12 Good Things About Being Stuck In A Rut

I’m in a strange emotional rut these days. The past few months have been some of the most eventful I’ve ever had. They’ve been full of revelations, confusions, major changes, and new conclusions about what life means to me — but instead of making me wiser, all these new thoughts and the baggage surrounding them have remained in a messy, unprocessed pile in my mind. I keep hoping all that mental muck will move me forward by positively impacting my choices or providing me with a surge of writing inspiration. I’d like to believe that over time, once I’ve processed things more, they will, but for now they just stagnate and trap me in some unnameable limbo.

I can’t pinpoint my feelings in the moment despite my emotions dictating my day. I sit down to write and don’t know what to say. I wake up on a day off and despite having a full list of things I’d like to accomplish, have no idea how to make use of the hours in front of me. The things I say and think are increasingly reflecting a bored, unimpressed, cynical person — someone I surely don’t see myself as or want to be. Part of this is just the fact that it’s February — I’ve never fared well emotionally in the winter — but it definitely spans beyond a typical winter funk. I have so many feelings and half-thoughts rattling around, but can’t seem to get them onto paper or really into any kind of sensical, tangible form (yet!) like I have at other confusing times in life. Instead, it shows up in my everyday life as a vague “meh” mood, a questioning of every choice I’ve ever made, and a feeling that there’s a sneaking something in my life throwing me off. Fun!

Ruts (or, in Ami’s words, paper bags), happen to just about all of us at one time or another. I don’t have the answers, but I do know that while finding a way out takes action on our part, it also takes patience. I need to give things some time to even out, and in the meantime, all I can really do is remind myself of the reasons a rut might be considered a good thing. If you’re also lost in the land of existential crises, keep these 12 positives in mind to get you through.

1. It’s a chance to read about new concepts you’d never heard of, try new hobbies that scare you, and indulge in some glorious self-help book escapism.

2. You can discover parts of yourself you never knew existed and get a better grasp of what truly makes you happy, which you’ll need to know for the next time life hits you with a curveball.

3. You can consider what you really want in your life instead of what you thought you were supposed to want, and find the joy in considering just how many paths and ways of living exist in this world. If you reassess and realize you still love your life the way it is, you can sleep well at night knowing you’re living the way you really want to.

4. You have a chance to appreciate the people and things in your life that do feel right, and nurture those things.

5. I tend to side-eye the line of thinking that rough patches are good for making you a stronger person, because it seems so nonsensical — if we didn’t have rough patches to begin with, why would we need to become stronger people anyway? That said, I’m going to remind you that crap like this makes you stronger, and that we do live in a world where strength of character can get you further.

6. It’s a chance to force yourself outside your comfort zone and into a whole new world of ideas you never knew existed.

7. It’s a chance to remember that at the end of the day, you are you, rather than the activities and material things you surround yourself with to create a false sense of identity.

8. At some point in your rut you’ll probably do a major overhaul of your organization system in desperate hopes it will re-boot your inspiration. Even if that gets you no closer to enlightenment, you’ll still end up with a newly tidy home and improved productivity game.

9. You’re likely putting serious scrutiny into your behavior patterns to try to figure out what is and isn’t working for you, and that will have the lovely effect of making you a better friend, partner and family member.

10. It’s a chance to discover a new creative outlet.

11. It’s an opportunity to cultivate your courage, because when your back is against the wall and it would be impossibly miserable not to change certain aspects of your life, you suddenly make the kinds of bold leaps you never thought you were capable of.

12. When in doubt, taking an action — any action — is infinitely better than sitting around pondering. Finding yourself stuck in a rut is a chance to move forward by jumping right in and trying things until something sticks. By making a move, you’re going places, even if you don’t know exactly where just yet.

[Image via Shutterstock]