Unsticking the Stuckness

oh-the-places-youll-go“I feel stuck,” she whined.  “It feels like everyone is moving forward without me.  This one is dating, that one is achieving, and I….I am going sideways.”

Principessa is in the Waiting Place –  that frustrating place in the Great Balancing Act of Life.  I remember when the Waiting was a place I loathed.  I too, was a teen itching for excitement and forward motion.  These days, as a parent, the ‘nothing is happening’ place is a welcome reprieve from the ordinary chaos.   It represents safety and calm.  Not so for an eager teen teetering on the edge of the nest.  She is percolating with frustration and worry.

I ask Principessa to look at the bare-limbed trees outside.  They are resting.  Months ago they dropped their leaves in order to preserve energy for the Spring revival.  The trees didn’t worry when they lost their leaves because they knew that their season to shine would come around again.  They just had to be patient.

But it’s hard to believe in seasons when you’re a teen.  NOW is where it’s at.  I. Want. It. NOW.  Which is just another version of ‘I’m not enough as I am.’ Whenever I hear this ‘not enough’ story, (including from myself,) I follow with the question, “Not enough for whom?”

We could spend a lifetime chasing ourselves with a stick, slinging accusations and pointing out failures, which is essentially what we do when we entertain self-criticism.  We think that comparison keeps us motivated to achieve.  We are convinced that without ‘not good enough’ we are in danger of falling behind.  In truth, the only purpose it serves is to keep us in a perpetual state of anxiety.

Long ago I read this bit of wisdom:  Perhaps the question is not, ‘How can I be who I want to be?’ but rather, ‘How can I want to be who I am?’  Loving the self is tricky business.  Contentment is often confused with complacency or vanity.

I remind Principessa to stay in her own lane and keep her eyes on the road.  If your attention is on the person who’s passing you and you’re worried about falling behind, who’s driving your life?

My words of wisdom barely hold the teen tears at bay.  In a final attempt at rescuing Principessa from herself, I gather her in a cuddle and begin to read to her for the first time in many years.

Somehow you’ll escape

All that waiting and staying.

You’ll find the bright places

Where Boom Bands are playing.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

As you already know.

You’ll get mixed up

With many strange birds as you go.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, You’ll move mountains!

I felt Principessa’s body lighten.  “I never understood this book when I was little.  Now I do.” she said quietly, then leaned in for a kiss.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for getting the job done.  You were a genius!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elizabeth Palmer
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 10:33:18

    Good advice for a teen or 38 year old;)

    Reply

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