Life is messy. I think one of our biggest problems in life is that we continuously try to make it perfect. If only we had a better job, or more money, or a skinnier waist, or better friends, or more time, or more stuff. And the thing is, it was never meant to be perfect or easy. And just when you think you've got it down, something comes along to throw a wrench in your plans and you're left with an "is this all there is" feeling? Or worse, "can I possibly take any more?"
Well, I'm here to tell you that, indeed, you can. For one, our reactions to the things around us are entirely under our control. Oh sure, we "go off" now and then, say things we don't mean, get all riled up and spew venom at the people we should love the most. Or we make really stupid choices with difficult consequences. Sometimes we even find ourselves in a really dark place, wondering if we'll ever be able to struggle out of it, or, worse, if we even want to.
It's in those times, when we're really at our weakest points, that we need to be strong enough. Strong enough to open up and ask for help. Or strong enough to ask for forgiveness. Or admit our weaknesses. Or do something that challenges us or makes us uncomfortable. But in doing this, we become so much stronger than we ever really knew we could be.
My yoga teacher often said "you're stronger than you think you are" and, while that helped me immensely in my yoga practice (namely, "yes, I can do this and no, I won't die if I hold this pose one second longer"), it also became a great motto for life. We ARE stronger than we think we are.
I hear many of my kids' friends lamenting their latest "worst day ever." That phrase always hits me hard. Your WORST day ever? I mean, life is not a competition, but putting things in perspective never hurt anyone. At the same time, your "worst" day is relative to where you are in life. If you are a teenager, your worst day might be measured in how horrible something makes you feel - whether it be relationship or friend problems, parents fighting, finding out you're moving, failing a class. When you're in college, it might be roommate issues, worry about grades, navigating the slippery slope of independence. As an adult, your "worst day ever" might be huge and horrible and irreconcilable - divorce, death, crime, poverty.
But life goes on. Even in the face of the most horrible circumstances, we somehow move on and keep living. In the past year, in my own life or that of a friend, I've seen divorce, death of a child, cancer and other serious illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, legal troubles, financial troubles, teen pregnancy, moving away, starting over. But I've also seen birth, graduations, proms, new jobs, new love, success, unexpected achievement, and joy in the simple things. Balance.
We're all a little f**ked up in our own ways. The sooner we accept that and move on with being the best we can be, the better for everyone. And guess what? No one expects you to be perfect - in your quest to constantly be better, someone thinks you are just fine the way you are. We all need to give ourselves a break. Adopt a philosophy of doing the best you can and be ok with it.
Here are some things I try to do (and I've failed at these numerous times!).....the point is to always be aware of what is important to you:
- Be a good friend. Be there to listen and support. Don't be a doormat. Friendship goes both ways.
- Be supportive when you can. Even if you don't always agree with the decisions being made.
- Be nice. Don't waste your time and energy being snarky or mean. Just be nice. One nice thing said to someone can erase a dozen negative things they may have heard that day.
- Do things for yourself. Don't wait for someone to come along and make you happy. If you want to do something fun, just do it. Even if you can't find someone to go with you.
- Get up and get dressed every morning. Even if you have no place to go or nothing urgent to do. Just getting "ready" for the day puts you in a more productive mood. You'll be surprised what you can accomplish!
- Try to exercise every day. Even if it's just for a few minutes. And sometimes, when you're really tired, instead of laying on the couch, try taking a short walk instead. It's amazing how much this can energize you!
- But be lazy sometimes. It's ok to just wear your pajamas all day and watch movies on the couch. Just not every day. If you do it every day, the relaxing part wears off and you just start to feel down all the time.
- Do stuff. Instead of over-analyzing things, just DO IT. We spend so much time worrying about things that we often talk ourselves out of doing it in the first place.
- Don't spend so much time worrying about what you're going to be when you grow up. Because the thing is, you WILL grow up, even if you never decide. Life takes twists and turns. Be flexible.
- Find things that you love to do, that bring you joy, and spend as much time as possible doing them.
- Find someone you love, better yet, find many someones, and spend as much time with them as possible. If someone makes you feel happy, comfortable in your own skin, and it's just "easy" to be with them, they're the "right" person. And if your "right" person turns into the "wrong" one, do not despair that you can never love another. You can.
- Always be a learner. If you're worried about something, educate yourself! Curious? Explore!
- Never be afraid to admit you're not a stone pillar. We all need someone to lean on, we all need help sometimes. Never, EVER, let your worry about "what others might think" hold you back from doing what's right for you or those you love.
- Always celebrate. There are so many things in life to be happy about, that there's always a reason for celebration. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, special events and accomplishments. Have a party!
We are all flawed. That's what makes us so perfect!