I should really title the article, “it’s ok to be terrified by the future” but I didn’t want to frighten you anymore than you already are.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while but because I knew it would be such a difficult one to put into words I delayed it. However I’m seeing too many friends (and readers) go through this right now so thought I would face my fear and write a post that scares me…
It’s ok to be scared of the future. Honestly. You know everyone around you who you look at and think ‘I can’t believe they have their shit together and I still feel like this’? Well, newsflash, they don’t have their shit together; they’re just better at faking it than you. They are still awake at 2am like you or having a panic attack at the bus stop because, in terms of numbers, they’re an adult but they truly have no idea what they’re doing with their lives currently; they’re scared of the future just like you.
The problem is, we equate routine and comfort with happiness. We see people with their 9-5 jobs and their families and think ‘they’ve got it together’ but we have no idea what’s really going on in their lives and heads. They could be thinking about the business idea they’d really like to chance but are too scared to. They could be thinking about leaving their unhappy marriage (which is perfectly happy on the outside). They could be wishing their lives away on dreams they’ll never chase because they never question themselves or their lives hard enough to try and achieve what they really want.
Being scared of the future means that you are questioning yourself and your life and whilst it can be extremely painful to do, it means you are seeking understanding of everything around you and attempting to learn from it which can never be seen as a negative thing despite the often negative feelings associated with it so please, take some comfort in your strength to challenge yourself no matter how weak the fear of the future makes you feel.
We learn far more from our suffering than we ever can from happiness despite how much we chase the latter.
I wish I had the answer to stop your haunting feelings. I wish I could take away your anxieties that creep in when you least expect them or want them. I wish I could give you the direction you so desperately crave but I can’t. All I can do is offer you the small comfort that you’re not alone. That there are more of us out there than you realise. That even the people that DO have their shit together still get moments of panic wondering what the future will deliver other than uncertainty.
All I can tell you is that it’s ok to be scared of the future. It’s not comfortable and it may make you upset or depress you but there is a piece of advice that might help:
If you’re going through hell; keep going – Winston Churchill.
There is nothing else you can do but take it a week, a day or even an hour at a time. Be kind to yourself. Don’t allow your thoughts to tell you that you ‘should’ have your life together, allow yourself to feel the sadness and let it out. Tell your friends and family how you feel, tell ME how you feel, surround yourself with things and people that comfort you and if you need to, have a fucking good cry. As my mum always says; it’s better out than in.
And please don’t think that because I’m the one that’s writing this that I am exempt from these feelings. Over the past year, I have lost count at the amount of days I have spent in a mindless haze or crying until I can’t breathe worrying about money, wanting a family, what I’m going to do for the rest of my life and countless other issues that terrify me about the future ahead of me. I have been crippled by fear recently, truly unable to move from the spot terrified that I’m not going to live the life I want and need and that I’ll never be truly happy.
People try and tell you that you need to trust in the Universe, be positive and that the future is yours to write etc but you know what? When you feel like shit and you’re scared, lost in a world of hurtful anxiety and you feel so isolated by your thoughts and feelings, those words do nothing but make you feel guilty that you can’t be ‘better’, ‘stronger’ or ‘more together’.
So I’m going to say something shocking here:
Fuck it! Fuck the world! It’s terrifying, truly and it’s ok to be scared by the future but as I always say to my friends:
Take baby steps. They won’t get you there quickly but you’ll still move forward.
The future scares us because society tells us it’s scary. It tells us we should be married with children and a house with a car in the driveway that our careers pay for by the time we’re 30 and if we don’t have those things or aspire to get them, we’re weird and because society doesn’t inform us of alternative ways of living, we feel like instant failures wondering how we are ever going to be happy or supportive ourselves. So we begin to doubt ourselves to the core. We feel inferior to the world and inadequate. That we’re somehow weak because we don’t know what we want in life. But you know what? Whilst you may not know what you do want, I’m pretty sure you know what you DON’T want and that’s one hell of a starting point despite how little comfort that may offer you at times.
Everyone is different. Some of us worry what we’re going to do with our lives in terms of a job or a career, some of us worry we won’t have a family of our own, some of us worry we won’t ever be truly happy and then there are some of us that worry about it all simultaneously and totally fuck ourselves over in the head (me included).
As I said above, I wish I had the answers for you to help you feel a little less scared and a little more direction but I don’t. All I can do is be here and offer you words of advice to let you know that you’re not alone and tell you that if you started being more honest within your social circle about your anxieties and fears, you’d find that there are many more of us out there than you realise. All you/we want and need is someone to start the conversation. To sit down, say ‘I’m scared about the future’ and allow us all, one by one, to share the grief that we feel about uncertainty; the same feelings you have.
You’re not alone.