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How To Stay Sane When Everything Is Going Wrong

Have you ever had a day, or a week, or a month where so much went wrong in such a short amount of time that it was almost funny? Like, it was a laugh to keep from crying situation, but you were already crying and couldn’t quite bring yourself to laugh?

It was one thing after another. It was something big, then something little, then something huge then something in between. And the fact that it all happened the week of my birthday only made it worse. I’ve always liked my birthday. I felt a calm confidence approaching my 26th birthday. I feel like girls my age are constantly melting down about getting married and having kids — and don’t get me wrong, I want the same things most women do too.  And I get anxious about the future too. But for the most part, I’ve just been excited. I don’t feel like life is ending. I don’t feel like doors are closing. I feel like life is mostly good and I’m just trying to enjoy where I’m at. Also, based on my mom, aunt and grandmother I’ll look younger than I am for most of my life, and I care a lot more about looking like I’m in my early 20s than being in them.

I wasn’t dreading turning 26 because I feel like I put everything I had into 25. And 24. And 23 was one of the worst and most formative years of my life. I welcomed another year and its potential. I don’t have super high expectations for my birthday any more, the same way I don’t have super high expectations for New Years Eve. I just make some plans and hope for the best.

But in the days leading up to my birthday, it felt like most things that possibly could go wrong did go wrong. And I told myself it was okay, because at least I would have my birthday and the weekend to enjoy. But my birthday has been the 2nd worst day of the week so far. By 8 o clock when I finally got home I was just doing my best not to cry in public.

Thinking about this week honestly just hurts. Not in an excruciating way, like you’re burning alive. But in an exhausted way. Like you’ve slept 4 hours at most the past 6 nights. And you ran a marathon that you didn’t prepare enough for and your body is screaming. And your dehydrated. And you’re hungry. And all you want to do is get in bed. But you get home and your apartment is flooded.

I made a list of the things that went wrong this week. Then I made a list of things that made me happy this week. Because when we’re upset we have a tendency to zero in on everything bad, while overlooking and downplaying everything good.

I had talked about taking a big trip by myself this year, not thinking I’d go through with it. But it’s official. The Airbnb is booked. The flight is confirmed. I’m going to Europe for the first time this year. My roommates bought me dinner on my birthday. And my best friend who was probably the busiest she’s ever been made time to listen to me and empathize with me over things that probably won’t matter in a year. Not that that’s out of the ordinary for her, but a friend making time to hear you out — even when it’s inconvenient — goes a long way.

Other good things happened this week too. And I’m doing my best to hold onto them, and appreciate them. Because I know how easy it is to just exacerbate our problems while we ignore the good. And there is always good, even if it’s hard to find at first. Because even if life doesn’t feel “good” in general right now, focusing on the good where I can will be what gets me through this point in my life, and help me avoid turning bad moments into bad days (or weeks, or months). I cried a lot this week. But I smiled a lot this week too.

There’s a little passage I like walking through in my neighborhood; it’s filled with plants and trees, and I love walking through it especially in the spring and summer. I feel like my mood automatically improves as soon as I walk through the entrance. Obviously, most plants and trees are dead in January, so walking through it recently I noticed how ugly it is in the winter. Seriously, it’s so depressing to look at.

And there hasn’t been any real snow here so far this year, so it doesn’t even have that going for it. It’s just hideous. But it will be beautiful again. And my life will be better again, even though I can’t say for certain when that will be. Maybe a week from now, maybe six months from now. Of course, Ill do what I can to take control of my life, and make it the best it can be. But I think those really great days, and weeks and months come without warning. And until they come to us, we have to soak up the really great moments scattered between the bad ones.

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