Sarah can’t remember what (and if at all) she dreamt of as a child. For a short while she wanted to become a doctor, but that dream was only temporary. What Sarah can still remember well, is that she never quite knew in what direction her life should go. The feeling of meaninglessness and emptiness became stronger over the years and she started looking for a solution to this dilemma.
For a little while she found her “quick fix” in partying, drinking, smoking and hanging around with friends. For the moment it felt good, but it didn’t fill the emptiness inside her long term.
“I was insecure, lacking identity and lonely on the inside. I was overwhelmed by all the possibilities of things that I could have done with my life and at the same time found it difficult to take specific steps without having a broader vision for my life.”
Sarah’s insecurity led her to just live from day to day. It felt good in the moment, but once that moment was gone it didn’t feel at all great any more. Just like a hangover after a night of partying doesn’t feel good at all.
The big question that Sarah asked herself was: Why do I live my life the way I do? What do I even live for? And she didn’t have an answer to these questions. But at some stage she wasn’t content with the unknowingness and superficiality of her life.
Rightly so: A growing body of researchers has found that the feeling that one’s life has meaning is associated with a host of positive health outcomes. A study published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science” shows that living a worthwhile life appears positively linked to just about every aspect of our lives, like social functions, psychological and emotional experiences, economic prosperity, things like sleeping well and time spent doing different kinds of activities.
Another thing that impacts our mental health and quality of life is vulnerability. This has been proven in various studies by the researcher, lecturer and author Brené Brown. “In our culture we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.” (If you are interested in reading more about this topic, I’ve listed some resources below this blog post).
Sarah learned about this in a special way. Two things really made a difference in her life – a life that used to be driven by insecurity and lack of direction:
Sarah decided to live her life with Jesus. He gave her life meaning and helped her to forgive herself and others who had done her harm. Her relationship with God isn’t primarily shaped by rules and laws, but by a friendship, where she feels unconditionally loved and secure. And she knows: “God has a plan for me and he created me for a certain purpose. My existence, my life, has a meaning and a goal.”
Additionally Sarah decided to make herself vulnerable and to confide in people she trusted. Opening up to others took a burden off her shoulders that she wasn’t meant to carry alone. “No one should walk through burdensome situations and challenges all alone. It’s so important to share what’s on your heart. And sometimes we think that we are the only ones feeling a certain way or going through something tough. But that’s not true. Everyone has their story and we are not alone in it.”
As Sarah started to open up to others, she learned the following:
1.As long as you’re being silent and are bottling up your feelings, you often won’t notice the lies and hogwash you’re actually believing. As soon as you are openly voicing those things, it doesn’t only free you, but it also uncovers those lies.
2. Someone from the outside can help you see things/the problem/the situation through different eyes. A change of perspective can bring you clarity and help you find a solution.
3. By opening up, you are all of a sudden not alone anymore. You are sharing the burden and are making life so much easier.
4. A person you can trust can be a friend/a family member, but also a therapist or counselor. There is no shame in getting professional help.
5. To speak from the heart is always better and more helpful than making things up in your mind before you say them.
6. It’s normal to be scared and wanting to retreat just before a conversation like that. But do it anyway and remember: You don’t have to go through this on your own!
7. The more often you make yourself vulnerable, the more normal it becomes. It’s a practise and it’s worth it.
To encourage others Sarah is also sharing publicly about her ups and downs. She wants to help build others up. The following is also meant to encourage you:
“You are strong and can overcome anything. Don’t think that you have to be alone in your battles, because you don’t! To speak about things is better than to keep secrets. And even when everyone else fails you: God is always waiting for you with open arms and He‘s got a good plan for your life!”
Sarah, 27, Berlin
For further reading:
Article about the meaning of life: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-waves/201901/the-power-purpose-and-meaning-in-life
Book about vulnerability: The power of vulnerability, Brené Brown
TedTalk about vulnerability: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?language=de