Sometimes life is hard, that’s a given. But sometimes life is also really amazing.
I always thought life was one or the other or somewhere in between. It’s crazy to think that there could be life that exists in both places at once. It would have never occurred to me that it was even possible to live in the highs and lows all at the same time.
This year has been both one of the best years of my life and one of the most difficult. I have a hard time saying it was one of the worst years of my life because what even is that? I’ve had hard years, but I can’t narrow down a worst. Perhaps the year we lived in Raleigh when I was so anxiety-ridden over threats that Styles’ biological dad was going to kidnap him. That was a pretty bad year, but it resulted in Kyle legally adopting Styles and that is a beautiful thing.
Maybe it was the year Styles’ bio dad finally (thank you, God), left me for another woman and I spent a good 6 months getting far too drunk every Thursday night. But that resulted in a lot of self exploration and growing up and I needed that time to become the strong willed woman I am today.
Going even further back, maybe it was the year that we moved to Alaska and I couldn’t even go to school for two weeks because I was so afraid of being in a new place and so far behind in Math that I didn’t want to appear dumb. But that resulted in living an amazing life in Alaska surrounded by beauty and experiences I wouldn’t trade my worst days for.
Each bad year resulted in significant personal growth, lessons learned, personalities developed. Each bad year ended at some point and helped me grow.
I can’t imagine looking back on this year and thinking, “My God, that was a bad year” because it hasn’t been a bad year. It’s been an amazing year professionally, for my family, personally. I have achieved more professionally this year than I have in the last 7 years combined. I saw things happen I had dreamed about but had forgotten I had dreamed about. I finally got to go to NYC for the first time in my life with some of my best friends.
Then I got to go again with the love of my life and experience an emotional reconnection I wasn’t sure we’d ever have the opportunity to experience. My marriage is so strong now, but to get there we’ve had some pretty low valleys that we’ve both trudged through. I became a public speaker this year, and people liked me. They really liked me!
I never anticipated becoming so sick in August that I wouldn’t be able to function at even 50% for over a month, or that the illness would result in needing major surgery that would take longer to recover from than I could have imagined. I never would have thought it would take me so long to get back into the swing of work when I returned after two very difficult months. I never could have imagined that while Kyle and I were in New York that I would find out my grandfather had inoperable brain cancer. Nobody knew that only three weeks later he would be breathing his last breath with my dementia-ridden grandmother – the love of his life – at his side.
And it has been hard, so hard. I’ve had to let things go I didn’t want to let go. I’ve had to die a little to myself to repair my marriage and to have the humility to say “I failed” on the things I failed on.
But I still can’t say it’s been the worst year, because it’s been full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It has been a year from which I will grow. It has been a year from which I have learned some of life’s most difficult, humbling lessons while experiencing some of the most amazing things I am proud to have been part of.
What makes this, my very difficult year, so different from someone else who may have experienced the same things?
I refuse to let life get the better of me. I am stronger than every situation I am thrust into and I make a decision every, single day to carry on. Some days that decision is much more difficult to make than others, but I make it nonetheless. I try to find the gemstones of knowledge in every situation I go through because I believe every negative situation has a lesson to be learned and I seek that lesson out because I never want to stop growing personally.
I know I am not my best person. I can always become better. This year, full of high highs and low lows has been wonderfully wonderful and frightfully difficult, but I’ve endured. I haven’t always thrived, and it hasn’t always been pretty, but I’ve endured.
Why in the name of all things holy am I rambling? What are you to learn from this? Be happy. Be humble. Learn from every situation you are graced with, bad or good. Bad days, bad weeks, bad months; they don’t last forever. Never stop growing and never stop making the decision to be the best you can be, even when it’s hard. Character is built in trying times and tested in good times. Don’t waste your lows, consume them and let them nourish you for when you need the lessons they offer.