I remember my first year sober being quite difficult and mostly spent trying to just stay sober. I didn’t wonder much about who I was, and what I liked, and what my future looked like. OK, that is not entirely true, I worried a whole lot about my future, but all of my energy was really focused on living the day-to-day life without picking up a drink.
But sometime after the first year, I started feeling a bit lost. I never really thought about what I wanted to do with my life before getting sober and I certainly did not think about what it would look like when and if I got sober. I had many fears about my future and I had no idea where to start.
If you are finding yourself in the same predicament, consider a few of these suggestions to get you going in the positive direction:
- Remember what you love to do? Do you remember the last time you had fun in your life? Do you remember when things felt easy and in the flow? Often in depths of our addictions, we lose sight of how amazing life could be because we are consumed by keeping our addictions thriving. Now that we are sober, it’s time to reconnect with what we once loved and take action on it. Make a commitment to investigate the possibility of once again pursuing your dreams!
- Give yourself some time and space to get away from the expectations, the conversations, the noise, the media, and the pressure. If you have spent many years in addiction, chances are that many others in your age group are, what seems like, way ahead of you in life. Comparing where you are and where they are, is not productive. Focus on you only.
- Take some time each day to go for a long walk and think. Plant yourself on a park bench and look. Take a long, thoughtful road trip. Whatever you do, move away from anything that distracts you from contemplating your life and where you want it to go. In solitude, you should feel independent and self-sufficient, not lonely, needy or afraid.
- Take yourself out of your comfort zone for an extended period. Take note of how you adjust outside of your comfort zone and you will notice things about yourself you never did before. This may help guide you into the direction of your future goal.
- Make sure no one influences who you are; listen to others and learn from them but let the final choices, decisions, and acceptances be your own. If you simply capitulate to what others think, it will make finding yourself even harder since people are influencing who you think you are.
- Resist the urge to feel like you’re the only one going through this. In Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison once summed this up well:
All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself.
Of course, if you are still having a hard time figuring it all out don’t be afraid to sleep on it. There’s no hurry in making decisions, and you’ll be more likely to make good ones if your mind is calm and rested.
In the end, there is no right or wrong way, so don’t worry so much. For you, it just might be a flowing journey, and for others maybe a thought out a detailed list of goals! Either way, focus on your recovery first, and the rest will fall into place!