I know that when life gets hard, it’s easy to feel discouraged. I’ve been there too—and these are a few gentle reminders for anyone who needs to hear them.
Dreams are whispers from your soul. – Unknown
It’s early evening. I’m sitting on my bedroom floor, with the windows open, listening to the faint sound of waves in the distance. I inhale the crisp autumn air, and with the change of season comes the scent of possibility.
In my heart, something is pulling.
Deep down, I know that the life I’m living is miles away from the life that’s meant for me. I start to daydream about change and what it might feel like to do something different—but first, I take a look around.
To my right sits my overflowing closet. The contents are spilling onto the floor next to me, an expansive tangle of handbags and ridiculously high heels.
To my left is my alarm clock, ticking loudly. Time passes too quickly, and I feel a momentary rise of panic as I think about the morning. Another long day is waiting for me, and the weight of my responsibilities already feels unbearable.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I notice the mirror.
I cross the room to stare at my reflection, and this is what I see staring back at me:
… A career that leaves me feeling empty.
… A marriage that doesn’t feel right.
… A mountain of debt that’s slowly drowning me.
I exhale and feel the expectations, fear, and self-doubt settle on my shoulders.
I turn off the light and get into bed, my heart heavy.
When I sat down to write this blog post, this is the woman I thought of—a younger version of myself, alone in her room, trapped by her own fears.
I know that she is not alone. I know that other women are out there, with their souls slowly suffocating, who are holding back from truly living because they’re afraid of failure and judgement.
If you’re one of these women—if like me, you’ve felt the pulling in your heart and the weight on your shoulders—then I wrote this for you.
These are lessons that, at some point, my soul needed to hear. Or perhaps, I still need to hear. I hope they speak to you as well and help you on your path forward.
Gentle Words For When Things Get Hard
I originally wrote this in 2016. Since then, life has gotten arguably harder for people all around the world. I’ve added a few updates, and hopefully, this post finds its way to anyone who needs to read it.
It’s OK not to want what everyone else wants.
Give yourself permission to chase your dreams, not everyone else’s. I know it’s scary. Other people will doubt you. They’ll tell you, “One day, you’ll regret this.”
You’ll start to doubt yourself.
But trust me—when there’s pulling in your heart, it doesn’t go away, and ignoring it will only cause you more pain in the long run.
I’ve walked away from careers, a marriage, a home and most of the ‘things’ I spent my life accumulating, and it has never been easy. But I know what feels right, and I know I’ll never regret being true to myself.
RELATED POST: How Defining My Core Values Changed My Life
It’s OK to change your mind about what you want.
I know we just established that it’s tough to be true to yourself and chase your dreams. So I understand that it’s even tougher to change your mind.
It often means starting at square one and taking three giant steps backwards when everyone else seems to be moving forward with their lives.
But remember this: trying new things means that you’re brave enough to take chances—and changing your mind means you’re wise enough to learn from the experiment.
Don’t be scared or embarrassed to change course if you notice something isn’t working for you. You weren’t ‘wasting’ your time. You were learning and growing and being perfectly human in a very imperfect world.
You are not defined by what you own or how you earn your living.
You are defined by how you make people feel, by how you treat small animals, by what makes you laugh—and by what makes you cry.
You are not defined by the shoes in your closet, the car in your garage, or the number on your paycheque.
What you “do” is what you’re passionate about—it might be your career, but it doesn’t have to be.
Don’t be limited by the labels other people give you. You are intrinsically worthy and wonderful, and you don’t have to prove this to anyone.
Anger and fear are normal emotions.
For a long time, I hated myself for feeling angry or afraid. I thought it was a sign of weakness, and I was ashamed of myself for being vulnerable.
But time has taught me that these intense emotions are not something to hide; instead, research shows that they are actually crucial to our well-being.
Anger can help us understand our priorities (after all, we often feel angry when our values have been violated) or allow us to understand our needs better. And I’ve learned that embracing fear can lead to a great adventure!
Expressing your emotions is a sign of humanity and authenticity, and there is never any shame in being yourself. Instead of suppressing emotions, try to listen and learn from them.
Something doesn’t have to last forever to be successful or valuable.
One thing I’ve heard time and time again (and occasionally thought to myself), whenever considering a career or relationship change, is, “There goes x years of my life—wasted!“
It’s a haunting thought.
But please—let’s consider a different way of thinking.
After all, what is success? What makes something valuable?
Were there beautiful mornings? Was there laughter? Did you learn something about yourself? Do you have memories that you’ll treasure forever?
I know that when life gets hard, it’s easy to want to write off our mistakes. But the truth is that the seasons of our lives will change, and they are all beautiful in their own way.
Related Post: 10 Simple Pleasures That Make Life Beautiful
Your happiness is a valid reason for wanting or doing something.
And finally—you don’t owe anyone an explanation for following your heart and doing what brings you joy.
But if you do feel obligated to respond, your happiness is reason enough. You don’t need to explain yourself any further.
You are important, your feelings are important, and your dreams are important.
Please always remember that.
Life Will Be Hard (Final Thoughts)
No matter what you do to simplify or create ease, there will always be times when life gets hard. Complex feelings and experiences are the inevitable reality of being alive.
What isn’t predetermined is how we deal with our pain, fear, and insecurities. We can either face these challenges head-on (and learn from the mistakes and the mess) or look elsewhere for relief.
In my experience, the latter is almost always short-lived. New shoes might bring momentary joy, and keeping busy will keep you numb … but eventually, we all have to face the truth of who we are.
The question is, how will we cope? Will we find the courage to make hard choices, feel our big feelings, and start over if we need to? Or will we hide what’s in our hearts, settling for a life half-lived—one that feels safe but slowly eats away at you?
These aren’t easy choices, but I hope you know that whatever you’re facing, you are not alone. The world is full of beautiful, messy people who make life worth living, and I hope this post reminds you that you are one of them.
Everyone is on a different path, and there is no one size fits all solutions. But two things that have helped me immensely over the years are simple and intentional living.
Here are a few blog posts that highlight the struggles I’ve faced and the strategies that have helped me find my way again.
- Why Your Life is Busy + Cluttered (Plus What to Do About It)
- Doing Less + A Lesson in Self-Worth
- How I Became a Minimalist: My Story of Living with Less
- What I Know About Grief + Hope (A Story About Loss)
What would you share with someone going through a hard time? Share your wise words in the comments!