Finding Strength through AdversityPosted: September 17, 2012
“Life’s not fair.” These are the words of wisdom my mother greeted me with every time I was a child and I had a complaint about some new injustice that had been visited upon me. (To be fair, I preferred this to her more often used “go play in traffic” or “take a long walk off a short pier”, but I digress.) I have since come to understand that in her own Long Island way she was trying to toughen me up and prepare me for a cruel and uncaring world. (I think. I’m still not sure about the traffic thing.)
Since then I have had good days and bad days, and then I have had “Oh dear GOD seriously WTF?!?” days. These latter have reminded me more than once of mom’s admonition when I was a child, and after I got done playing in traffic, I would then remember that she also had other important life lessons to share and try to find strength through the adversity. There are certain key things I have since found that, by keeping them in mind, have helped me to get through even the most trying of days.
Some days are just going to suck. Accept it now. This may not seem comforting, but the truth is it helps. Once you accept that there is nothing you can do about it, that the cards are all stacked against you and fighting against it is simply a waste of time and energy, it becomes a lot easier to just go with the flow. That’s not to say you should take individual events lying down; rather just that you need to accept that today is going to be “one of those days”, and not try to somehow make it a good one.
It’s not personal. Even when it feels like the entire universe has singled you out to be picked on today, chances are that’s not the case (and if it is, I strongly suggest you give Ashton Kutcher a good shot in the mouth when he jumps out to tell you “you’ve been Punk’d!” So has your career, Ashton.) Most of the people around you who are getting on your nerves are just trying to get through their own mediocre-to-awful day, and I promise that they are not trying to make your day worse, so taking it out on them will not help… no matter how good you think it might feel.
Taking it out on someone else will not make you feel better. Since you have the discriminating taste and class to read this, I am assuming you’re not a raging asshole, so I feel safe in making this prediction. In a heated moment you might think you’ll get some satisfaction in making someone else pay for adding to your already steaming pile of a day, but in all likelihood you’re just going to walk away feeling a little worse for having gone off for no good reason. You’re also going to leave them with a bad impression of you, which is likely to make tomorrow (or a future day) worse, if they don’t just decide to serve their revenge piping hot.
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself. I don’t mean to endorse over-indulgence here (I prefer to endorse that all on its own), but when things are already in the toilet, why put yourself through the added misery of denial? Treats are just that, and sometimes you need one. Have some ice cream. Pour a glass of wine. Go see a movie. When the world refuses to cut you a break, cut yourself a slice of pie.
That’s what friends are for. Real friends aren’t the people you go drinking with when you are in a good mood. They are the people you call when you need to complain about your bad mood. Great friends are the ones who take you out drinking so you can complain about your bad mood and then pick up the check.
Every day ends. No matter how bad it gets, no matter how long it feels, the one redeeming virtue of every bad day is that it only last 24 hours. Even if the bad carries over into the next day, there’s always the chance that this new day will only be mediocre rather than a true crapfest. And even if things don’t improve, the new day is still only 24 hours long.
Wait for “the cherry”. You’ll know the cherry when it happens: that last, little thing that isn’t nearly so bad as the rest, more of a finisher, the topping that just says, “And now your shit sundae is complete.” Once you have experienced this transcendent moment, you can at least start to look forward to the inevitable dénouement to the dramarama your day has been thus far.
There’s always tomorrow. Yes, it’s cliché, but clichés exist for a reason. This one exists to remind us that so long as we live, there is a chance of some good balancing out the bad, and even if life isn’t fair, that doesn’t mean it can’t get better.