Hazy Days

Living in a Connecticut shoreline community, I periodically have the opportunity to get out on the water. I’m always fascinated by how different the view is from one day to the next. On clear days, I can see more than 40 miles to New York City where the Freedom Tower and Empire State Building decorate the landscape. Other days, the air is so thick and hazy that I can’t even see the few miles across the water to Long Island. Knowing something is on the horizon – but not being able to see it – can be a bit unsettling.

Hazy days can be metaphorical as well. For a variety of reasons, it is common to go through periods when we don’t have a clear view of what lies ahead. Often, these hazy times are accompanied by feelings of insecurity or anxiety, causing us to ask questions such as:

  • Am I in the right job? Should I make a move?
  • Am I any good at what I do? How can I really tell?
  • I know things are going to be changing. Am I ready? Should I be pursuing some new course of preparatory action (take a class, get new training, read/study, etc.)?
  • Is my hard work making any difference?
  • Will my past mistakes keep me from succeeding in the future?
  • How can this situation (illness, infertility, broken relationship, loss, loneliness, addiction, legal dispute, disappointment, etc.) possibly work out?
  • How do I ensure that I make a good decision about _________? (schooling, field of study, career change, housing, etc.)
  • Does my life have purpose? How do I find it?

It is tempting to believe that we should have answers to all of these questions, and looking around, we may believe that everyone else does. In reality, vacillating between times of certainty and ambiguity is normal. Nevertheless, if you find yourself stuck in hazy days, there are a few things you can do to both ease the discomfort of the unknown and position yourself well for whatever is coming next.

  1. List everything for which you are thankful. This helps you to focus you on the good aspects of your life right now, in spite of the tenuous time you are experiencing.
  2. Be gentle with yourself. Even if you feel past decisions have landed you in an undesirable place, beating yourself up will not help. Learn the lessons of the mistake, and then resolve to select a better choice in the future.
  3. Remind yourself that there is no single “right” path forward. We often convince ourselves that we need to make the perfect choice or everything will go wrong. This simply isn’t true. While choices do take us down different roads, each one will have counterbalancing positives and negatives.
  4. Assemble a priorities list. Deciding if and when to pursue an option becomes easier when we have parameters by which to evaluate it, so it is important to be able to articulate what matters most.
  5. Be alert to emerging options. Sometimes an opportunity will come as a result of taking action, and other times opportunities pop up and surprise us. During hazy days, it is helpful to be on the lookout for anything that might be coming into view, even from an unexpected direction.
  6. Seek wise council and support. Whether it is a friend, a family member, or a mentor, a person you can trust to listen, reflect back what they hear you saying, and offer perspective is a true asset.

*     *     *     *     *

Not all hazy days are bad. After a period of intense activity, having time to reflect might be a welcome break. However, if you are longing for clear and crisp direction, remember that sometimes all you have to do is wait for a front to blow through, and suddenly you’ll be able to see for miles.

Have you gone through hazy days? What did you find helpful?

22 thoughts on “Hazy Days”

    1. Shoutout to my friend across the water:) I’m sure you can relate the view and how it changes. I just want to encourage people to stay open, focus on the positive, and ride it out. We all have these times!

  1. This is great, Seana! I have gone through days or months like this over the years. I find that looking at what I am grateful for really does help. Also, not judging myself for where I am or where I “should” be. It also helps for me to read or watch movies from other people in a similar situation to remind myself that everyone goes through these hazy days sometime in their life.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Tips on Labeling Kids School StuffMy Profile

    1. I totally agree… EVERYONE has these times. We so often compare our insecurities and struggles with the public personas of those around us, and yet we never know what they are truly thinking or experiencing. An improvement or moment of clarity can pop up at any time, so simply caring for ourselves while we wait is often the best we can do.

    1. Great way to pull out of a funk, Janet. Once we focus on this, it can snowball. It may not change the current situation, but it reminds us that there are good things in life!

    1. I’m becoming more and more aware of this. Working with people are who spend a lot of energy on self-criticism has helped me to realize how draining this really is… not to mention unproductive. Lots still to learn!

  2. What a beautiful post, Seana! I love the “hazy days” metaphor. All of your working through the haze suggestions are great. I especially like the “emerging options” one. I call that “follow the crumbs.” We never know what might spark the next thing. Sometimes we have to follow those things that peek our interest and experiment to see if it ignites something deeper.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…3 Useful Ideas to Help Increase Your HappinessMy Profile

    1. I love that phrase, “follow the crumbs”… I think almost anyone can instantly understand that concept. Life is so rarely a linear path to a planned destination. It isn’t fun to be stuck in haze, but it is normal, and even telling ourselves that can help a little bit. I love hearing people’s stories because they remind me of how surprising life can be, and how wonderful things can emerge from places we never anticipated!

  3. This symbolism is so timely because I was just commenting on a blog about missing Mt. Rushmore, because of fog, as well as Denali last week.
    Hazy days will happen, maybe as much as clear days. I like thinking about working through the haze. And I like working through the haze too!
    Tamara recently posted…Back to School Toolkit With Clorox®My Profile

    1. I love seeing the differences in responses. Some people are more comfortable in the haze, and even see the beauty. Others just get itchy and uncomfortable. I take a little solace in knowing that things are happening, even when I can’t see them. My view may be limited, but exciting things are still taking place. I just need to wait and see them emerge!

  4. On “hazy” days I turn to self care to be sure I just keep on keeping on. It’s things like eating nutritiously instead of junk, getting to bed on time instead of late, and just staying the course. It’s easy to get off track on these days but it’s important to take care of yourself.

    1. The irony is that on days like these, we are most tempted by the junk and binge tv and gaming, even knowing that they don’t refresh and restore. I spoke with someone a few days ago who was having a day like this, and she was burrowing in her apartment. She knew she shouldn’t, but couldn’t summon the energy to do anything else. She decided to call someone whom she knew would come and make her leave, which is exactly what happened. She felt much better after getting out, talking, eating, etc. Just raising the white flag might be enough to get us where we need to be!

  5. Hi Seana,
    I’m a bit of a geek and have not keyed into my social side much. So seeking wise counsel and support is something I am working on, whether they pull me out into the sun, or mirror what I think I’m thinking – did I really say that? what am I trying to say? what did they do about a similar situation? where did they find help? etc., etc. Listen. Really listen.
    Thanks for the advice. Thanks for listening. Thanks.

    1. Listening to others, and finding someone who will supportively listen to us… both are so very important! Sometimes we just need to get out of ourselves a bit, and even go for a walk or laugh over a meal. Hazy days can draw us into ourselves, which often isn’t helpful. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. Very wise advice. I’ve had a rough year with two unexpected surgeries and the loss of my mother. I’m a doer and planner by nature. I’ve had to learn to be gentle with myself (your number 2) and realize that sometimes you just can’t plan or do.

    1. First, hugs on the loss of your Mother. Loss can definitely knock us knot a haze. I’m a doer as well (as are many in our profession), but sometimes waiting for the fog to clear can be the most productive thing we can do!

    1. I’ve never heard that phrase, but I love it! It can be dark in that hallway, and we can stumble on things that we can’t see. We all go through it, however, and knowing this is a bit of a comfort. I think we often look back on these times and see their value once we’ve come out the other end.

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