I recently finished reading a great book by Iyanla Vanzant called In the Meantime. It’s mostly about romantic relationships and how to get through them when they don’t work out, what you can learn from them and how to enjoy the in between stages; but soon after finished reading it I realized that the meantime can refer to much more than just relationships – it can refer to your career, a business, cultivating a healthy lifestyle or your Quarter Life Crisis.
The fact of the matter is that the meantime is any time you feel like you’re in the between stages of something. It may be that stage when you know you’re on to something and you’re scared shitless. Or, it may be the time between relationships. It may be that time you’re hustling to finish some big goal.
I then noticed how I’m in a lot of meantimes. I recently got out of a relationship, I’m in the between stages of getting my coaching certification and running a business, I just started eating really healthy, I’m still in the first stages of my career and my blog is constantly in the meantime as I learn about online marketing and creating streams of income.
You may be experiencing some of your own meantimes as well. Moving back home into your parents’ house (been there). Job hunting (been there too). Getting out of debt. Finishing school. Grad school applications. Relationships (Haven’t we all been there?). The list goes on and on.
It turns out that life is full of meantime experiences, and sometimes we get caught up in them and panic.
So how do we deal? How do we go from one stepping stone to another without completely losing our footing?
Step One: Become the witness.
This is probably one of the hardest parts in regard to moving on during meantime stages. While it’s great and very healthy to let out your emotions, there’s a difference between release and attachment.
We have to actively practice becoming the witness of our thoughts. Granted, we can’t always do this and we gotta cut ourselves some slack every once in a while, but for the most part we can catch ourselves when our minds are fabricating some crazy stuff.
Do any of these sound familiar?
“He/She hasn’t called. They obviously don’t care. What an asshole. I’m not worth it.” (Can’t they just be busy? And I don’t know – maybe just be human and dealing with emotions too?)
“I can’t start my own business because I’ll fail.” (And what if you don’t fail? What if at the very least, you created an extra source of income if not a full time gig?)
“If I don’t have my life figured out by x date I’m doomed.” (Really? Are you going to actually die? I think not.)
“Although I hate my boss and my job, I can’t leave because then what will I do?” (Find another job. Figure it out. The same thing people who quit their jobs have been doing for ages.)
“I’m stuck here.” (You’re only stuck if you allow yourself to be stuck.)
And on and on and on.
If we take a second to just witness our thoughts instead of totally getting caught up in them we can see how ridiculous they really are.
Step Two: Strength in numbers.
As of late my best friend and I have been having what she calls “anger spirals.” We both just got out of romantic relationships and have been dealing with the aftermath. While on the one hand we’re dealing with hurt and anger, we’re also completely excited by the wealth of opportunity laid out before us. The combination of these two extreme (and polar opposite) emotions have left us both feeling very overwhelmed and anxious.
We’re both in a major meantime stage. Fresh out of relationships and onto something big in respect with our own lives and careers. We’re young, ambitious and hard working; but we also know there’s a mountain of stuff we need to get done on this big blue marble if we are to reach our goals – all while we try to move on from pain and love ourselves in the process.
Enter anger spirals. And overwhelm. And Gchats where we hold ourselves accountable and call each other out on our ridiculous spirals.
My point is there’s strength in numbers. Not in the sense that misery loves company, but that an outsider can call you out on your shit.
Confide what you’re feeling to a friend. Let them call you out. And if need be, go through the meantime stage together.
Step Three: Find the opportunity.
Meantime stages can lead to a lot of opportunity, but only if you allow yourself to see it. Lost your job? Start a business. Got dumped? Get fit. Take up a new hobby. Learn something new.
I got dumped and picked up mixed martial arts. I went without a job for months after graduating, so I started freelancing to make extra cash (which I still do). I was overwhelmed by the mere thought of adulthood, so I started this blog. I wasn’t digging my first job, so I quit and found a new one that gives me great writing material.
There’s always opportunity lying underneath all the messy meantime stuff. You just have to find it.
Step Four: Pause.
I’m one of those people who likes to hit the ground running. My patience runs thin, I like to get things done fast and I forget to take a step back and pause. This especially happens when I’m dealing with emotional stuff. I avoid it. I load up my schedule and keep myself so busy I don’t have time to think.
Some of you personal development/ambition junkies may very well be the same way. Always busy, never pausing for a second.
The good news – I at least know my patterns.
The bad news – It’s very hard to break patterns. Especially patterns we’ve been accustomed to for a very long time.
But dammit I am trying! I’ve almost got my daily meditation practice down packed. I am making sure to put in the time to clear my head, be still and be present. And truthfully, that’s when I have felt most at peace during these meantime stages.
I will also be taking a major step back this weekend as take a break from my coaching classes. We need to allow ourselves to rest. It’s all a part of self care.
If you find yourself in the meantime, I highly suggest checking out Iyanla Vanzant’s book (especially if you’re moving out of a romantic relationship). I also recommend taking the time to really take care of yourself, do some exploring and try new things.
You never know what this crazy life will bring us, and sometimes it takes a meantime situation to shed some light on it.
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