“Have patience with everything that remains unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language.” -Rilke
Loving the questions themselves, such simple yet poignant advice. No matter what stage of life we find ourselves in there are always questions. There is always something unresolved; we are always wondering, “What’s next?” True, there will be seasons of life where this sense of ambiguity and questioning is felt more keenly than others, but lets face it- this searching is just part of our human nature. We are so often in transition, and it’s figuring out how to live in the transitions, in the “in-between,” that’s the difficult part.
Learning how to embrace life in all of its uncertainty and ambiguity this has been a mantra of mine for the past few years. I graduated with my undergraduate degree five years ago ready to set the world on fire. I was so ready to make my mark and do something substantial, something of value. I had so much passion and energy. I wanted to change the world.
After graduation, however, I found that the reality of “changing the world” proved to be much more difficult than the ideal. Knowing where to start, what cause to take up, and how to get involved; it was all so overwhelming. Things weren’t coming easily to me, and the ambiguity of life became stifling. I began to question my purpose. And then, even worse, I found myself so comfortable in my routine that I stopped the questioning. I stopped digging deeper, stopped examining my motives and my passions. Slowly I became disillusioned. My imagination dulled and life went on this way for a little while, trapped in a cycle of apathy.
And then, through a series of tough conversations with mentors, family and friends I realized that it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself. It was time to reclaim my purpose in life, whatever that may look like. And no, it might not look the way that the idealistic freshly graduated version of my younger self thought that it might, but that’s okay. It’s good, even! The ambiguity leaves room for imagination, flexibility and a lot of good dreaming.
We really find out what we are made of during these “in-between” periods of time. We have the opportunity to be fighters; to look within ourselves and find a sense of strength that we never knew we had. It’s in transition that we are strengthened, that our character builds and we really discover who we are and what we want from life. It is when we let go of our preconceptions that we find our true purpose.
If you find yourself in a place of transition and uncertainty, seize the opportunities that this season in life affords. Live with open palms; don’t be afraid to let go of the control. When life is lived with open hands and open minds it’s amazing the things you will see, things that you would have missed otherwise. Try new things on for size; experiment and figure out what makes you feel most alive. Don’t let this moment in time slip through your fingers half-lived. Be fully present in whatever stage of life you are in. We’re on a journey, and on it together. Recruit the people you are closest to and allow them to speak into your life and dream with you. Love the questions, have patience with the unresolved and never doubt that you will get there someday. But, until then, enjoy the ride.
Image via Life Is Beautiful