That which does not kill us makes us stronger. ~ Kanye West (…or Friedrich Nietzsche)
They say that everything happens for a reason – and while I’m not sure how much you (or I) buy into the whole fate mentality – I recently had a moment of clarity. In spite of the fact I have experienced what was by far the most challenging year of my life, for the first time ever, I felt truly and genuinely grateful for it.
It may sound cliché, and I’ve mentioned it before, but our experiences – good or bad – shape who we are. For a long time I have been frustrated and discouraged; I’d convinced myself that the universe was working against me and that no matter how hard I tried I would never get ahead. During this recent ‘eureka’ moment, not only did I feel gratitude, but I came to realize that instead of kicking me while I was down, maybe the universe was actually just pushing me to recognize my own potential.
As crappy as it was at the time, hitting (my subjective) ‘rock bottom’ last spring provided me with an opportunity to re-evaluate my life in a way I’d never done before.
In hindsight (which is always 20/20) there are a lot of things I’d have done differently if I had a chance to repeat the last few years of my life – but then again, I probably wouldn’t feel that way if things hadn’t happened the way they did in the first place. Regardless, at ‘rock bottom’ I started to really assess what I wanted my life to look like moving forward.
What needed to change? What would I no longer tolerate? What kind of people did I want to associate myself with? What were my goals and how was I going to achieve them? Who was I and who was the person I wanted to be?
Evidently, there were a number of questions running through my head, and at the time they arose I had no effing clue what any of the answers were. All I knew was that my life needed to change for the better; and so, as eloquently stated by J.K. Rowling, “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the past months have been filled with their ups and downs; however, I have learned, I have grown, and I have excelled in ways I never thought possible. I have stepped outside my comfort zone and I have rebuilt my life from the ground up. I have made an incredible network of new friends, I’ve reconnected with old friends I'd neglected, I’ve joined sports teams, I’ve integrated myself into Vancouver’s outdoor community, I started a mental health blog that has been published by multiple organizations (yes, you’re reading it!), and I’m both mentally and physically stronger than I have ever been in my life.
Closing the Can of Worms
"Sometimes a thing needed opening before closure was found" ~ Hugh Howey
For a very long time I resented the challenges I’d faced, so when I finally understood that maybe they weren’t such a bad thing after all, with it came some long awaited closure.
Ironically, the very same day I was subjected to the moment of clarity about my shitty year, someone from the past unexpectedly reentered my life. The timing of it was pretty crazy; and if we want to continue with the ‘everything happens for a reason’ theme, you might even say it was fate. Seeing their name (in combination with my new found appreciation for crappy experiences) incited a desire in me to seek closure in as many areas of my life as possible – I didn’t anticipate finding a more perfect opportunity.
I won’t bore you with the details, but despite a fear of reopening old wounds, connecting with this person not only lifted a weight off my shoulders that I didn’t even realize was there, but also created an opportunity for what I hope will be the start of a pretty awesome friendship.
Metaphorical Speed Bumps & Philosophical Quandaries
Although content, all of this recent contemplation about fate, and life, and rocks, and bottoms has left me feeling pretty drained. In general, I’ve concluded that the “bad” experiences of the past year have provided me with a new found appreciation for the good ones– and all of the roadblocks in the way of my happiness have only motivated me to drive over them until I get where I want to be (ideally without a dented car or a speeding ticket).
Don’t get me wrong, the process was, and still is, a slow one. There are still many things I want for myself that I have not yet achieved. There are still days where I am frustrated and discouraged. There are often fleeting (and sometimes enduring) moments where I’m convinced that maybe the universe is pissed at me after all. But at the end of the day, I try to remind myself that one step forward and two steps back is moving forward nonetheless.
If you ever find yourself at ‘rock bottom’, remember that there is nowhere else to go but up.