What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do
The problem that many of us, myself included, face is that we often do not feel well.
Of course, this problem is typically temporary, but when one does not feel well, whether physically, emotionally or mentally, the reason it feels so bad is that there is no end in sight. How different our pain would be if we could be certain that it would end in, say, thirty minutes.
Most of the time I feel pretty good. But sometimes I feel an inability to make decisions. My brain starts slowing down and I don’t feel much like doing anything.
Growing up, I felt different than everyone else at school. In the classroom, where I was in an environment (especially on tests) where I could concentrate well, I did fine. But outside class, I felt slow and unable to keep up with classmates and what they were saying. Everyone seemed pretty upbeat but I felt like I was raining on the parade with my silence.
My natural demeanor did not help. I came to realize that people perceived a frown on my face. In reality, I felt a blank about what was going on around me and simply tried not to get much attention.
I did not even want attention for how well I did in school. When one of my teachers read a bad score out loud, I reacted emotionally to the declaration, not the grade. But this fact, like others, was ignored as a few students harassed me for being a “sore loser” about the grade.
The answers to my questions about myself came over time. After doing well in high school classes for three-and-a-half years, I approached my academic counselor in high school for help in applying to schools out of state. She listened to me explain why I wanted to go to the schools for a while and then said to me, “I don’t know you.”
She gave me an answer I did not expect. I was thinking she would agree to help or that she would not agree. Instead, she gave me an answer that made me wonder why I had even bothered to work hard in school.
Looking back on this incident, I could simply have approached another counselor or simply applied only to in-state schools. Going to those colleges wasn’t that important.
I instead could not concentrate on anything for the next few days but the comment she had made. I did not go to school and withdrew from others. I then began what has been years of psychotherapy. Eventually, I got a diagnosis that made sense (bipolar disorder) and medication that has helped me to stay away from emotional extremes.
But even more importantly, I have found ways to deal with not feeling well. The root of the problem is that at times feel as though I have no power to confront the obstacles I see ahead.
I have learned that there are powers available to us. We can’t see them very clearly when things are going wrong, so I try to remember them when things are fine:
The power of the purse
The power of proximity
The power of the pen
The power of patience
The power of preparation
Purse – Money doesn’t solve everything, but it can solve certain problems. It can take care of other issues while you deal with the one thing that is really bothering you.
Proximity – The closer you are to a solution, the easier it is to find. If you are an actor, for example, you probably won’t be found by talent agents too far away from where you want to act.
Pen – You have the power to write, which is one way to clarify what you feel and give you a chance to express possible solutions.
Patience – You do not have to give in to a “solution” offered by someone with an interest in solving the matter you are in their way. You can wait them out.
Preparation – You can always help yourself ahead of time. Find people you can talk to about your situation. They are out there and you just need to take the time to meet them.
That’s it. There are no magic solutions for what ails us. But the time we spend handling our problems gives us a deeper meaning in all that we do.