plan all we want, but until we come to terms with the fact that sometimes the best things in life are the unexpected things, we will remain shackled to an outline of milestones that we may or may not accomplish.
That experience changed my outlook on life. I am more in tune with who I am and not just what I do. I have evolved into a stronger, more resilient woman that understands that feelings are meant to be felt and memories are meant to be made. I enjoy my life and the journey so much more. And while the message here is not for you to throw away your plans or stop pursuing your goals, it is to enjoy more of your life. Be a little more spontaneous. Schedule time just for you and truly live your life, being present in every moment.