After graduating college I got a full-time job, went all-in on my podcast, worked out regularly, and felt like a productive Queen.
Don’t you love that? When you’re in one of those phases of your life where you feel like your thriving and nothing can get you down?
That’s why it was confusing when I started feeling stressed, unhappy, helpless, and stuck.
A few months prior I was working at a call center part-time and was worried about financial insecurity (not to mention the job felt unfulfilling). This instability made me feel horrible, but at least it made sense. Of course I felt stuck, I was in a weird position at the time and I knew it’d take a while to get out of it.
But I wasn’t in a weird position now, so I was confused as to why I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be.
The thing is, call center Leeann knew exactly why she was stuck. She didn’t want to work at a call center, she couldn’t do other things she wanted because of her low income, and she hated being cursed out by random callers with no manners.
Leeann at her new job, well that’s very different, because that version of me couldn’t find out why I felt stuck.
I thought I had it all. I guess I did on the outside. My beautiful girlfriend (now my fiancé) was planning to move in with me, my job was in the field I wanted to be in, and I was kind of creating podcasts.
This should’ve been my first sign.
I stopped creating as much, and what I did make wasn’t my best work.
I also started to feel super stressed all of the time, agitated, and bored. And it was incredibly frustrating.
I’m usually a more outgoing person. Not publicly, but like personally. I’ve got a big personality when I’m on my own, with people I’m comfortable with, and when I’m creating. But my personality was starting to feel small and dull.
I’m playful, but I wasn’t playful those few months. I’m goofy, but not when I’m that stressed.
That’s what it feels like to be stuck. We start to feel like shells of our former selves. Where there was once happiness, friendliness, and child-like wonder comes in a dull dread for life.
The worst part was that at some point I realized there might be somethings that could help me. I could change my job and cut back on my podcast. They weren’t making me happy anymore, and that scared the heck out of me.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but the thing that kept me stuck for so long was the fact that I couldn’t embrace making changes in my life. I was too afraid of changing up my identity.
Identity is a really strange and powerful thing. How we perceive ourselves is one of the most powerful tools we have for mindfulness and self-growth.
Psychologists say that changing your self-identity can improve your life. Your self view has a lot to do with your overall happiness and ability to change.
If in my head I’m “Leeann, the girl who runs a limited podcast and works this fancy new job that stresses me out.” it would be really hard to leave behind the podcast and the job. I had (and honestly a lot of the times still do) attached these things to my identity. And the way I view them also impacts how I perform and feel during them.
Changing them isn’t like making the choice of what I’ll have for dinner, it’s changing who I am. It’s also hard to let go of the negative views I’ve put on them since I’ve attached them to my identity.
My identity was limiting myself, that’s why I wish I knew this before.
Don’t let your identity hold you back.
Be mindful of how you view yourself and why you view yourself that way, because people change.
That’s the reason I felt stuck. I think a lot of people get stuck by their identity and fear of change.
My fiancé and I both just switched jobs. It wasn’t an easy choice for either of us, but after talking to each other about who we want to be in our futures, we realized we couldn’t be those people unless we made these big changes.
I left my job because I want to pursue art on my own time.
I am a creative. Instead of setting a big goal around creating (1,000 subscribers or something) I’ve decided to declare myself a creator and work at it everyday. Like the article linked above says, there’s two main shortcomings to setting goals: lack of fulfillment and a loss of inspiration.
Two things that can leave a personal feeling stuck.
I love to write, make videos, and draw. I also like to read, workout, and hangout with my friends and family. My previous job sucked out a lot of my creative energy, and it spilled into my personal time too much. It wasn’t going to fit my identity as a dedicated creator.
My fiancé wanted to get herself into a different job for similar reasons. It didn’t support her plan for the future and who she saw herself being.
Also, I want to be clear this isn’t all about the future. It’s not just that me and her want to be better someday, it’s that we want to be those people we dreamed of now. I’m a creative now. It didn’t take much but freeing up my schedule and deciding that I’m a creative above my work to get things moving.
But there’s more to it than that.
We did more than just move jobs to get out of our “feeling stuck”, we also started shifting our habits and trying new things.
If you’re feeling stuck, but you don’t know what you want to do next, try anything you can get your hands on.
I listed a lot of things I want to do now that I have more time for things, but I can’t pursue all of that at one time.
I’m experimenting right now. It’s frustrating at times, but it’s a necessary step in the process.
Trust the process.
Like Jake The Dog once said “Sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.” (That was my senior quote, not joking.)
Maybe I will be a writer, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll make movies, or maybe I’ll make a fool of myself I don’t know. I’ll never know unless I take those first steps. Trying is the first step to finding something that suites you.
Consider counseling and check in with your support system.
Sometimes the issue runs deeper than a motivational blog post. For me, it was a change in the meds I took and learning to be more honest with my healthcare providers and support system.
I wasn’t feeling good about everything I was doing, which started the feeling of *stuck*, but it wasn’t as simple as leaving my job that helped me. It was also the professional, medical, and family care that I had.
Anxiety and depression are too serious to only rely on strangers on the internet’s advice for a cure. These blog posts are meant to assist people who like to change up their perspective and dig into their feelings, but it’s not meant to replace talking with more experienced individuals.
I also have to say that I used to feel very strange about medication. I felt weird about trying it at first, but it has helped a lot and it’s something I’m glad I tried. I know some people may be nervous to do things like counseling, seeing a psychiatrist, or considering meds, but keep an open mind, do your research, and seek support from your system.
That can be huge for getting out of your “stuck” if it’s deeper than what you’re doing.
Be mindful about it.
Mindfulness is growing in popularity because of it’s versatility. I probably mention it in like 98% of my blogs, because life really does get better with a little mindfulness.
Listen to yourself.
Be mindful of what your emotions and body are telling you.
Like Johann Hari talks about in his book Lost Connections, your emotions are telling you what you need to hear. Just like your tummy will hurt when you’ve eaten something bad, you’re emotions might hurt if you’re not doing the right things for you.
Johann says our feelings are there to guide us in figuring out where our connections have been severed. Are we out of touch with nature? Family? Meaningful work? Our values?
I have a beautiful fiancé. My family is super supportive. So why was I feeling anxious or depressed at times? I think it was my lost connections from meaningful work, nature, meaningful values, and my friends and family.
I was feeling horrible because my job didn’t connect with me, my passion was slipping away from my interest, and I was spending all my time indoors doing things I didn’t want to be doing.
If I had been more mindful of my bad feelings I would’ve seen the issue before it made me unbearably down.
Disclaimer: It’s not easy or accessible to everyone to quit their job. Some people don’t have that option. I feel super lucky that I did. It wasn’t easy, job insecurity didn’t feel good, but I did have my family to fall back on if it really came down to it. So if it’s far out of reach to switch careers or change where you’re at in some ways, I do think that trying to find a way and taking steps toward a new life will help ease the pain.
Maybe see if there are things you can start learning on your own time so you can switch jobs down the road. Something along those lines. Or focus on the other connections. Maybe the job isn’t that great, but can you start spending more time with the people you love? What about going outside more?
I felt so down my last few weeks of the jobs I didn’t like, but submitting applications, looking into school options, and even seeing ways I could independently start working made me feel a bit better. I also hung out with my fiancé and friends more and focused on spending my free time in the best ways that I could so work didn’t feel so bad.
Feeling stuck sucks. But we have to do our best to be mindful and allow ourselves to be openminded so we can un-stick ourselves. We have to see the opportunities that we do have and the areas that we aren’t stuck, so we can work towards being completely unstuck.
And be careful around people who feel stuck and try to pull you down there with them. I’ve had people try to convince me I’m stuck and shouldn’t try to get out, just because they feel that way.
Don’t listen to those people.
I might be a dreamer, but I know that there is always something I can do to at least ease my pain. I don’t have to do only things that make me unhappy. That’s no way to live.
By allowing my identity to be flexible (Leeann the aspiring creator who maybe writes, or makes videos, or just talks about gay stuff) I can do a whole lot more. By trying new things a lot, I can discover hidden talents and find hidden joys.
And by stay mindful I can keep myself from doing things that don’t feel right or aren’t for me.
I was stuck because of my fear of change, and it’s like that for a lot of us. And overcoming that fear is so important for our emotional and mental health.
This could be the start to a whole new life for you. Who Knows?
After doing these four things I feel more inspired then ever. I feel good knowing that I can be whoever I need to be and I can change however I need to change. I have a support system and I’ll be alright as long as I stay mindful about what I’m doing.
In the future, if things start to feel as bad as they did again (they felt so bad friend), I’ll know what things to try.
I’ll keep an open mind about myself, see what I can try next, connect with my support systems, and be mindful about it all.
Until Next Time,