Growing up, it has constantly been drilled into my head that “other people have it worse”. There’s people that have no money, no family members, or are extremely sick. I can see how that can make someone feel more optimistic about their own situation. But, by the same token, when they are going through something difficult, it feels like a way to minimize those problems.
Of course, I believe that we should take the time to see how blessed we are, but I also think that we should allow ourselves to feel pain. There are going to be times in life when it’s difficult to deal with what is before us, but if we try to muscle it out and ignore our emotions, we will eventually break. I believe that everything we feel, good or bad, is valid. With that said, those negative feelings are useless if they do not lead to action.
There really are two options when faced with a challenge: become resilient or completely crumble. How you will respond all depends on how you choose to view the issue.
From one point of view, the present looks like my recent epilepsy diagnosis that took away my ability to be independent, constant doctor’s office visits, and crippling depression from the maximum dosage of my anti-seizure medication.
From another point of view, the present looks like having the opportunity to intern in my field of study, being surrounded by people who love and care about me, and being fortunate enough to spend my weekends at the happiest place I have ever known (the beach).
There’s always going to be different ways you can look at life. You can see it as out to get you, or you can see it as a blessing. It’s not easy to see how the really hard times could become positive when you’re in them. It takes serious commitment and optimism to look ahead to when the storm has passed.
Being positive about my diagnosis is certainly not an everyday thing. In fact, most mornings, I get in the car and resent every second of the twenty-five minute car ride in the passenger seat of my own car. I know I’m perfectly capable of driving to work by myself, but my condition puts myself and other drivers at risk.
However, every so often, I remind myself to be thankful that my mom believes in me and cares enough to sacrifice a good part of her day driving me to and from work. It’s not a given that a parent would care enough to do that for their grown child, only a parent who wants their child to be successful.
As time goes on, I become more used to my limitations, and it becomes a little bit easier. I find that there are more mornings when I am thankful for what I have instead of being resentful of what I cannot do.
It’s all about perspective. If I had not been diagnosed, I would be able to drive a car, but I wouldn’t have been able to help the other epileptics I have already reached through my writing. I wouldn’t have been able to find out who really cares and who is willing to weather the storm along with me. But most importantly, I wouldn’t have been able to see that life is too short and too fragile to waste.
There is hope in everything. There is opportunity for positive change after every negative event. It is so easy to lose sight of that, especially when you’re right in the middle of the storm. Let yourself feel the anger, the pain, and the frustration for a little while. Then, take that energy and consciously direct it towards something better. Take the energy and use it as fuel to fix the problem or to help someone else.