In my darkest hour, when I’m feeling most frustrated and out of control, I always find myself coming back to this quote, “Life is not about the adversity we face, but how we react in the face of that adversity.”
This is one of my dad’s favorite lines, and as much as it pains me to say it sometimes, he’s right. It took me a while to fully appreciate the wisdom of this quote, but since coming to college, I have found more meaning in it than ever.
When I get angry at a situation, I often catch find myself thinking, “if they had just done this instead of that…” or “if only…” This is a dangerous path to go down, and I have to stop myself before I get buried in an avalanche of hypothetical situations.
I take a deep breath, and then, without fail, I hear my dad’s voice repeating that quote to me.
Here’s the thing: Life isn’t fair. Things are not going to go my way sometimes. Hell, a lot of the time. I don’t get to decide if I get that summer internship.
I don’t get to choose whether people will like me or not. It’s not up to me to determine how long I get to keep my Papa around.
I’m just one person, one human, and there are a million and one things out of my control. When you learn to accept life’s hardships for what they are, instead of fighting against them, an enormous weight is lifted off your shoulders.
Here is what I try to remind myself to focus on: I can control my reaction to whatever curve ball life throws at me. I can decide whether I’m going to panic and throw a fit, or whether I’m going to keep moving forward and have a positive attitude. If nothing else, I can control my attitude and my effort.
If I don’t get that summer internship, I’ll apply to the next one. If people don’t like me, I’ll find other people who appreciate me for who I am. If my Papa can’t be with us much longer, I’ll make the most of the time we have left.
Even though I can’t control everything, it doesn’t mean that I can’t control anything. I’m not helpless, and I’m not a victim, and I can control how happy I am going to be.
Because the story is never about the failure. The real story is always about the extraordinary people who overcame that failure.
Everyone is going through something, but the people that are happiest are the ones who can find a reason to smile through it all, the good and the bad.
I’m not saying that I always have the greatest reaction. I freak out, and I have meltdowns, and I have days where it all just seems like it’s one too many things for me to handle. We all do.
And I think it’s OK to have those brief moments just for yourself. But you can’t wallow in it. It reaches a point to where you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Remind yourself to focus on the what is in your power, and let go of the variables.
In the end, you and I both have to come back to the quote to pull you out of those dark moments. “Life is not about the adversity you face, but how you react in the face of the adversity.” What reaction will you choose today?