We all have a perception of ‘perfect.’ Try as we might to pretend that we aren’t living this way—aren’t searching and striving for excellence, aren’t beating ourselves up for every failure or wrong turn, aren’t living with our eyes focused on the unobtainable—we are. And yes, it can be a disheartening perspective, but it can also be a motivating one, depending on how we choose to let it shape us.
We spend most of our lives searching for the best. We want to be the best. We want to have the best. We want to live the best life. Thinking and behaving this way isn’t bad. It’s only when we start to let this endless chase control us, and find ourselves falling into a pit of despair when we inevitably aren’t and can’t possess the ‘best,’ that we have to take a step back and realize the ‘best’ isn’t everything.
Life is not about relentlessly pursing something we can’t quite identify. It’s not about running wildly towards a goal we can’t quite name. It’s not about forever feeling inadequate because what we desire for ourselves is always out of reach, even though—and especially because—we might not even recognize it when we have it.
Truthfully, looking and pushing for the best, for a perfect life can be disheartening because we are human, and no amount of work, effort, or even miracles can make our lives completely on ‘the right track.’
Trying to get there is a good thing, but we have to remember that the pursuit is our purpose.
Even if we don’t get there, don’t make it, don’t always go the ‘right’ way—that doesn’t mean our efforts were fruitless. That doesn’t mean we no longer have meaning. That doesn’t mean we are hopeless, or wrong.
Things aren’t always going to go right. They’re not always going to make sense. They’re not always going to go the way we want them to, but that doesn’t dictate our lives. Our resilience does.
We can fall so deeply and selflessly in love with someone, and that doesn’t mean they’ll love us back. We can give our hearts and souls to job and still not secure the position permanently. We can fight for what we believe and still lose the battle. We can do all the right things, make all the right moves, and yet, we can still fall short. Still fall down. Still fall away from what we desire.
This doesn’t mean hope is lost, though.
Just because things won’t always go ‘right’—according to our desires, according to the world and what she says ‘should happen,’ according to the path people have followed before us—doesn’t mean they’re going wrong.
Sometimes the ‘wrong’ turn leads us down the path we were meant to walk upon. Sometimes falling in love with the ‘wrong’ person shows us the love we deserve. Sometimes the job that didn’t pan out pushes us in an entirely different direction. Sometimes goodbyes open the doors to hellos you never imagined.
I don’t know where we learned that life is a two-way street, that if we’re not going the same way as the person next to us, we’re destined to get run over. But that’s not how life works. Life is a maze of highways and backroads, gravel paths and sidewalks, and freeways running wild like crisscrossed veins.
There is no set path to follow, no road that’s ‘right,’ and truthfully, no road that’s wrong.
Just because things aren’t going your way doesn’t mean your life is over. Just because the dream you had for the future was crushed doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the pieces, sweep away the mess, and start believing in something again. Just because you’ve faced loss doesn’t mean that’s all there is.
Every turn, every twist leads you right where you’re meant to be.
And sometimes you won’t recognize that. Sometimes you’ll be so focused on what fell apart that you’ll neglect to see what’s forming right in front of you. Sometimes you’ll be so caught up on the person that left, you’ll fail to believe in love again, even when it’s scratching at your door.
Sometimes life will feel like its crumbling, like all the threads unraveling—but in these moments you will find your greatest strength. You are not, and will never be defined by the mistakes, the pain, the emptiness, the failures, the misguided roads. Take every missed chance as an opportunity, take every ‘bad’ turn as a detour. And keep going. There is no ‘wrong’ way. Keep going.
Featured Image Credit: Sarandy Westfall