I had to take a different way home from work the other day and I noticed something: everyone is miserable. No, not groundbreaking news, I know. People were cutting me off left and right and, if I’m totally honest, I got frustrated for a few moments. I am no stranger to road rage, but this was different. I legitimately thought back to my time off and didn’t want to erase that beautiful progress. So I took a breath and saw that people were rushing home. I don’t know their stories. Maybe they have someone at home they need to see or who is waiting for them. Maybe they had a really rough day at work and needed to get out of there and when they couldn’t , they hit traffic.
I understood them differently. It wasn’t just about their stories, it was about the human behind the story. I thought about how many times I’d been angry on the road and how crappy it felt. I thought about how many times I just needed the sanctuary of my home and couldn’t get there fast enough. I thought about how I was doing so many things that made me feel miserable. For those people rushing to cut me off (in bumper to bumper traffic) it wasn’t about me at all. It really isn’t ever personal. They are just as unhappy as I’ve felt and so many of us feel trapped—we don’t know how to get out of that cycle so we have to repeat the same thing every day.
We look at this as a normal part of life—but that isn’t life. Stuck behind the wheel for hours, desperate to get a few cars ahead, only to repeat it all the next day, that isn’t what we are meant for. We are meant to be so much freer than that. I have respect for everyone who is stressed because we are all doing what we have to with what we know—and we do what we know to survive because we think that is how we have to live. I have to ask what we think will happen if we choose to stop living that way. What happens if we decide that the “normal” way of things isn’t working? What if we all pressed pause and found that connection to ourselves? Would you choose to do what you do right now?
If you wouldn’t do it, then you need to find something different. I know I have to reconsider some things. There is no shame in it. There is no shame in a plan not working that you thought would be “it.” There is no shame in picking up and trying something else. We all know what it feels like to feel that way. We all know what it feels like to be “stuck.” So if we learn to give ourselves some grace and compassion for feeling that way, maybe we can start having that power with others as well. We all just need some space to figure it out. We can all choose to not live so stressed. And we can all help those who express their stress differently. We don’t need to be miserable. We can change the narrative.