Shake It Off: When You Feel Stuck
Ok, rewind about 10 to 15 years and imagine a music video for a famous alternative rock band. The song is about something a little sad, a little hopeful. The singer is standing in the middle of a big city, singing in a crosswalk on a busy street through a time-lapse video of hundreds of people rushing past her to get where they need to be while she stays in place.
That’s how my Enneagram 4 self sees life when I feel stuck. Maybe that resonates with you, too. We’ve all been there—those times in life when it feels like everyone is moving ahead except you. All your friends are getting married, starting families, getting better jobs. And you can’t seem to make headway in any of those areas. You aren’t sure where you’re going, and you aren’t sure how to start getting there.
Unfortunately, sitting in this feeling of “stuck” can worsen the problem and isolate us from the people around us. It can even damage our relationship with God. Recently, I had a total meltdown the day of a friend’s birthday party for her boys. I was unhappy with things going on at my job. I hated that I was still single, and I was deeply sad that I wouldn’t be raising kids alongside my best friends’ babies. I felt totally stuck and I dealt with it in the worst way possible—I just shut down. I missed out on celebrating with my friends and being part of the special day. I isolated myself, even to the point of making myself feel physically awful because I was so distraught.
For some of you, this might seem like an extreme reaction. But whether your “stuck” feeling leads you to a meltdown, depression, anxiety, or just overall glum, the longer you stay there, the harder it is to get moving again. Do we dwell on comparison and feeling like we’re just not making it in life? Or do we trust that God is in control and has a plan for each of us that is our own journey to becoming who He is calling us to be?
It might be easy to answer those questions, but how do we actually move towards being unstuck and to gaining perspective on where we are in life? Here are a few things to remember in those moments you feel stuck.
- Other people’s success does not mean your failure. There are plenty of opportunities for people to succeed in this world, and we’d do much better to cheer each other on rather than holding on to feelings of jealousy.
- There are no milestones in life’s situations that you have to reach by a certain time. There isn’t a perfect time for marriage or starting a family or going to graduate school or changing your career. Life happens as it happens, and past high school, no one really goes through it at the same pace. What makes sense for you may not make sense for your friends. Rather than measuring yourself against those around you, focus on what’s in front of you to pursue.
- The grass really does seem greener on the other side, but it’s actually all the same. Whenever you’re not at the same stage in life as a friend and you’re feeling stuck, it’s easy to romanticize the life they have. While single people envy the married-with-kids-life that seems happy and fulfilled, married people often envy their single friends’ freedom to pursue their own dreams and flexibility to travel, change careers, and even manage their own money. One isn’t better than the other—each aspect of life comes with its share of rewards and challenges.
- God’s plans are so much bigger than our own. While you’re feeling stuck, you could be missing out on opportunities that God has placed right in front of you to impact lives, help others, and even experience personal growth. When we stay stuck, we are focused inward and looking towards that past and future, rather than the present. Don’t miss what God has for you right now, in this moment, because you’re too focused on where you think you should be.
Those times in life when we feel stuck can really challenge us. We can lose sight of God’s love for us as we are, where we are. He doesn’t expect us to meet any milestones, succeed at any career, reach a certain stage in life, to be used by Him for His kingdom. By focusing on the present and shaking off those feelings of being stuck, we can engage and embrace those moments God places in front of us to live in the present and be who He calls us to be.
Author: Allie Reefer
Allie is a writer, musician, and advocate working with refugees & immigrants in Pittsburgh, PA. She plays bass and sings on her local church worship team and is involved in several social justice efforts around the city. She loves coffee, travel, naps, inside jokes with her sister, and personality tests (ENFJ/Enneagram Type 4, FYI), and she’s passionate about living out the Micah 6:8 life–act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.