9 Metaphors That Perfectly Capture This Thing We Call “Life”

Disclosure: this page may contain affiliate links to select partners. We receive a commission should you choose to make a purchase after clicking on them. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Life. You’ve been doing it all along, but sometimes it feels like you’re trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that’s a few colors short—frustratingly impossible.

Enter metaphors, life’s literary jazz hands.

They don’t just sprinkle a little pizzazz on your dusty English essays; they’re also secret codes that can unlock new ways of understanding life’s unpredictable tango.

Buckle up, buttercup, because we’re about to serve some deceptively simple metaphors that’ll have you looking at the humdrum of your daily existence like it’s the final season of your favorite binge-worthy show.

1. Life is a journey.

You’re the star in the blockbuster movie called Your Life.

Plot twist—the film’s a road trip, and you are at the wheel.

Now, buckle up and grab your metaphorical map because here’s how this ride goes:

Ignition: The day you’re born, the engine sputters to life. From that baby’s first cry, it’s zero to hero for you!

The Open Road: As childhood and adolescence slip into the rearview mirror, you’re cruising down the Highway of Endless Possibilities. Decisions? Exits are coming; gotta pick one!

Potholes and Pit Stops: Boulevards of Broken Dreams? Been there. Career crossroads? Checked that. But like a true road warrior, you patch up the tires and refuel on coffee and confidence. Every setback is a story for the grandkids!

Scenic Routes: Those detours you took? Best. Idea. Ever. You snapped selfies with breathtaking experiences and sampled the all-you-can-eat buffet of life.

Your journey isn’t just A to B; it’s understanding that the Destination Unknown can be a riotous, sometimes bumpy but utterly unforgettable trip.

So, keep those wheels turning!

2. Emotions are weather.

Just like the skies above, your emotional world is prone to its own patterns of sunny spells and stormy tantrums.

Let this weather forecaster guide you…

Joy: Like uninterrupted sunshine, makes you want to frolic in meadows, or at least text someone a bunch of sun emojis.

Anger: Raging thunderstorm. No umbrella can handle this outburst.

Sadness: A persistent drizzle that makes you want to curl up with a cup of tea and ponder the meaning of life.

Anxiety: Tornado. Sends your garden furniture—and your nerves—flying.

Consider your emotions just as fleeting and ever-changing as the weather. Each state of mind will pass, sooner or later.

So remember: no matter how dire the forecast may seem, you can’t have rainbows without a little rain, and storms do clear eventually!

Pack an emotional raincoat and weather the storms with a chuckle.

3. Your dreams are seeds.

Your dreams, like seeds, are packed with the potential to grow into the grand oak trees of your future—provided you give them the TLC they deserve.

Here’s a crash course in gardening…

Seeds need water: Without nurturing your dreams with efforts and plans, they can’t grow.

Seeds need sunlight: Positive thinking and exposure to new experiences are like sunlight, vital for growth.

Seeds need time: Patience is key. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor did an oak tree sprout overnight!

If you view your dreams as these little kernels, then every day you’re a farmer (suspend your disbelief, work with me here). You’ve got to attend to these seeds, ensuring they’re not neglected, chomped on by the ominous crows of doubt, or withered under the scorching heat of life’s challenges.

Remember to…

Plant them wisely: Choose which dreams get the prime real estate of your focus.

Water regularly: Keep feeding your aspirations with steady actions, even small ones!

Prune as needed: Sometimes you need to trim off the excess to allow the best parts to flourish.

So next time you find yourself clutching a dream, resist the urge to stuff it in your pocket along with the loose change and lint.

Plant it. Water it. Watch it transform before your very eyes into a towering testament to your potential.

4. People are chapters in your book.

Imagine your life is a book—a real page-turner.

The people you meet? They’re like chapters. Some are short and sweet, others, well, they’re the long, winding types that shift the whole plot.

Introduction chapters: These are the folks you just met. Say, a barista, who knows your coffee, not your life story.

Impactful chapters: Here lie your buddies. They made you snort-laugh so hard, milk came out your nose that one time.

The twist chapters: Ever met someone and thought, “Plot twist!”? Yup, they’re these ones. Maybe a mentor turned nemesis? Drama!

The love chapters: Could be a whirlwind romance that had you seeing stars, or a simple act of kindness from a stranger.

The cliffhanger chapters: These are the people you lost touch with. Will they make a comeback? Stay tuned!

Now, you’re not just passive—your choices write the story.

Remember: not all chapters are created equal. Some you skim, some you read thrice.

The beauty lies in a mix of characters that shape your storyline, each bringing wisdom, laughter, and maybe a few face-palms.

5. Time is a river.

Imagine, if you will, you’re on a floatie. The sun kisses your skin, and you’ve got not a single care in the world—except maybe the odd water splash.

That’s right, your life is that river you’re lounging on.

Here are some things you need to know about it…

It’s flow is unstoppable. Got the Monday blues or TGIF cheers? That river keeps flowing, never pausing for a breather.

And like life’s ticking clock, you can’t press pause. You drift by milestones and memories, just like you would a particularly splashy rapids or a serene bend.

It can change course. Did your river just take a surprising twist? Life throws curveballs, and sometimes your river does too.

Just when you thought you were going downstream—bam!—a detour. You adapt, because what else can you do?

It can be pretty deep. The kiddie pool times are the shallows, but as you grow, so does the depth of the river.

With depth comes the profound moments, the challenges, yes, even the risk of a spill.

But don’t worry, there aren’t any actual river monsters under the surface. Just the deep, profound thoughts of your next life chapter.

Remember to paddle, because sometimes the current will try to get the best of you, and that’s when you’ve got to steer with all your might.

Life jackets on? Good. Always be prepared for the unexpected dip in the water.

6. Your past is a map, not territory.

Think of your past as Google Maps for a moment. It’s there on your phone, full of helpful little pins and routes—you’ve reviewed a taco place here, tagged a photo there—but does it really capture the feel of the streets?

Absolutely not!

Your past is just like that—a tool for reference, not the ground you’re walking on.

Useful, not literal: Your past tells you where you’ve been, not where you are. It’s a series of lessons, not current events.

Flexible routes: Roads change, and so do you. Just because you went one way before doesn’t mean it’s the only way to go now.

Update available: Ever notice how maps need updating? Your memory might need a little refresh too. It turns selective, highlighting the comedies over the tragedies.

Remember, the territory is reality—it’s the here and now. It’s where you’re living, breathing, and probably contemplating why you ever liked low-rise jeans.

It’s gritty, sometimes hard to navigate, and it’s definitely not as neatly organized as that map you cling to in your head.

Let’s put it simply:

The map: Your experiences, painted in broad strokes, with a few emotional hot spots.

The territory: Your daily life, textured and vibrant—where the true adventure unfolds.

So next time you’re lost in a nostalgic scrolling session, remember that your past should be used as a guidebook, not a prophecy.

You’re the one hoofing it through the wild terrain of life, after all. Grab your metaphorical boots and pave a new path!

7. Perspective is a lens.

Imagine this scene: You’re at a swanky gallery, eyeing a peculiar abstract painting. One quick shift to the left, and bam, it’s not a scrambled mess of colors anymore; you see a charmingly lopsided smiley face winking at you.

That’s your perspective, your mental camera lens, turning the mundane into fabulous.

In life’s gallery, your personal lens comes with its own filter, and the brightness, contrast, and saturation are all in your hands.

Have you ever considered the following?

Brightness: How bright do you paint your day? A little positivity can blast the dingy greys to oblivion.

Contrast: The starker the contrast, the more you appreciate the subtleties. Tough times spotlight the good, right?

Saturation: Dial up the color of your experiences. A rich, vibrant take can make even Monday mornings bearable. Imagine that!

Here’s something to chew on:

Your friend’s joke isn’t lame; it’s vintage humor.

The queue at the coffee shop? A chance to people-watch like you’re on a safari.

So, twist that lens, dear reader. Zoom in on the delightful. Put life on portrait mode and watch as the background fuzz buzzes out, leaving you with a high-definition snapshot of joy.

Remember, whether you’re viewing life through a fisheye or a telephoto lens, it’s always a choice.

And don’t forget to clean that lens; smudges of yesterday’s worries can seriously ruin today’s view!

8. Your potential is buried treasure.

Deep within the winding, shadowy corridors of your mind lies a dusty old chest—let’s call it the Chest of Could-Be.

It’s not just any box; it’s brimming with shimmering gems and glittering doubloons, each representing the untapped possibilities within you.

Yes, your potential is a bona fide buried treasure, matey!

Now, imagine you’re the swashbuckling adventurer of your own life. With just a trusty map of self-awareness and a compass of determination, you set sail on the high seas of personal growth.

X marks the spot: It takes a sprinkle of curiosity and a dash of courage to pinpoint where X lies on your life’s map. Hunt for clues. Maybe it’s in a hobby you’ve neglected or a dream you’ve shelved for ‘someday’.

Dusty skills and hidden talents: Don your archaeologist hat and excavate your abilities. Brush off the dirt, and who knows what you’ll find? Maybe an old guitar from high school days or the remnants of French 101.

Unlocking the chest: The right key is crucial, and in this case, it’s persistence. It may be buried under piles of ‘what ifs’ and ‘buts,’ but it’s there, shimmering with promise.

Remember, the treasure isn’t about becoming someone new; it’s about discovering the riches that have been within you all along.

So hoist the sails, polish that spyglass, and start your treasure hunt with a hearty, “Yo-ho-ho!”

Who said personal development can’t be a rousing adventure?

9. Friends are lighthouses.

Ever been lost at sea during one of your philosophical introspection trips?

You know, adrift in the vast ocean of life’s questions, pondering the quintessential: ‘What’s for dinner?’

Well, guess what anchors you back to sanity? Your buddies, the human lighthouses.

They are…

A beacon of guidance: Just like a lighthouse stands firm, casting light to navigate sailors through choppy waters, your friends guide you. They shine their wisdom on your existential quandaries without switching to pretentious guru mode.

A port in the storm: Picture a stormy sea—your friends are that unwavering lighthouse on a cliff. They don’t budge when you’re throwing a fit because your favorite series ended or you got a parking ticket. Again.

A source of safety: In the dead of the night, it’s your friend’s reassuring text that says, “U up? There’s a spider in my room,” that reminds you, people are just as scared as you are. But together, you’re braver. That reply saying, “Burn the house down,” is basically a coded message of solidarity.

Friends won’t let you crash into the rocks or get lost at sea (unless you’re all on a misguided paddle-board adventure).

They’re the vigilant sentinels, shining their light so you can find a safe path back to the shore of sanity—or at least to the nearest pizza joint. Because who gets lost without working up an appetite?

About The Author

Steve Phillips-Waller is the founder and editor of A Conscious Rethink. He has written extensively on the topics of life, relationships, and mental health for more than 8 years.