I am optimistically realistic that I will have many, many more struggles in my life but I am just as optimistically realistic I will have happiness and peace, as well. And that my friends is the point.
I never used to wonder if life would always be a struggle. Call it youthful optimism or a sweet innocence I never realized I had. The adult me asks this question all the time.
Does it ever just get easier?
Growing up amongst daily turmoil and the never ending roller coaster of my mother’s mental illness, each day had the potential to turn into a struggle of epic proportions. I never trusted the quiet times. A lull meant something big was brewing, and I needed to prepare. The something big almost always came to fruition somehow and the fallout would often have me licking wounds no one could see. Throughout all of it, I always convinced myself life would get better once I was older and more in control. Looking back now this makes me shake my head. I’ve always been an optimist. Even when things were at their worst. However, I am also a realist.
An Optimistic Realist.
Talk about inner conflict. Often both sides war with each other inside my mind. I have to see reality for what it is. No sugarcoating. Yet, part of me believes if I can just come up with a creative solution to the problem de jour – it will get better and I can eventually move on with my life.
Except sometimes, regardless of how deep I ponder or how creative I get – I can’t figure life out. I can’t see my way through to the other side of a problem and instead seem to go in circles of frustration. I forget that I am human. I have a tendency to shut off my emotions so that I can face and handle a crisis and then once the crisis is over I deal with what I am feeling inside, make peace with it and let it go. For some, this is incredibly hard, for me it was the key to my survival growing up. Take the lesson, let the rest go. Except lately, I can’t seem to get enough perspective and solutions are eluding me, and frankly, I am damn tired of lessons.
I've had enough of struggles. I am tired of it always being one thing after another. I feel like I deserve some peace. I deserve some long stretches of happiness and contentment. I’ve done my time. Things should be smooth sailing now. I’ve earned it. Except, life doesn’t work like that. There’s no scorecard. No limit on the amount of crisis life can throw at you. That is the realist talking. The optimist, however, is whispering inside my head at the same time, reminding me gently that storms don’t last forever and eventually the clouds part to let the light back in.
There are times when I want to strangle my inner optimist.
I know storm clouds don’t last forever. I know this. I am just over storms. So over them. I’ve lived, I’ve learned, and I’ve conquered more times than I care to remember. I am strong, capable and still in love with life regardless of everything I have been through. I just want smooth sailing, blue skies, and no more storms. I feel like I am due. Overdue in fact.
Except the reality of it is – doesn’t work like that.
The older I get, the more life experiences I go through, the more I appreciate this. Yes, many of us have had our fair share and then some of struggles and heartache, we’ve all had enough hurt to last ten lifetimes, yet there are still long stretches of time when it just seems like one thing after another beating us down. It’s hard to maintain any hope or optimism when each day brings new stresses and problems you never saw coming.
How do you keep finding the energy to get out of bed? How do you motivate yourself each and every day? What keeps you from giving up, just throwing in the towel and saying I just can’t do this anymore?
Tenacity. Sheer stubbornness. Yes. But it’s more than that. So much more.
I don’t ever give up because I want to feel the sunshine on my face. I want to savor the robust flavor of my coffee. I want to hear the birds chirping. I want to laugh at the funny things my dog does. I want to see my friends succeed. I want to succeed. I want to experience new things and live my life to the absolute fullest because I can, and I deserve to. I want to see what I am capable of. How many lives I can touch and how I can turn every single crappy thing I have had happen into something positive for someone else.
I get out of bed every damn day because I never know if this is the day everything will turn around, and I would hate to think I quit too soon. Maybe today I will come up with the creative solution that has been eluding me. Maybe today I will meet someone new or see something that just touches my heart and restores my faith in humanity. Maybe today is the day everything just comes together.
The Realist says may not happen, may, in fact, get even worse. The Realist challenges me to dig deeper every time life throws me a curveball. It stands there silently on my shoulder and whispers in my ear to see everything for what it actually is, not what I wish it to be. The Realist calls me out and tells me when I am losing myself in the conflict. It grounds me when I am traveling the road to losing my mind and coming close to spinning out emotionally from sheer exhaustion or frustration. The Realist knows life could get much harder before it smooths out again and wants to prepare me for that. It’s okay to hope for a brighter tomorrow, but you have to handle everything to get there.
I need them both to survive. This is what I am beginning to understand. The Realist keeps me grounded, and the Optimist gives me hope.
Tenacity and hope.
Holding on and doing everything you have to, for every struggle you find yourself entrenched in is the key to survival. However, if you’re like me, you want to live not just survive. That’s where finding the little things in life that make it brighter regardless of how awful everything else is, is imperative. Sunshine. Coffee. Furbabies. Friends. Gardening. Walking. Coloring and building pillow forts in your living room. Find something every single day, even the blackest of them - that makes you smile. Find something, anything, to reinforce your crumbling hope.
Is it always a struggle? Can feel like that, yes. One thing after another, after another. In your exhaustion and despair, the thought of just throwing in the towel is tempting at times. Overwhelmingly tempting. Why bother if it never gets better, we say to ourselves. What’s the point?
What’s the point?
Deal with the struggles, the problems, the stresses, and then, just be done with them. Learn to let go of it once it’s done and over. Stop holding on to the anger, sadness or despondency. Stop giving it space inside your heart. You have the power. You do. Don’t say; “Easier said than done.” I know it isn’t easy. But the more crap you hold onto, the harder it gets to move forward in life. For the record, holding onto to struggles and stress does not, in fact, prevent more from coming into your life.
There is no quota on the amount of crap one will have to deal with. There isn’t. Wish there was. However, on the flipside of that… there is no limit on the amount of awesomeness, either. No limit to happiness. No limit to love. No limits on how many fabulous memories and stories you get to create. No limit on the friendships you can cultivate and lives you can touch.
There are no limits in life unless you put them there. You may have to get creative. You may have to think outside the box. You may need to acclimate to some new normals. You will have to do the work. But, just because life is chock full of struggles that doesn’t mean happy times are over for good. They’re there, just waiting for you. Don’t get lost in the conflicts of life for there are and will be many.
I am optimistically realistic that I will have many, many more struggles in my life but I am just as optimistically realistic I will have happiness and peace, as well.
And that my friends is the point.
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