Life Lessons Learned During Adversity

In 2019, I was dragged in every aspect of my life. When I say dragged, I mean I was dragged mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially. I was drained to the point where I barely made it through the day without feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and sometimes defeated.

With the new year upon us, 365 days of unlimited opportunities are presented. A chance to accomplish any goals not reached last year or the day before today. An opportunity to dream big and work to turn the dream into reality. It’s also an opportunity to work on yourself for yourself and to make changes in your life to be a better you.

Over the last year, I had multiple opportunities to reflect on my life. Where I was, where I wanted to be, and everything in between. Multiple moments such as when I was in the hospital room with my dad, on long car rides home, car rides to doctor’s appointments, and up late at night staring at the ceiling because I was full of so much anxiety. It was during these moments, I reflected on the situations taking place at that point in time of my life. I reflected on the multiple lessons unveiled during these very emotionally, physically, and mentally draining moments.

One lesson definitely learned, during last year’s ordeals, was patience. “They” say patience is key, but it all goes out the window when you have the weight of your world on your shoulders and you need results now. I guess you can say that’s a result of the world we are currently living in. We want results right now; at the very moment that we have the thought. For me, it was wanting my father to recover quickly, as well as a few other things which were taking place at the time. I wanted a speedy recovery for my dad because I was afraid of what may happen if he didn’t recover quickly. The financial burden it would place on him and my mom, and the emotional/mental strain on the entire family. I was so nervous what would happen if he didn’t get the breathing tube out. I was afraid what would happen if the hospital staff realized his mind wasn’t as sharp as it use to be due to the hallucinations of being trapped in the same four walls day in and day out. Afraid that my dad wouldn’t be around to bring in the “New Year”.

Although I was constantly filled with worry and anxiety, I had to stop looking for the finish line before we left the starting line. I had to view the smaller steps he was taking towards recover instead of looking at the setbacks. Here, as well as a few other situations, is where I was taught patience is key. I had to teach myself how to be in the current moment instead of anticipating the finish result especially since the starting line could still be seen so very clearly behind us.

If I began to anticipate the finish line, I’d bring myself back to the present moment. Constantly reminding myself and him that he was making progress at his pace and we shouldn’t be concerned about how well the guy next door was progressing. And we shouldn’t worry about the guy we watched being rolled up to the floor on a hospital bed, walking out with his family three days later. We had to remain patient, concentrate on our own race, and accept (despite what society and the doctors said) everything doesn’t happen instantaneously.

Do I still become impatient? Yes, just the other day I got upset because my coworker took too long to come out of the building so we could go home. Do I try to correct the problem before it get’s out of control? Yes.

In many instances of my impatience increasing, I don’t evaluate the different variables of the situation, but I want to see results almost immediate. When I am impatience, frustration develops and anger isn’t too far behind it. Therefore, I am learning to evaluate the situation before becoming frustrated due to impatience because the outcome wasn’t immediate. I also understand that some things are out of my control. Counting backwards from five or ten sometimes has helped me, or trying to be more empathetic of other’s situations is how I’ve been handling this character flaw.

“Patience is Key”

I also learned that “I can’t be everything for everybody.” Over the summer, I “tried” to be readily available for everyone at the ring of a phone because of the multiple situations occurring at the exact same time. There was one particular incident where I overstretched myself by trying to be there for everyone (emphasis on everyone). But I FAILED!! And I mean failed big time. I was so upset about the decisions that I cried a lot about it. And I am talking big crocodile tears and crying at the drop of a dime.

In between sobs, a good friend grabbed my face and said, “Ash, you can’t be everything for everyone.” Though this was a hard pill to swallow, it was the truth. I try to be everything for everyone; often times, I am pushing my wants/needs, whether is physical, emotional, mental, and even financially, to side for everyone else. It was in my nature to want to take care of everyone.

And though both situations were tragic, I couldn’t be everything for everyone. Being forced to face this reality, I had to learn how to use my resources when it was necessary and start holding others accountable. Especially since, the tasks weren’t my sole responsibilities to take on alone. I had to learn how to say no and tag in someone else to take care of things.

Was it hard to do? Yes because I felt the people involved in the situation depended on me and they needed me to be everything for them at time. Am I doing better? Yes, I’ve relinquished control over certain situations and have tapped reliable resources to fill in where I can’t.

“…You can’t be everything for everyone.”

This leads me to the next lesson, show up for yourself like you show up for others. If you know me personally, you know I have always put the needs of others before my own. It has always been a not so good character trait of mine. I’ve postponed my priorities to accommodate others and their priorities which has sometimes put me in a bind while the other person’s problems are resolved. Then I am sitting there with an overwhelming list of things I need to accomplish in a short amount of time.

Right around the holidays, I received a few “signs” that I wasn’t showing up for myself like I should. I put all my eggs in one basket and let that basket the ground hard basically shattering or breaking every egg in my basket. A common trait of most women, right? We are often last on our own list of priorities. Looking at the current state of my life, I said to myself, “honey, this is your low. It may not look like it to an outsider but you have never let things get this bad for yourself.” Therefore, this is your new low. Guess you can say reality smacked me in the face whether I was prepared for it or not. This was “my low.”

Now old habits die hard, but I am really working to killing this habit. I mean kill it to the point it cannot be resuscitated even if the higher power itself tried. You know that saying, “when you know better, you”d do better,” by late-great Maya Angelou. That’s the only way I can see me releasing this unfortunate habit; I have to do better. Not for anyone else except me, myself, and I.

“Show up for yourself like you show up for others.”

I don’t want to bore you too much with my personal life lessons, however, there were quite a few. Here are a few of those lessons learned that I won’t elaborate on, but I am more than certain everyone has learned at some point in their life.

  • Never discount your situation(s) or feeling(s) even if you think it’s not as bad as someone else’s situation because it is your situation. And no one can tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel about it.
  • Focusing on yourself can help you determine what you should really be focusing your energy on.
  • Make yourself a priority. (Again showing up for yourself.)
  • Other people’s opinion are as valuable as a penny with a hole in it.
  • Be bold! Be Creative! Be yourself!
  • Be consistent in everything you do.
  • Dream big and don’t stop dreaming until the dream is reality. Then, repeat.
  • Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so do whatever it is you want to do.
  • Make a plan and work it.
  • Live your life for you and on your terms.

Some of these lessons might’ve been learned early on in life, but they are lessons you live by everyday. However, when you become a parent, a spouse, or as you get older, it can become harder to remember these life lessons especially with the different situations experienced during this continuous roller coaster ride called life. With every situation I encountered in 2019, I was reminded of these simple life lessons.

In 2020, I plan to take the lessons learned from various moments and apply them accordingly by viewing each day as an opportunity to become a better me. To keep pressing forward even if I didn’t reach my goal the previous day.

Did you learn any life lessons last year? If so, share it in the comments section so we can all learn more life lessons together. Sometimes, you are going through a similar situation as another person. And as crazy as it sounds, the way you dealt with the situation and the lesson you learned could help someone else through.

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