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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Don’t Be a Stranger | Unstick the stuck

Don’t Be a Stranger is a biweekly advice column that feels like catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee.
Don%E2%80%99t+Be+a+Stranger+%7C+Unstick+the+stuck
Joy Zhang | Staff Illustrator

Hey stranger,

While talking with a dear friend of mine, she disclosed to me that she’s been feeling “stuck.” 

Have you ever felt that? Directionless. Up against a wall. Going, going … nowhere. Wait — don’t answer that, because of course you have.

My mother has recurring dreams about being lost in mazes. They last the whole night. Say what you will about the psychology of dreams, but that must mean something. 

At that moment, offering advice for my friend’s “stuck-ness” seemed futile. I had no idea what to say or how to help her. It’s tough to feel useless in this way — Hey, sorry you feel like you’re sprinting on a gigantic hamster wheel, hope you figure it out soon.

It also seemed harsh to tell her to just keep going. You can’t go anywhere when you’re standing still, but it’s easier said than done. When we feel like this, it’s like we’re glued to the floor. Like a GPS system eternally recalculating, never quite finding the location. Solutions seem elusive and grueling — worthless, even. Why do we feel this way? What’s with the self-sabotage? We all do it, so there must be answers.

The poet Mary Oliver, who of course harbored infinitely more wisdom than I do — and to whom I have a tattoo dedicated — wrote in her poem, “Moments,” “Your heart is beating, isn’t it? You’re not in chains, are you?”

Sit with this for a moment. Then sit with your stuck-ness and get to know it a little more. 

Dig to the root. Are you stuck physically, mentally, emotionally? In college, it’s natural to feel some semblance of a lack of purpose. It may feel like everyone but you knows what they’re doing. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret — most of them are faking it.

As human beings, we want to be in control. Or we want to think we’re in control. Really, we aren’t. Not even a little bit. So, we hang on for dear life to the ounce of control we do have and pretend it’s a lot more than it actually is. We do this to cope and to feel better about ourselves because most of us have no idea what we’re doing.

But is that such a bad thing? There’s never been a rulebook on life, so why are we trying to construct one for ourselves?

When you consider the best decisions that you’ve made, the ones that have led you to the most wonderful and fulfilling parts of your life, weren’t at least some of them unplanned? I decided I wanted to transfer out of my old university one week before the move-in day for my second year. I can say with confidence that I had felt pretty darn stuck before I made that choice, and it turned out to be the best one I could’ve possibly made. All this to say, you’ve got to rip off the Band-Aid. It might hurt, it might throw you off-kilter, but it could be worth everything.

At the risk of sounding cliché, this aimlessness is a necessity and it teaches us more than we realize. It’s all part of the drill. At the risk of sounding insane — a lack of purpose has a purpose. It forces you to think, it gets the gears turning about what you really want out of this world. Now, how’re you gonna chase after it?

Remember, your heart is beating, you’re not in chains, and you always have time to unstick the stuck. If you’re feeling directionless, try taking the scenic route.

Need advice? Don’t be a stranger and submit your troubling questions or concerns to me here! https://forms.gle/Woquqq8ZzFhMTNnt8