I’m nineteen years old, and I’m choking on my comfort. The very thing I thought would bring me freedom is tying me down tighter every day. I’ve chased comfort as though it’s the goal of my life. But every time I think I succeed, the comfort seems to slip right through my tightly locked fingers—coaxing me even further into its deceit. Comfort promises a life that is good and predictable and orderly. It promises a good life that will make you . . . happy. It promises you’ll stay safe and be successful and life will finally be . . . easy. But really, I’m just trying to be someone who looks good on paper.
And I feel like a shadow of who I’m created to be.
My soul is tired of pretending. I want to live a life that matters. But I’m not even sure what that means.
I’m looking for a life that is adventurous and wild and full and exciting. I used to dream and plan and create goals and write bucket lists. I thought at this point of my life, I would have built five schools in developing countries and backpacked across Europe and rescued girls off the street in Thailand and rock climbed in Yosemite and empowered every homeless family in downtown Chicago.
But instead, I find myself lying in bed, my alarm clock blaring, the freezing winter air shoving me back under the covers. Eventually, I get up, take a shower, and grab the lunch I packed for the day. My car doesn’t start because it’s older than I am, and I fumble nervously with the jumper cables. Finally, I am on my way, texting frantically at a stop light to let the team know I’m running late. Overwhelmed and discouraged, I get to the office and throw my stuff down on my desk as I hustle to the meeting and collapse in a chair around a large round table.
I try hard to focus on the meeting, but the daily narrative once again plays on loop in my head:
I want to live a life that matters. But this isn’t it.
Someone calls on me, and I am dragged back into reality. I quiet my soul. I tell her to behave. I tell her to stop. I don’t want to hear those thoughts anymore. They’re not practical. They’re not attainable. My soul is exhausted as she boldly competes with the rush, the hurry, the loud pace of my life. My soul was once bright, neon, wild—and now she seems to have retreated so deeply within me, I can barely hear her tired voice pleading for a chance to come alive again. I know something needs to change.
I have heard whispers of the kind of life I wanted to live. I’ve seen glimpses of a different type of existence. I’ve read stories full of wild meaning; I just don’t know how to write my own. If I am ever going to live a life that matters, I know everything needs to change.
Later that night, I sit in a room of young adults on a bone-chilling, February, Chicago night and I hear the same longing, the soundtrack of my generation. Not like my favorite soundtrack that I’d pop in for a weekend road trip, more like the broken record player you’d find at a great aunt’s house that plays the same shrill melody over and over and over. Everyone is annoyed by it, but no one tries to fix it.
We are dripping with dreams. We feel the rumblings of more, knowing the world is broken and wanting to have a part in making it right. And on this dreary winter night, I look around and know that every person in this room is packed with potential.
Each of us longs, aches, for all that life could be.
But something holds us back. I shift awkwardly in my seat. It feels like someone has sucked the oxygen out of the room. We desperately yearn for a life full of deep relationships and loud laughter and authentic faith, of thrilling adventure and world-changing risk and wide-eyed wonder. But the dreary conversation settles, instead, on why that life is just too far out of reach for our normal, ordinary existence. Work is hard. Life is rough. Relationships are difficult. Responsibility feels stifling. We drearily ponder what to do with our lives.
We have become discouraged, tame, quiet, unsure. Our vision and potential and passions and dreams are sitting off in a corner, collecting dust, their colors fading with each passing day. Resignation has seeped into our everyday lives, convincing us the impossible we once dreamed of was just that: impossible. And one by one, we are missing the story we were created to write.