Feeling Displaced: You’re More Than Just Your Feelings

As re-booters, we all can relate to those times where we’ve felt displaced in our own lives. You know, that sense of incredulity that this is our life, this is how we’re living. Dismayed, we shake our heads. “What happened?” we wonder. Our lives don’t need to be “all bad” to feel this way, either. Some parts can be going along quite well (or at least predictably), but that doesn’t keep us from the occasional spell of dismay.


Of course, everyone experiences feelings like this. No matter how together or fantastic their lives may appear, they, too struggle. But my first example will be drawn from someone whose life matches none of those superficial “together” criteria: me. These past few years, my life has been a case study of disruption and disarray. Ultimately, I believe these growing pains will be worth it, and I am deeply grateful to have escaped the hell I was living, but earlier today, as I was changing the sheets on my bed, it hit me that it feels like I’m living in a college dorm again—crappy sheets and old towels, a bulletin board festooned with various photos and comics, desk-sized table lamps, unappetizing food in the freezer. I’ve traveled such a long, hard road, and this is where I’ve landed? Jesus.


And yet, as I remind myself, we could transform the scene, but retain the confused distress, to a much more hip and tony setting–some cool apartment around the corner from a trendy downtown district or a gracious multi-bedroom home where family vacation photos and cozy decor welcome all who enter. Still, even here, even in these idealized scenes of domestic bliss, the inhabitants can feel lost, unsettled, and confused. Despite all that we have, we continue to feel lonely or displaced. Although we scramble to fulfill those responsibilities we absolutely have to meet, the joy, anticipation, and connection we felt once upon a time has dissipated. What happened? We go through the motions because we have to and because we don’t know what we’d do instead. It’s how a lot of people—most maybe—live their lives. It’s why they throw themselves into work or raising children or develop disturbing obsessions with Star Trek. The idea of grappling with the free fall of life outside this one, central focus can be terrifying.


Re-booters have been there—probably more than once. We know what it means to feel dislocated. But, we also know that there’s more to the story. As listless and discouraged as I feel living in my erstwhile dorm room, as unsure and bleak as my career prospects appear, they only feel that way. What I feel isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of reality. Intellectually, I know things will get better—the odds are with me, and I’m far too stubborn to give up. I take comfort in the fact that who I’ll be when I get through this is a smarter, stronger, and more patient version of who I am today.


What about you? Is there a part of your life where you feel displaced or out of sorts? What troubles you so? How long have you felt like this? Can you think back to a time when you felt happy and fulfilled in your life?


When reflecting upon our anxieties, it’s important to remind ourselves that we are much more than our disappointments or frustrations. The strongest part of us originates in our talents, our skills, and the things that bring us joy. You love to sing and you’re feeling the blues? Belt one out! Hum a little tune to get started. Don’t just sit there, staring at the tube while you nurse a drink. When we don’t know what to do, it’s wise to return to those basic activities that nurture us—if you like to cook, cook; if you like woodworking, haul out that saw; get out on the links and hit some balls; set up that easel and start painting. Return to the things you love and, eventually, you’ll find your way. Re-booters remember that there’s a whole lot more to us than our displacement. It’s not forever.


When I think about tragedies like Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 or the recent suicide of a high profile fashion designer, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here, living my imperfect, rough-edged life. I commend myself for having the courage and will and good fortune that I get to figure my way through this mess and live. Those poor people don’t have that chance. Feeling displaced or lost or lonely can feel terrible, I know, but remember you’re never alone–never. There’s an entire world of re-booters out there who can sympathize and support—it’s where the virtual and the real come together. So, on those days when you wonder if you’ll ever “find your place” in life, remind yourself that what you feel isn’t necessarily accurate or definitive. People believe all sorts of wrong things. You are here because you have work to do, lessons to learn, love to give, and people who care very much about you. Lean on them when you can’t stand on your own. A re-booter stands at the ready.


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