We have all been there. Come on, you must remember how it feels, just focus a little bit, just a tiny bit more. Being stuck in between is so forgettable among the oh so many feelings that we go through every day, but we’ve all experienced it. Just stop reading for a few seconds, close your eyes and remind yourself of the last time when you were neither here nor there nor anywhere, really.
Today we’re taking a ride into that horrid place – but we’ll come out of this victorious. I hope. After all, the land of in between is probably the single most predictable place on Earth.
What even is this in between?
When I was considerably younger, I wrote what was meant to be a novel, I think, but it turned into a pile of unfinished pages (finishing my writing has not been my forte lately). The premise of the story was quite simple: there was a man and another man, and one of them shot the other. But I never intended to address the regular questions: why did he do it?, what happened next?, is the other man a father to the now no longer half but fully parentless orphans? Not that they are bad questions, no; as a writer I just wasn’t interested in them. They were all about beginnings and actions and endings and consequences.
I wanted to know what happened in between.
The very moment between pulling the trigger and the bullet hitting the other person, that’s what I was looking for. Back then I was going through my own in between hell, no longer a high schooler, waiting for my University enrolment so… purposeless, and this idea of two men and one gun just spoke so greatly to my imagination. You see, in between presents a paradox I can never shake off myself: it is the only place in time when everything can be changed and nothing can be changed at all, both existing at the same time.
There are so many in betweens in our lives; not only the times in between that seem to bother me, but also general life in betweens, when we are no longer one person but not quite yet the other. Don’t confuse them with journeys though – journeys require actions while in betweens want us to stand by and wait till the whole matter is resolved without our assistance. They can last anything from a flutter of an eyelid to years. Sometimes they camouflage themselves behind Big Words and Fantastic Ideas, but at the end of the day they are just what they are – moments in between our lives being ours.
So how do I cope with my in betweens?
Step 1: Recognize that you’re stuck in between
Do you remember ever muttering to yourself the dreaded: All we have left is to wait? Bingo, you’ve been in between. At least that’s how I define it for myself – that moment when everything falls out of my control and everything is already decided.
A good example would be waiting to start a new job. Imagine you have signed a contract, but it is not due to start for the next two months. You cannot really get out of the contract, that’d be silly, you have signed it for some good reason, right? But you are not yet really bound by it, it is not really your job yet. You sort of hang around. You wait.
Or you decided to move abroad. Great plan, but you have to wait a little longer until you save up enough money; so you press the pause button on your life. There isn’t any point in starting anything over at the old home – but you don’t have a new home yet. Why would you go out seeking new friends and new adventures in a place you are about to abandon? You are stuck in between.
The first step to shaking off this dreadful feeling is realizing what it is that actually bothers us. Being stuck in between has a tendency to hide itself behind other worries and is usually the last thing we blame for our unhappiness. So the next time you feel like something is just not quite right with your life, the next time there is this je ne sais quoi about everything surrounding you, think about whether you haven’t dug yourself a little hole in the land in between.
Step 2: Stop thinking about the future
The general advice goes – do not hang onto the past. But when one deals with being stuck in between, one’s past is the last thing that can destroy him. Oh no. The vision of the world to be, that’s our enemy.
Sometimes we just get so excited about our future plans and endeavours that we forget about living in the present. We neglect the opportunities that are around us every day for the sake of things to come that may or may not ever arrive. We give up on our current life, because we believe we need a completely new one, when the truth usually is – we just need to learn how to evolve, cherish and work with what we have.
Step 3: Realize that it is you who is holding yourself to ransom
As I mentioned above, the paradox of being stuck in between lies in the fact that everything is and is not set in stone at the same time. There is some big decision we took and there is some big consequence, but the consequence itself is delayed, not there yet, it just… doesn’t feel real. But it is, isn’t it? And it cannot be changed.
The easiest route out of the land of in between is through the realization that the very nature of the future means that only a few things cannot be changed at all; of course there are some examples of life’s cruelty but that doesn’t really apply to us inbetweeners. The decision is ours. The agency of that decision is ours. And we have the full right to change our mind – but 99% of the time we just don’t want to.
Being stuck in between makes us forget that we are the ones who wanted to get to the other side in the first place. It erases the reasons we decided on this and not that from our memory. It tricks us into thinking that someone else, something else, maybe fate, is ruling our lives. It is not. It is we ourselves.
Step 4: Keep on moving regardless
When big things are ‘set in stone’, small things can still move, you know. Life does not need to pause just because it is about to change drastically. It can just go on.
Once you realize that you are stuck in between, you can do one of two things: follow the steps above and struggle to gain your agency back from the hands of the cruel Universe or to give up. If you pick the former, small changes and little adventures will help you undoubtedly. Remembering to keep living, breathing, those come quite unnaturally to those stuck in between – so you’ll have to make a conscious effort to remain active.
And the best solution? New things. Come on, just because you’re about to turn your life upside down doesn’t mean you cannot treat yourself to a few new sensations while you’re killing time and waiting! You’re about to turn your life upside down anyway! One or more complications cannot change much; you’re going to enter a transitional state of pure madness anyway. There is not much to lose.
And who knows what reward awaits the in between slayer this time?
Don’t want to miss the next post? Follow me on Bloglovin’ for automated updates. See you on Wednesday!