For years I felt behind in life, like I’d missed a train everybody else was on.
I felt as though I were walking next to the abandoned tracks watching the train in the far distance with everybody having the time of their lives.
With time I came to realize that not being on the “main train” actually gave me many advantages and unique opportunities.
Here are the top things to remember when you feel left behind in life.
1) You are unique
There is no other you in this world.
That’s an incredible fact!
Be proud of that and feel it in your bones.
The fact that you are unique and have your own path in life can be lonely, but it’s also exciting.
When feeling left behind by life it’s often because we are drowning in expectations and fear of outer judgment.
“This isn’t what I wanted or expected,” or “what will people think of me for where I am in life?”
You are unique. Don’t try to fit your life in a cookie cutter, especially somebody else’s cookie cutter!
2) You matter
The next thing to keep in mind is that you matter.
Sadly, many ideologies have a way of telling us we don’t matter.
In the middle ages people were often told that their soul was all that mattered and that their comfort and wellbeing in this life was irrelevant.
All that mattered was preparing for the world to come.
After the Enlightenment and dominance of the scientific method, people were told that physical well-being and “progress” was the meaning of life.
Can you see how both of these dominant ideologies try to put you in a box where it’s either only the spiritual or only the physical that’s real?
What about both!
You are a unique creation and your body and your soul are both important. You matter.
No matter how left behind you feel in life, I promise that your journey means something and won’t be in vain.
3) You will find yourself
When you feel left behind in life it seems hopeless.
You aren’t where you want to be in your career and everyone you see seems to have figured it out and have more experience than you…
You aren’t where you want to be in your love life and everyone you see seems to at least have more experience and opportunities than you…
You feel lost and nothing seems to resolve it.
If this really would last forever then it would be hopeless.
But it won’t.
You will find yourself, and these times when you feel sure you’ve fallen behind will be where you build the most inner strength, uniqueness and spiritual power.
4) You are one of us
Feeling left behind by life is isolating.
It seems certain that nobody else really knows what it’s like or has been where you are.
But you are one of us.
Remember that how you feel is a way many of us have felt at some point or another.
It’s not the same for everybody. Some of us experience this sensation of being on the margins of life much more than others.
But consider yourself one of us who has felt this way.
Welcome to the club!
5) You have power
In this club of people who have felt seriously left behind by life, you’re likely to feel powerless.
But you actually do have power.
First of all, don’t beat yourself up for feeling left behind.
The fact that you’re reacting and feeling upset, angry or sad is a good sign. It means you’re still alive.
It means you have power.
All that anger and turmoil is energy waiting to be unleashed and channeled into something productive.
There’s nothing “bad” or “wrong” about being upset and feeling left behind.
This is your valid experience at this time.
But in this experience and the alienation you feel, there’s also a lot of power to become the kind of person you want to become and channel your pain into something productive.
6) You have choices
Whatever the reasons that are making you feel behind in life, you need to know that you have choices.
You have a choice to get up early, for starters.
You have a choice to brush your teeth or not.
The list goes on.
You may be in a very physically difficult circumstance of poverty or an emotionally difficult circumstance of heartbreak and loneliness.
But you have choices.
7) You have unique talents
In addition to being unique which I mentioned earlier, you also have unique talents.
Having unique talents is what makes the world go around.
It takes all kinds of kinds.
You may be great at writing or speaking or building. Another person may be excellent at visual arts or gardening or computers.
Talents come in many forms and can help make life better in many ways.
The key is to find a talent that’s not only natural to you but that also lines up with your purpose in life.
And when it comes to your purpose in life, there’s a very big advantage that those of us who feel left behind have: we can tap into that in order to make a difference for other people.
Which brings me to the next point…
8) You can help others
The best way to find meaning in the pain is to help others who are experiencing something similar.
It’s one of the ironies of life that the more we focus on our own problem and try to “fix” it, often the worse it gets.
But realizing that our problem is not quite as unique as we think and that we have the power to tap into it for empathy and real solutions to the suffering of others is a huge breakthrough.
No matter what career or talents you use to help others, bringing your experiences to bear in helping others who feel left behind in life is a wonderful way to begin to heal and become more empowered.
9) You have a future
Lastly in terms of the key things to remember when you feel behind in life is that you do have a future.
It starts with you.
And it will be unique.
I can’t promise it will be a rose garden, nobody can. Not even God or any spiritual revelation can tell you that everything is going to be pleasant or fine.
But I can promise you it will be worth it.
As left behind as you feel now, consider this:
You are on a journey to find yourself and find your tribe. The only competition you’re in is with yourself, and you’re making progress every day.
10) You can’t take it with you
You have a future beyond feeling left behind.
At the same time, one day all of us will run out of future, at least on this mortal timeline.
This is crucial to remember when you feel behind in life.
We’re all going to physically die.
It’s a terrifying realization and liberating for some. But the bottom line is that no matter how ecstatic or “successful” you are here in this life, it will one day come to an end.
That does not mean this life and success and happiness don’t matter: they absolutely do. But it does mean that you should not make an idol of success in this life.
As legendary Australian musician Paul Kelly sings in his song “Can’t Take It With You:”
“You might have a happy family, nice house, fine car
You might be successful in real estate
You could even be a football star
You might have a prime time T.V. show seen in every home and bar
But you can’t take it with you.”
My point is this:
When you feel left behind, remember that ultimately no amount of outer progress will be taken with you when you go.
No one knows what it’s like…
When you feel left behind in life it’s extremely lonely.
You are sure that no one knows what it’s like, not really.
The irony is that’s the same way everyone feels in their life.
This lonely, lost feeling lasts longer for some of us and reappears at unexpected times. But the key is to find a mission and motivation that truly speaks to you.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned formerly feeling left behind by life.
The truth is I still do sometimes.
I wouldn’t be honest if I claimed otherwise.
But the difference from those past times is that I’m not waiting any longer. I know that my actions and decisions are up to me and that waiting for life to happen or occur in the way I want it to is a losing game.
Instead of waiting for life to come notice you and give you a chance, give yourself a chance and embrace the immense value you have!
The time to start moving forward is now, and it always starts with one step.