Doesn’t it sometimes seem as though life is a giant puzzle that needs to be solved? Like we’re all protagonists in a movie trying to stumble through the fog in search of answers. We’re Romy and Michele realizing they don’t need anyone’s approval at Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. We’re Buzz figuring out he is indeed a toy and not a Space Ranger in Toy Story. We’re Kristen Wiig choosing to finally take control of her life and start baking again in Bridesmaids. Almost every story ever told involves a character experiencing a moment of awakening. A personal revelation that will lead to a full and satisfying life.

Except, life is not like the movies.

Life is far more messy and complicated than art can ever imitate. In reality, real awakenings are a long and uncomfortable process. We are all in a constant struggle to figure out our place in the world. Whether we are struggling with relationships, our identity, or even our professional trajectory, we are not alone. 

Here’s an example.

Perhaps you have known for a long time that your relationship with alcohol is not healthy. Deep down, you’re aware you should stop drinking. But you’re not passing out on a park bench with a brown paper bag full of cheap liquor. On the surface, you have everything in check. Admitting to yourself you have an issue is one thing, admitting it to everyone else is another. 

Or, maybe you married for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe you’ve created an entire family based on false foundations. You know you’re going through the motions and it’s painful and depressing. But you’re resigned to your fate because it would be heart breaking for a lot of people if you revealed your truth. 

It’s too easy to ignore your gut instinct and continue behaving in a way that society expects you to. Accepting that something no longer serves you takes a lot of courage. Real, honest awakenings are debilitating. They’re raw.

There is so much pressure from society at large to fit into certain boxes.

Admitting that we are tired of making ourselves small and complacent in order to make everyone else feel at ease, is terrifying. 

Terrifying but liberating.

Once we stop making excuses for ourselves and break free from self-imposed limitations, we are ready to live truthfully. Life is too short to not embrace who we intrinsically are. We are more useful members of society when we come from a place of authenticity. That could be a small action such as saying no to a friend’s request. Or a big gesture such as turning your back on a religion that no longer speaks to you.

Awakenings are beautiful. Shifting our perspective from time to time is necessary and rewarding. Too many people get caught up in trying to be the person they’re expected to be. For some reason, being yourself is an act of bravery in this day and age. Leaning into moments of clarity instead of pushing them aside will undoubtedly lead to a much more satisfying life.