I don’t care who you are, if you have ever been alive, ever fallen on your Butt or faced challenges in your life, you have undoubtedly asked yourself the most dreaded of questions… “Am I wasting my life?!”
The very idea is one of the darkest and most awful of mental tortures. We can turn this question around in our minds, quite literally, for the rest of our lives and never really be 100% convinced we are being all we could be or who we should be… Because we are generally our harshest of critics… and we are ALWAYS changing.
For the first 40 years of my life I probably asked myself this question at least once a day; sometimes more.
If you are like me than you probably saw your life initially as this smorgasbord of options and choices. All laid out for you to navigate and try and string together to try and make the best life possible for yourself… To make the most of life.
You study a little, you work a lot, you fall on your butt a heap of teams and you are constantly changing and experiencing all these feelings and meeting all these people. It can get more and more confusing the deeper you go… the smorgasbord started feeling like a bottomless pit of decisions and complexity.
But at some point I found myself always returning to question of how does my life ‘feel’? Sometimes it could be answered quickly with a smile and a sense of achievement. sometimes it would be a long and deeply involved process of wrestling with conflicting thoughts and emotions… Other times the answer was like a cold, hard, searing and painful voice screaming in my head. “Yes! I am wasting my life!! Get me out of here!!”
Sometimes I found myself in a position where I could make some choices which allowed me to change where I lived, Where I worked, Who I was with, What I looked like and my life goals. I now realise that when life gives you options and choices, it is a true blessing because we forget that sometimes we have to face the very real fact that we are not always allowed to choose. We don’t get to choose who our biological family is, we don’t get to choose our genetics and DNA. We don’t get to choose when we lose people and we most definitely don’t get to choose some of the hardships we get dealt; like a tragic accident or a terrible illness. Those are the events you DON’T choose but you must bare and somehow cope with.
I have been chronically ill with several Autoimmune Diseases now for quite a while, and I find myself still wrestling with this question, only in very new ways… “Am I wasting my life and is life wasting me?”
The strangest thing is that, like before, when I ask these questions I still base a lot of my answers on how I ‘feel’ at the time. Hence, on very painful and difficult days (weeks or months) I can feel that my life and a lot of my former abilities are wasted and gone. Sitting in a painful limbo, for possibly the rest of my life, is a cold and extremely heartbreaking reality. The places I may never go! The people I may never meet! The things I may never do! The experiences I may never have!.. They start feeling like a very, very long list of regrets. It is a horrible feeling that can be overwhelming.
Other times… I think of the things that I HAVE done and the things that I STILL do, to the best of my ability, and I feel an immense satisfaction from knowing that no matter what life has dealt me, I am still trying to choose the best things for myself and my family. i.e. The best doctors, the best medications, the best use of my energy and the best use of my emotions. Sometimes my life ‘feels’ like an unbelievable journey.
In fact, more now than ever, I find myself torn by this question… and here is why…
When it comes to my physicality and health, I may always feel like it has been wasted and I give myself permission to morn that part of me whenever I feel it necessary. Like a dear friend or intimate lover, I have every right to miss that part of me and feel the waste that illness inflicted upon me. The other side of this difficult puzzle is that I feel that since I have had to learn how to interact with the world, and myself, on completely different levels, I feel that my mind, my soul, my spirit and my feelings are being used more than ever before. They are being used constantly and are expanded by my current circumstances!
My former life, although I had the physical abilities to work, study, clean house, do chores, go shopping etc I know that I did many of these things on autopilot and without using the rest of me to its fullest potential. I was trying to cram as much ‘activity’ into my existence; but that has changed forever. Now I try to not waste my many, many OTHER newly found abilities. Now I am not on autopilot. Now I feel EVERY day about the things that matter more to me… I am more aware of many other factors that make up how my life ‘feels’ than ever before.
As I sit here writing these thoughts and sending them out into the great unknown, it is my very real hope that I have not wasted an opportunity to connect and relate to someone out there who may be where I am. Someone out there who may be wresting with their own questions. Someone who might be struggling with their own health issues and evaluating their own journey.
I also believe that if I didn’t make the choice to TRY and make a difference through advocacy… no matter how small… THAT would ‘feel’ to me like a sad waste of my life.