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I Sometimes Feel Like I’m Nothing
Kaitlyn McQuin explores feelings of missed opportunities
Sometimes, I hop into my car and drive. I do this on stressful days, lonely days, days where I want to feel like I have somewhere to go, even if I don’t. It’s become more common in the pandemic, since plans are limited and human contact is, too. So, I get into my car, I blast music, and I drive.
Life lately has felt less than stellar. January has been a wildly stressful month for me and with personal issues to navigate on top of the pandemic, an insurrection in Washington, D.C., and not feeling excited for much, life has felt pretty uneventful. It makes me sad. I’ll be honest and say that. It makes me sad to wish time would pass by quickly so we can be one step closer to normalcy. It makes me sad to wake up and genuinely think, “This again?”
I talked with my therapist several weeks ago and told her I sometimes feel like nothing.
“Nothing?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “I feel like nothing in a sea of people who are something.”
I know something I said resonated with my therapist, because her eyes widened, she took a deep breath, and she said, “Wow.” I didn’t blame her, though. Me saying I felt like nothing was deserving of a wow, because most people wouldn’t believe I could ever think of myself as such. From the outside looking in, it seems like I have it all together. I make people laugh, I entertain, I’m single and not miserable about it, I write as my job, and I live in an amazing city surrounded by friends, family, and my rescue dog, Lucy. My life appears to be perfect. And while I know that I am wildly blessed, I still, well… I get sad. I try to maintain a degree of vulnerability online and in my writing, but I don’t share every single detail and truth. And one of those truths is that I struggle with anxiety, depression, and genuinely believing at times that I am nothing.
On my road trip to nowhere the other day, I was speeding down the Interstate singing along to Taylor Swift’s “Marjorie”, a song that reminds me so very much of my own grandmother – a woman who claimed she would see my name in lights one day. I believe her. I passed under a sign that read, “Missed your exit? That’s ok. Another one ahead.” I went silent, my eyes immediately filled with tears, and I screamed. I do that sometimes when I’m in my car. I scream. Most people would have seen the sign and thought nothing of it, but, to me, it was everything. It was a sign in more ways than one, a reminder that what I want can be achieved, a reminder from my guardian angels, or spirit guides, whatever you may believe in, to keep going. A reminder that opportunity is before me, and it’s never too late to try again. And we’ll never miss what is meant for us. We just might have to take a detour to get there. It got me thinking about how that’s somehow both the hardest and most beautiful part of it all, isn’t it? The journey to where we want to go?
I’m twenty-nine years old and single. I’m not exactly where I’d like to be career-wise, but I’m certainly not where I was this time last year. I’ve found peace in my singlehood and peace in my career, but I’d be lying if I said both didn’t make me restless from time to time. Because they do. As the days and weeks and months pass by where I don’t receive magical, positive, life-changing news that I so deeply long for, I feel as though I’m doing something wrong. Like I haven’t seized the day enough or said yes to opportunities enough or made moves to benefit my happiness and career enough.
I feel like I’m failing, or, worse, stagnating. Waiting for something that will never come. Quite simply, I oftentimes feel as though I missed my exit, and now my life is to be spent speeding down a road to nowhere wishing I could reverse it all and try again.
I think back sometimes and wonder why I didn’t move to Los Angeles after college, or why I haven’t taken a several month-long writer’s retreat this year, or why I sometimes feel so afraid and so undeserving of my wildest dreams. Why, why, why… and much like an exit missed on the Interstate, it is pointless to spend time thinking you can go back in time and change things. Because you can’t. But that doesn’t make my desire for it any less, and it certainly doesn’t quench the burning flames of failure that reside in my gut that feel responsible for my future and my fate.
Quite simply, I oftentimes feel as though I missed my exit, and now my life is to be spent speeding down a road to nowhere wishing I could reverse it all and try again.
The truth of the matter is that I have let some opportunities pass me by, and the ones that I have said no to have been turned down for a reason. I have to learn (and remember) to trust my intuition when it comes to decision-making. Missing out on opportunities that we want is devastating, but losing ourselves in opportunities we have no interest in is just as detrimental to our wellbeing. The Universe won’t punish us for saying no to something we don’t want. It will only open doors for other opportunities that might be the right fit.
If we live in a world where there’s hope, then we live in a world where there’s vision for something better. And if we live with a vision, we live with believing it’ll come. And if we believe it will come, then we have to believe moving forward, staying focused, and knowing there are more opportunities, opportunities that are meant for us, opportunities we feel in our gut are ours for the taking, is the truth.
And I want to live in a world of truth. A world of honesty, hope, and belief in something better. A world where, even when I feel like nothing, I know I’m something. A world with many exits.
Life is hard right now. We have been tested time and time again this year by forces outside of our control. The last thing we should be doing is testing ourselves on top of it all.
I want to live in a world where, even when I feel like nothing, I know I’m something.
If you feel like nothing, might I suggest doing something? Hop in your car and take a drive. Teach yourself a song on the ukulele. Fire up old episodes of your favorite television show. Cry. Scream. It’s in the moments when we feel like there’s nothing to hold onto that we usually find a sign to keep us going. So, embrace your nothingness if you feel it. Grasp the air for something steady, even if it’s not there. Lean into the void and do whatever it takes to keep moving forward.
There’s another exit up ahead. Turns out, you didn’t miss the last one, after all. There was just more for you to see on the road to where you’re meant to be.