One of the most prominent times I’ve felt “stuck” was mid-way through my master’s program. I wanted to quit. I wasn’t sure if working in education (my M.A. is in Education & Human Development) was the path for me. And, how could that be possible because it’s what I moved to DC to study? I mean, I received a full-ride and fellowship. This was my path, right?
I was so certain of it. Until I wasn’t. On top of the “stuckness,” I was stressed with the schoolwork itself, a full-time job and living in a new city. Oh, and I decided that this was the time to figure out my life purpose. Disclaimer: That journey can take way longer than a semester and involves tons of self-study. The truth is, I wasn’t happy even when all signs said I should’ve been, and I was trying to find a solid grip on the craggy boulder of control. Another disclaimer: Control doesn’t really exist.
Have you felt this way before? A feeling of just being 100%, completely stuck? Feeling as though you’re either wedged between two giant rocks or that everything slips right through your fingers?
But, wait a minute. What if feeling “stuck” is actually a good place to be?
That’s how The Bhagavad Gita starts. I’ll admit that this yogic text is not the easiest of reads, but its tale is important. The story begins with Arjuna, a Warrior, who feels supremely “stuck.” He’s being forced to fight a battle he really doesn’t want to fight, but he must to support his family. I’ll leave out all of the details, but one of the things he learns is this:
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s perfection.”
What does this have to do with feeling stuck? You guys, I think that when we feel “stuck,” we are actually in between feelings of “fear” and what we “should” do, versus what we actually want to do. And, that stands even when our desires are hard to understand or the path to get there is unclear. When we’re stuck, we may be unable to actually get clear on what it is that we want (i.e. our own beautiful, imperfect journey). We have a hard time listening.
If you know the path you’re meant to be on, keep going. But, if you’re stuck and need to find clarity, there is a question I’ve returned to again and again to get clear: What is did you love to do as a child? What was pure interest & joy before fear and “should” took up too much space in your heart? When you’re stuck, try not to look outside of yourself...dive deeper and deeper within for the answer. Your path is yours alone. And, when you recognize that, you realize you’re not stuck at all...you just needed to reconnect with YOU.
When I look back to my grad school quarter life crisis, I want to hug 24 year old Leanne. I had started doing yoga, but hadn’t really grasped its many layers and teachings. And, I certainly wasn’t ready to embrace the concept that everything was already within me. When I found the story of Arjuna, it helped me to realize that we aren’t alone in these feelings, that this story has been told before.
Feeling stuck means that you’re recognizing, hey, something’s not right. It means that you might be uncovering something more about yourself, about your life’s purpose, but you have to keep listening. And, that starts with asking the right questions. Ask yourself, What did I love to do as a child before fear or “should” got in the way? Enjoy your unique story. And, if you have two minutes, please share in the comments below what you loved to do as a kid. I think it’d be fun to see all of our childhood loves here! Such inspiration, right?