In my early twenties, people would continually ask me “how are you always so positive?” I would frequently hear comments like “you’re always so happy and energetic…I want whatever medicine you’re on!” During the years that I was constantly identified as a bubbly, positive, optimistic, “energizer bunny” individual, I remember a co-worker saying to me “It will be interesting to see what you’re like when life hits you.” I remember feeling taken aback by this comment because at that time, in my optimistic mind, I didn’t think anything or anyone could change these characteristics about me. Well, he was right….life hit and I became jaded. I can’t think of the last time someone has applauded me for having endless amounts of energy and being the picture of an overly positive person.
The past few years of my life have brought about many blessings, but the years haven’t been short of heartache and despair either. Through the course of a few life experiences, two major events that have “hit me” have been my struggle with infertility and anxiety. I have slowly watched myself turn into a quieter, more doubtful, and worry-laden individual. I used to be the person everyone sought for positivity and inspiration, and today, after “life hit me,” I find myself seeking that from others a lot more than what I can provide for myself.
Infertility= a “life hit”
After our tumultuous journey with infertility, I realized how depleted I felt. My rambunctious and excitable spirit was no longer. I had actually begun to believe and experience for myself that really crappy things happen to good people. I developed a jealous heart. My optimistic look at the world had quickly turned into a pessimistic one. No longer could I maintain this idea of optimism when my dream of becoming a mother had been shattered too many times.
Fast-forward to today and I rejoice in stating that I am blessed with two children and one on the way. I am extremely thankful for overcoming my battle with infertility; however I still haven’t regained my positive spirit. In fact, I have gained anxiety. Anxiety that likes to lay dormant until I start infertility treatments, get pregnant, and the first 6-8 months of my child’s life. Yep, anxiety, what a wonderful thing life has “hit me” with this time.
Anxiety= a “life hit”
Pregnancy is such a happy time for many. It is a time of indescribable bonding and love that develops for someone you’ve never even met. It is a time where splurging on a meal (or two) doesn’t make you feel guilty…besides you’re eating for two right?! It is a time where no one (well maybe your sleepless toddler who obviously didn’t get the memo that it was “mommy and me” nap time) can deny you of a nap to catch some extra z’s. For me, however, pregnancy is nine months of relentless anxiety and pure fear. Fear that I am going to eat something that is going to cause me to develop Listeriosis. Fear that I am going to attend one of my routine checks and not hear the heartbeat on the Doppler. Fear that I’ve spent joyful energy creating a precious nursery that I may never get to use.
When I was about 28 weeks pregnant with my daughter, the fear was consuming my life and I knew I needed help. At this time, I started seeing a therapist to help with overcoming my fears of Listeria and losing my baby. I was strongly encouraged by my healthcare team and friends to start taking medication to help with my fear and anxiety. As badly as I wanted to, and as desperate as I was to feel some relief from the anxiety, I didn’t begin taking anxiety medication until a week before my daughter’s birth.
As I assess my current pregnancy, I am still just as scared of losing this baby. I am still early in my pregnancy and am trying to hold off until after the first trimester to start taking medication. This time around, I won’t be resisting the help. I know taking something for my anxiety is best for my growing baby, my family, and me.
As I share these words, I pause and think “Wow, who would have ever thought that carefree, endlessly happy girl that I was would become this woman full of fear and angst?”
If I could see my colleague again and tell him how I have changed since “life hit me”, I would tell him just this. “Yes life hit, and it indeed jaded me. While I am no longer the overwhelmingly positive, spirited, carefree girl that I used to be, I am now a woman made up of good and bad experiences. No matter what the experience, I will never let it do anything except help me to learn and further develop as an individual.”
“Life hits” have made me more assertive, more of a realist, more anxious, more fearful, and more emotionally complex. “Life hits” have also forced me to persevere; have encouraged me to stand up for myself, and have baked up a love for advocating for others and sharing even the most personal parts of my life in order to help others normalize the struggles they’re going through. It is inevitable that the experiences gained from our own personal struggles could be just the inspiration someone else is looking for to overcome their struggle.
So yes, life has hit me, but it hasn’t taken me down, it has simply changed me. For the good? Not necessarily. For the bad? Not necessarily. The change in myself is what it is…good or bad, it’s who I am and I am at peace with that. Sure, I have days when I am down, days where worry has consumed my ability to see the beauty in an experience. I have to remember these are just a handful of the days, and that they won’t define my life.
I will consciously ride this journey of life, not for the destinations, but for the lessons I can learn. Lessons that I hope will make me a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter, and a better friend. I will have shortcomings and I will have failings, but as long a I keep learning and striving to be the person I want to be, and not letting “”life hits” get the best of me, that is good enough for me.
Some food for thought through these reflections
- Who we are today is not who we will be in 5, 10, and even 20 years from now. Approach life with confidence knowing that you are exactly who you are supposed to be. Your strengths and weaknesses make the perfect balance of what makes you, you.
- Everything that happens to you, happens for a reason. Refrain from comparing yourself to who you used to be; just because you are different now, this doesn’t make you a lesser version of yourself.
- No matter how hard life gets, believe that the struggle provided you with an opportunity to grow. Allow yourself to have “bad days” and even “down days,” because the reality is that life can really drag you down, but make a point to pull yourself up and remember all of the love and blessings surrounding you.
- It’s okay if you can’t do everything by yourself; lean on your loved one’s for support and always let them know that they can lean on you too.
- Don’t stretch yourself too thin; prioritize what is important to you. Make decisions based on what is best for you and your loved ones. It’s okay if you make a mistake, but it is not okay if you don’t take the opportunity to learn from it.
- Be kind to yourself and strive to act in ways that will help you to lay your head comfortably down on your pillow every night, feeling as though you did the best you could do today.
- Life is going to “hit” and when it does, give yourself permission to feel the feelings associated with every “hit,” give yourself time to emotionally handle the “hit,” allow yourself to change because of it, and do your absolute best to embrace “the hit” and seek the next pathway of life…you never know what is next!