“Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” — John Mayer
I still remember my sister sending me that quote, along with her own message of comfort and support.
I was 21, heartbroken, and confused.
I’d just graduated from university in the spring, and my first “serious” (long-term) relationship ended that fall. With no real plans for what to do with my life and no one to be with, I felt more lost and alone than ever.
Even though I was excited to be done school and start my “real life,” I was also scared. I had no idea what that really meant, and it felt daunting.
And do you want to know a little secret?
I’m still learning.
It’s now almost a decade later
I recently hit a milestone that many people tend to think of as a big deal in life: I turned 30.
Did I feel any older? Not really. Did I think of myself as any wiser? I’m afraid not.
But then I thought of myself at 20 and realized just how much has changed.
Me at 20 and me at 30 are very different people — and this is the power of time.
So much has changed in the past decade
Many think of 30 as that age where you’re supposed to “have life figured out.” Society sees 30 as the age of maturity — the mark of finally becoming a real adult.
An article titled “How to Accept the 30 Year Old Milestone” makes it obvious that enough people struggle with it to warrant helpful advice-type pieces on this topic. The article perfectly summarizes the sentiment that a lot of us feel:
“Turning 30 years old is a big milestone, but it can also be a little daunting, especially if you had different expectations for your life.”
While I do feel that I’ve matured in many ways, I sometimes still feel like a little kid with so much more to learn than I’ve gotten “figured out.” I look around me and see my peers taking steps that I’m not yet taking (or maybe won’t take), and at times I wonder what my life is trying to tell me.
But then I remember the words of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard:
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
That’s the thing about life. You have to live it in order to learn from it.
Comparing your current circumstances with somebody else’s doesn’t lead to understanding, because no two people have the same past.
The universe works in mysterious ways
Life doesn’t always make a lot of sense in the moment.
Somebody makes a decision, and you think it’s the wrong one. Your friend moves away for a job in another country; your tenant tells you they want to move out and end their lease early; or your job suddenly seems more fragile than ever before.
You worry that this change will disrupt your life or make things harder for you.
You’re afraid of the unknown, so you resist this change, thinking of all the ways it could negatively impact you.
You fear that you’ll lose touch with your friend and become lonely, or that you won’t be able to find another tenant in time to cover the mortgage. Or, worse yet — that you’ll never find another tenant! What if nobody ever wants to rent out your apartment again? What if the business you work for decides to quit operating, leaving you without work in the New Year?
The mind has a way of quickly becoming enveloped by fear, and when you’re stuck in fear and living from lack, you can’t even begin to see that there are other possibilities, too.
Other outcomes may be in the works.
Eventually, it will all make sense
I went to see Frozen 2 earlier this week.
At one point in the movie, Anna and Elsa set off on a journey to find out the truth about their past, accompanied by Olaf, Kristoff and Sven.
Along the way, though, Olaf gets separated from the pack, and starts to encounter some spooky things in the Enchanted Forest.
To get through it, he sings himself a song, of course.
The first verse goes like this:
“This will all make sense when I am older
Someday I will see that this makes sense
One day, when I’m old and wise
I’ll think back and realize
That these were all completely normal events”
In order to keep from totally freaking out, Olaf comforts himself by believing that someday, everything that’s happening to him will make sense.
And that’s what we all must do.
Believe there’s a reason for what happens
We don’t always know why something happens in life, or understand what it’s trying to teach us at the time.
It’s often not until much later on that we begin to see connections, or discover the good that came out of something we initially thought was all bad.
I went through a very difficult time in my mid-twenties that ultimately helped me discover more of who I am, what I love, and what makes me happy. It also led to the discovery of a tool I can use to help keep my mental health in check.
In short, an experience that seemed 100% negative in nature at the time turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise.
I can now look back on that time and see with clarity that it was a turning point in my life.
In a roundabout way, it even led me to the person I want to spend my life with.
All you have to do is trust in the process
Upon reflection, I realize just how many of these seemingly meaningless events have occurred throughout my life.
And yet, years later, they weren’t meaningless at all; they were some of the most important things that ever happened to me.
You will not always have all the answers in life, but you still have to take the next step, just like Olaf did in the Enchanted Forest.
Instead of letting his fear keep him stuck, he chose to believe that there was a good reason for it, and that someday, he would understand why he had to experience something that felt overwhelming and scary.
You might feel lost and alone in the Enchanted Forest of your own life at times, and that’s okay.
You don’t have to know why you’re experiencing something right now. Your only job is to experience it fully. Pay attention.
In time, the reason will be shown to you.
Eventually, you’ll see how the pieces of your life were all falling into place, even without your knowledge.