People say that challenges in life are something that will come, but do they ever tell you that life could be better after that challenge. We live in such a quick fix world that many times we get bogged down in the challenge because there is no quick fix. What if in that space of not being able to be fixed is an opportunity for us to have a great comeback. Is a comeback only to be the realization that we can only be in control of ourselves and that we either get better or never learn what lesson maybe for us.
Have you ever opened a box delivered by amazon only to find something you didn’t order. I feel like sometimes that is what happens in our lives. We are just living life, maybe not really enjoying it to the fullest, but living it in a way that seems meaningful to us and then the box arrives. It could be a death of a loved one, an accident that completely changes us, divorce, having to make a job change, etc. I think I’m safe in saying it’s as though the rug of life has been pulled out from under us. When you are on your back, looking up at the life you had been living, what are your thoughts, feeling, ideas. Are they full of questions. Why is this happening to me? Why didn’t I do something different? Were do I go from here? Who will help me? How can this be? So, so many questions and really no answers that can change the situation. Victor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” That my friend, is where the journey begins. Or should I say that is where it began for me!
It began just a few short years ago that my whole life completely blew up. Due to several circumstances, I learned that all the things that made-up my “Life” we're either a lie or an illusion. Being an extroverted extrovert, I now found myself alone with virtually no one for support. Not sure if I was going to survive all the changes that were occurring so rapidly, I began to search for a reason why all of this was happening. Every reason that I came up with turned out not to be the reason after all. It took about a year of trying to figure things out and to stop looking to the outside of me for answers. I began to look inward to find out who I was and what I wanted. I can't say I had ever done that before this. That is not something that I am proud of at my age. (No, I am not going to tell you how old I am, but I will say that I have been around the sun a good number of times.) What came from that awareness, and continues today, has brought change into my life, making it better and so much richer.
What if challenges are one of the many ways that help to slow life down enough to get a hold of it. So much time is spent on tasks and getting things accomplished, which is all find and well, but is it at the expense of losing who we are and what our original purpose is? I know that I had done just that. To slow down long enough to answer the question, who am I? was another challenge in and of itself. I could tell you the rolls I played in my life, wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc., but those are all descriptive words, not who I was, but what I was. I could also list all the tasks that those rolls did, but again that was not who I was. It took months of soul searching and, quite frankly, being so honest with myself it made me squirm, before I had a clear picture of who I was. The most difficult part of this process was to quite down my brain to hear me and not all the voices that had told me who and what I “should” be. Once I got past trying to equate worth with social norm, I could get more honest with myself being open to all that was coming up. Being an older woman today I was still holding on to the idea that my role was to be of “service” to those around me. I had given so much of myself away to everyone around me the idea that I could have something I wanted wasn’t even on my radar. I had so many false ideas of what, not who I was supposed to be, taking the layers of that was painful yet freeing.
Now, after exploring how I am the same and at the same time so different, stepping out into the world doesn’t seem as hard. I have a new confidence and find that I enjoyed me more than I ever thought possible. I enjoy spending time with me, not to be lonely, because I'm still an extrovert, but to just spend time with me and enjoy my own company. What could have been something awful has instead allowed me to see a challenge through a different lens. I can see a challenge as an opportunity for growth and dare I even say excitement, knowing that something good could come out of it. I've heard it said that experience is the best teacher. Maybe, if we were to slow down after an experience it will help us learn our lessons and not have to lose who we are by being so busy doing what we are.