Inside: Stop waiting for easy or perfect – life is messy but you are strong and brave enough to walk through each challenge or obstacle you face. This a guest post by Angie Schultz of The Becoming Place.
Is everything going to be okay?
How often have you said those words?
Most of us have repeated some version of them many times, whether to ourselves or others.
The predictable response: Everything will be okay, is meant to provide reassurance and hope. But those words can ring empty, even as you cling to them.
That’s because when you say everything is going to be okay, what you usually mean is I’m hoping that everything is going to be resolved my way and that I won’t have to deal with any major heartache or disruption.
And deep down, you know that that isn’t realistic.
Even if today’s problem resolves itself simply and easily, there will be other challenges tomorrow or the next day.
Jobs are lost. Relationships fail. Illness happens. Loved ones die. Sooner or later, every one of us will have moments of breathtaking pain.
But that doesn’t mean you have to tiptoe through life, breath held, shoulders tense, wondering when it will be your turn for things to not be okay.
And it doesn’t mean you have to despair.
What it Really Means When Things Aren’t Okay
When you hit those inevitable moments of not okay, it means one thing: you’re a hero.
Seriously. Think about this.
What story have you ever heard where the hero faced no opposition? It just doesn’t happen.
The supporting characters? Maybe. Or at least you don’t always hear about that side of their story. But the hero is always pushed to their limit.
Not only that, those moments of not okay are crucial to their mission.
In facing down their worst fears, they find their own power.
In standing up to external opposition, they learn to silence the internal opposition that tells them they can’t and they are not enough.
Those people? The strong ones? The brave ones?
The Myth of What it Looks Like to Be a Hero
And that’s the problem, right?
This hero business is intimidating. You tell yourself that heroes are different. That they were born tough and courageous and special. That they have always been triumphant and successful. That you can’t be like them. Or if you possibly could, it would be at some other time, far in the future.
But the truth?
They become the best version of themselves one choice at a time. Just like you’re doing.
They make mistakes.
Things don’t work out.
And they show up and keep trying anyway.
It’s that kind of everyday courage that changes lives. That matters. And it doesn’t come from everything outside you working out smoothly. It comes from claiming your own power right in the middle of the complicated, imperfect present.
How to Claim Your Power
You don’t have to feel courageous to be brave. And you don’t have to feel strong to have grit. Some of your most valiant decisions will come in the shadows and in the quiet moments.
Triumph and celebration come later.
You don’t have to be cocky to claim your power—in fact, it makes it harder.
But it will help to think like a hero, talk to yourself like a hero, and choose to be present in the moment like the hero you are.
Thinking like a hero means reminding yourself that regardless of what happens outside of you, you can still choose your response. You can create meaning and purpose and joy even when things don’t work out. That’s your superpower.
Being present means being brave enough to show up fully, even though it scares you to let people see that you are less than perfect.
Feeling like a victim (even when unfair things are happening), on the other hand, siphons away your power. If you tell yourself that you can only be okay when other people treat you well, or when circumstances unfold in an ideal way, you cut your own determination, strength, and resourcefulness out of the equation.
And those are exactly the qualities that can make things okay—not at some future, magical time, but right now, on this messy, beautiful, ordinary, irreplaceable day.
Why Everything is Already Okay
When you’re feeling scared, the real reassurance isn’t that you will dodge every problem, and the real hope isn’t that you will never struggle.
Comfort comes from getting honest with yourself:
You will make mistakes.
Other people will make mistakes.
Things will sometimes just go wrong.
And all of that is already okay.
It’s okay because setbacks don’t define you or your future.
And It’s okay because there is room in your great big heart for sadness and joy, discouragement and faith. You are strong enough to sit with pain, learn from it, and let it go.
Know that on the days when challenges loom large as well as the days when things work out, on the days when you feel scared and inadequate as well as the days when confidence comes easily, you are enough.
Everything is okay.
Angie Schultz, MSW, loves to help people transform emotional pain into meaning, joy, and growth. When she’s not teaching college psychology classes, she blogs at The Becoming Place. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe here for special insider updates.