Do you ever feel like you’re the only one who can’t figure out how to ‘adult’? Maybe you’ve felt that sinking uncomfortable pit in your stomach and wondered why it felt so full of shame, anxiety, embarrassment?
We all seem to think we’re alone in these feelings but turns out we have more in common than we thought. Those are the feelings that come up in what I now refer to as the ‘messy middle’. For those of you new around here, welcome to my favorite preach worthy topic – ‘the messy middle’.
2020 feels like yesterday and a million years ago all at the same time. It was one of the most complex and yet … simple years of our adult lives. It started off like every other year since I joined the workforce – living my best life in my ‘dream job’ while drowning in stress surrounded by a toxic work culture.
As I’m sure you can imagine, March of 2020 didn’t exactly kick off with that warm and fuzzy feeling if you catch my drift. I still remember the afternoon, 2 weeks after we started working from home (temporarily of course!), when we all started to find ourselves in small group meetings with department leadership telling us that we we’re being furloughed. They didn’t know how long this would last and so we would need to file for unemployment.
I don’t think I really even understood what the word ‘furloughed’ stood for until it started to headline the news the week prior. I was coming from a place of privilege and at the time, I had no idea just how privileged I was. I could write a whole blog on just this season of life but let’s fast forward or you would be here all day.
4 months later I’m staring at the same four walls in my apartment, I’ve just completed my masters degree, I still don’t have a job and it finally hits me. I’m not as okay as I think I am. I have my first ever panic attack. Just what I needed. But truthfully this was a pivotal point in my story. This was when I learned what rock bottom felt like and the cost of not talking about the messy middle.
For months now, I had been going about my days as if nothing was wrong or abnormal and yet I was unemployed, drowning in anxiety, and trying to learn to be a cat mom to my kitten with allergies that required special care when I wasn’t allowed in the room with the vet to learn how to care for him so I was watching YouTube videos hoping for the best… there was nothing normal about this.
And so, I started a podcast. I still can’t tell you why that felt like the right thing to do. It was so out of my comfort zone, I had no idea what I was doing but I knew if I wanted to change my life I had to do something different.
Talking to a therapist didn’t feel like the right move, journaling wasn’t doing it for me, blogging wasn’t enough – but podcasting was about community and conversations and so I started a podcast. Go listen to my early episodes… the early episodes are terrible. And by terrible I mean this has been a journey. I was in uncharted territory when I recorded those and those episodes are raw, messy, and vulnerable. I have conversations with other millennials that get it. They understand the messy middle because they too have been there/are there. They offer support and perspective and encouragement and hope.
And more than two years later, I’m still here talking about the messy middle. Why? Why does it matter? Why is it important? Because as season 1 guest Alyssa Benjamin shared, “we are always in some state of transition” and so we must learn the tools that will help us navigate the messy middle and we do that through connection, conversation, and an open mind. That is why we need to talk about the messy middle. Because the messy middle, as raw and vulnerable as it is, allows us to feel seen, heard, and supported on the deepest level and that is a crucial part of the human experience.
Thanks for being here!
Alyson Pallanck is a Life & Leadership Coach and host of the 'But, What if You Did?' Podcast - a life & leadership podcast where we normalize what millennials leaders are up against in the messy middle. Alyson is on a mission to build leadership ability within our millennial communities. She does this through personalized one on one life & leadership coaching and through sharing raw conversations with friends, thought leaders in the personal development space, and holistic wellness advocates who have been where you are and are here to show you what is possible!