I was recently talking to a friend who has an adult son who is about 23 years old and has anxiety. My friend detailed how her son won’t graduate from college as planned this year and how frustrated he is with the problems he has with his life plans. Then my smart friend talked about how sometimes you feel like you’re failing, but it’s really just a pivot.
I think back to when I was that age. I’ve started my first job (ahem, at Caller-Times) and I’m not doing well because I’m qualified and naive. Like my dad said, when you’re young and stupid, you’re young and stupid. I moved home (Dallas) to my parents’ house and mourned the life I would never have.
However, I can’t stop being obsessed with this life. I can only see one path to success and I screwed it up. My self-esteem took a hit, as did my confidence in my abilities. I can’t let go of the idea that my life is over. “When God closes a door, he opens a window” repeated in my mind, but I was sure that the path to happiness would never be fulfilled again.
Boy, am I wrong.
I overcame the problem of being a reporter. A few years later, I used my writing skills in other ways and moved back to Corpus Christi after reuniting with my boyfriend. Now we are happy with two kids and five cats. Is it inappropriate for me to have a column in Caller-Times now? I circled around.
We all do eventually. My friend’s son will understand this. He’ll realize that when he stops, it’s not always a dead end. Many paths lead to happiness and success. Just because you’re not where you think you should be doesn’t mean it’s not for you. The life you want will change, the people you love will change, and so will you. Instead, you will grow.
I have faced disappointments, devastating at first, most recently a six-week stay in a mental hospital. I don’t think I can be happy again. I thought I was buying time until I killed myself. But we grow by challenging ourselves and our ideas about life. I smile thinking of that 22 year old because I never thought I would be so happy and receive so much love and support. Like my dad said, when you’re young and stupid, you’re young and stupid.
So next time you’re discouraged, look around. Maybe you just need to blaze a new trail. Or just pivot.
It will be scary, but well worth it.
For more than 20 years, Heather Loeb has experienced severe depression, anxiety and personality disorders while also battling mental health stigma. She is the creator of Unruly Neurons (www.unrulyneurons.com), a blog dedicated to normalizing depression, and a member of the state House of Representatives. Todd Hunt’s Suicide Prevention Task Force.
Now more than ever, we need to take care of our mental health. Guest columnist Heather Loeb discusses why and explores other important mental health topics in this special series.