When Life Gives You Lemons
Sometimes it seems like life throws you so many curveballs that you simply don't know what to do with all of them. Here's what you can do to solve the problems and alleviate the pressure.
It's inevitable. Life is full of curveballs and twists, turns, and bumpy roads. All of us will experience an all-too-common "the-world-is-against-me" vibe at one point in our lives.
But we don't have to let that dictate where we go from there. We don't have to let the odds against us determine our course of direction in life.
Trust me. I know.
Recently, a little too recently, I was met with one of the most crucial times—and roadblocks—of my life. Up until that moment, I had felt pretty good about where I was going. I had my head on straight, was in the process of getting a job, was finally enrolled in the college program of my dreams, and was set to start my first classes in less than a month's time.
It felt like I was unstoppable. But life wanted to remind me that I wasn't. Life needed to remind me that I was not indestructible. It needed to remind me of all the hell I had been through to get there. And it needed to give me a little bit of a nudge in the right direction.
But it didn't feel that way at the time. It was frustrating. Made me angry and scared. It almost made me gave up. I guess I'm here to tell you why you shouldn't.
So, I finally felt like I was getting somewhere and then, suddenly, I was at an abruptly cold standstill. In one single day, all of the hope left my body and my resolve was pretty damn near spent. I had worked hard to get on that path and I couldn't cope with the feeling that, in the snap of a finger, it could be taken away from me.
In one day I was notified that if I couldn't get my official transcripts sent to the school within 40 days I would be removed from the program, I was notified that I had to send in sensitive information within a crushing timeframe of the next week, I was at a standstill with my new job because I had recently moved and lost a crucial bit of information that is needed by nearly all employers for employment (I'm sure I don't need to name this bit of information because I'm sure you can guess, but I hadn't even realized it was lost until that moment), and I had just been notified that my Financial Aid award wasn't going to cover the entirety of my schooling.
I think it would be fair to say that I felt like the world was against my success and that there was no good end in sight. I fell into the thinking traps of, "I should just give up," "I should've known better," "I'm never going to make it," and the age-old "Why even try when I'm set up for failure?"
I spent an entire day with absolutely no motivation—meandering around like a lethargic robot just doing the day's duties. But then, like a spark of light, I had a realization that changed everything.
Maybe, just maybe, there was a reason that life was pushing me so hard. Maybe there was a lesson to be learned in all this that had been overlooked in the depths of my despair.
And there was.
I hadn't been thinking of what had led me to where I was and where I was going. I had forgotten that I had begun college twice; only to drop out my first time, and allowed my depression to kick me out yet a second. I had forgotten that I wasn't required to explain everything to everyone—which I now saw as a current problem between myself and my soon-to-be manager and my tendency to over-explain myself. And, most of all, I finally saw the problem in my own logic.
Being upset, angry, and depressed over the situation wasn't going to fix it. My actions were. And my actions were to be a reflection of which path I would choose. It was a humbling experience. In that moment, I learned to look within myself, deeper than I had ever thought possible.
I realized that I had to prove that I was worthy: not just to my school and the office of financial aid and my soon-to-be boss, but to myself. Life hadn't made it easy for me to bloom, but I had bloomed anyways somehow. Taking responsibility for myself and my actions had not made me look at myself negatively, but had made me see the positive qualities about myself (I know, ass-backwards, right?).
I saw myself as someone who had already come out of so much and still held hope. Someone who had still found a way to see the good side of things most of the time, even when it seemed like there wasn't a good side to be found. Someone who was still gentle, even after being treated rough for so long. Someone who found a way to find the confidence to pursue my dreams, even when I was deathly afraid of the outcome. It made me push myself so that life didn't have to do it for me.
Instead of looking at each block like a hurdle, I looked at it like a literal brick wall. Each brick representing something that needed to be dealt with. And, one by one, I knocked those bricks out and took a look on the other side.
I'm sure, by now, you're wanting to know how I overcame these hurdles, and how you can, too. I've listed my personal thinking and problem-solving process below.
I hope that this can help you gain a new perspective on problems so that you, too, can climb your way up the ladder of life!
I mentioned that I pictured each problem as a single brick within a brick wall. You can visualize it any way that is easy for you, but I found this to be the easiest for me. To give you a clearer picture, I've listed some of the singular problems below (in order from time-sensitive to restricted):
- Information sent into school by end of the week
- Renew ID card
- Bring ID and other identification to work for copies
- School orientation
- Work orientation
- Start work
- Start class
- Pay official transcripts fee
- Pay fin-aid monthly
It goes a lot longer than that, and includes other things that are in my personal life, but I hope you can gain a better picture.
By separating each problem into its own category, I was able to solve each problem on its own, carefully and thoroughly. Nothing could slip through the cracks.
Set it in Motion
It's not enough to have visualized it. That in itself doesn't solve the problem. Make sure you remember to act on it. I set up reminders on both my laptop and cell phone to make sure I didn't forget but you can also use sticky notes, a notebook, or any other method of reminding that works for you.
Make sure you act on it on a time-restricted basis, even if the problem itself doesn't necessarily have a time frame. This will keep you on your toes and make sure you get it all done in a timely manner.
Change your Attitude
Maybe this last seems a little off-topic, but it isn't. If you choose to look at these roadblocks in a negative light, that it what you will get: negativity. If you choose to see them as stepping stones that force you to prove yourself, you will then view them more positively.
Choose to see your faults and accomplishments. Choose to be humble and understand that a path you took led you to where you are. Accept your shortcomings along the way, learn from them, and use that to your advantage.
Watch Yourself Bloom
Remind yourself often where you came from and what it took for you to get where you are. Enjoy your accomplishments along the way and be proud of yourself. Daydream often of where this path will lead you. Greet any challenge along the way as an old friend—just another opportunity to prove yourself and how awesome you are.
And if you fall, get back up, brush yourself off and try again more fervently than before. Because you are your own worst enemy. Your thoughts dictate your life's path.
Make the most of it.