on grace and disappointment

A friend of mine recently told me she was bored. 

But here's the thing: she's really busy. She has a robust social calendar. A fulfilling job where she's able to give back to a cause she's passionate about. She has four trips coming up between now and Thanksgiving. Her life is anything but boring.

So why does she feel bored?

It took me back to this winter, when I felt crazy busy, but kept telling my friends I was bored. I sincerely felt bored. But, the truth is, I was not bored, but instead lonely. 

And not lonely because I was alone all the time. I was, in fact, very rarely alone. Keeping my calendar full, my schedule busy. Running from one event to the next, feet never touching the ground. No, I was never alone, but I still felt lonely.

On one particularly frustrating day, I told another friend I was bored. As I said it my voice cracked and I almost started to cry. She looked at me for a minute and asked if I really felt bored, or if I felt lonely? I told her I didn't feel lonely - I was never alone. 

She told me, very carefully: You feel lonely because you don't feel known. 

I wasn't bored. I wasn't alone. But I was lonely, because I felt like a puzzle piece in the world's biggest one million piece puzzle. I felt like a wave in an ocean. We were all moving together, but where were we going? And would anyone notice if I went another direction? 

Sometimes I think in our 20s, whether single, married or dating someone, we can feel very alone. Half of the time we don't know who we are - so how can we even begin to explain it to someone else? Some days I wake up so sure of myself, positive I am making the right choices, going the right direction. But other days I wake up panicked, uncertain. What am I doing with my life? Should I live here, go there? Am I saving enough money? And don't I deserve to indulge sometimes, too? And what about my future, my life plan, my ovaries?

How can we expect others to know us when we're swirling with questions, too? 

But I think we need to give ourselves more grace. Guys, we're just doing our best! And that's great. We have time to figure out all of these answers - they will begin to fall into place. But until then, not everything has to feel perfect, every day.

I was recently talking to a friend about a revelation she'd had. She said: and then I realized, it's OK to admit I'm a little disappointed by this phase of life. 

What? I made her repeat that sentence.

Disappointed by this phase of life.

Interesting. I'd never thought of saying anything like that.

I'm not always rainbows and butterflies, but I definitely see my glass half full. To characterize an entire season of life as "disappointing" felt extreme to me.

But she went on to explain it. It's not that this phase is a failure. It is not that she's angry or unhappy. But, on the whole, she'd say she expected more from it. She thought she'd be married by now, probably with a baby. Or, at the very least, if she was still unwed, she thought she'd have a higher paying job and bigger title (possibly international travel on the docket?). 

She is not disappointed in herself. She's doing her best - giving her all. But she's ready for the next phase. And you know what else? She's a little lonely. And sometimes she feels sad. And she reminded me that it is OK to feel this way. 

I needed that reminder. I think sometimes I put so much pressure on myself to figure it out. I'm sad. Why? I am frustrated. Why? I am nervous. Why, why, why?

But maybe, sometimes it's OK to admit that we're just feeling something because we're real, and our emotions are raw, constantly changing. And that we need grace. We need time to figure things out. We might feel lonely today and like the king of the jungle tomorrow. And that is so, so OK. We don't have to know everything. We just have to do our best and be there for one another when we feel lonely. Because, as I told my friend this week, we are far from alone. In fact, we're all in this big world together.