Has there ever been a time in your life where you thought you had it all figured out and then a bomb goes off? A moment when life is going really smooth. You have a good job. You are happy with your significant other. You feel fulfilled in your social life. You are healthy. And you almost feel like you have nothing major to complain about. Well there is a very specific time in my life, which honestly was not super long ago, that I felt like this. And I'm still trying to string together all the pieces of my life that were going so well and then abruptly took a turn for the worse. It was like I was driving down the highway of life, blasting Beyoncé, without a care in the world when I suddenly missed a turn and ended up on a dark path with no clear way to get out.
It was during the spring of twenty seventeen that the walls started to crash around me. Right before this, I felt like I was checking off each box of things in life that make someone happy. Starting fresh with an old relationship. Check. Happy in my current role at work. Check. Best girl squad. Check. Check. Feeling like my best self health wise- both physically and mentally. Check. Feeling grateful for where my life is. Check.
During that spring, my sister and I attended a workout class at my cousin's church every week. We would workout for the first half hour and spend the remainder of our time in small groups led by discussion questions. In our huddle, one of the women read the first question. "What are areas in your life where you feel like you are struggling?" Each member of the group went around and spoke candidly about difficult times they were going through. Difficulties related to all the categories I listed - relationships, work, family, health - you name it. As everyone was speaking, my brain was searching so hard to find one thing I was struggling with. One thing that was heavy on my heart. Even though in that moment of my life I'm sure I had tough times around me but there wasn't one big moment that I felt had rocked my world. I thought to myself, "I've struggled before when I was younger. Like really struggled. And nothing I am going through right now even holds a candle to that."
"I can't think of an area where I am struggling. I feel like for once my life is pretty put together and I'm genuinely happy," was the first thing I said once it was my turn. And after listening to other women talk, it made me question my own answer. I didn't want it to come off like I drew the winning stick of life while the rest of these women were handed short sticks. So I followed that up with, "It feels like I don't deserve this. I've had tough, tough times and I don't know what I did to now be so happy."
After this meeting, I honestly didn't think much about this conversation. Life carried on the way it had been and I honestly felt fulfilled in all areas of my life. It was a couple of months later that this changed. And looking back, it changed kind of abruptly. For one, I was back in a relationship that I believed was on track for the long run. The next six months of that relationship were some of the hardest months that I've personally been through. And all while that was happening, my job situation changed and it was no longer a positive work environment for me. I began carrying my frustrations and stress from work home with me, which is something I hadn't done before. And towards the end of this six month period, it was the first time in my life where I was going through some health issues that I had never experienced before.
You know the saying when it rains, it pours? I felt like a hurricane was surrounding me and I was in the eye of the storm. I wondered to myself, "why did my feelings bring me back to someone if it was only going to end again?" At this point, I had many years of history with that person - ten to be exact - and I questioned why the path I was on led me back to him. And then of course on top of that, I no longer felt driven in my job. I wasn't motivated. I felt like I would come to work and feel exhausted just being there. And this was partly due to the personal factors in my life. I kept thinking, "what else is going to be thrown at me?"
As you can imagine, all of this started to stir up my anxiety. I was surrounded by waves of it and they were hitting the shores of my life. For most of my life I've always felt really healthy but towards the end of this six month period, that started to change. I started noticing I wasn't sleeping well. I was losing my appetite. I felt nauseous almost every day on top of many other symptoms. I thought to myself, "is this anxiety? Or is this something more?" Had I reached my limit of 'normal' anxiety and it was now time for it to manifest in physical symptoms? It was clear it was taking over many areas of my life. This was especially evident when I was in urgent care being prescribed medication to treat an ulcer. I was now joining the ulcer club, in great company with my dad and grandpa. As I laid in that room, with my parents, crying, they empathetically said to me, "it's going to get better."
And they were right. It has gotten better. Do I have it all figured out? Absolutely not. I'm still trying to figure out why my car swerved off that road and onto a much harder and difficult path. Why does life give us such high highs and the lowest of lows? What is the meaning beyond all of it? Throughout this period of my life there have been moments of deep sadness. Moments of such uncertainty. Moments where I felt like I wouldn't get back to the girl who was happy and thought she had life figured out. The question of 'why did this happen' repeatedly strung throughout all these moments.
Everything happens for a reason.
Let me repeat that. Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe this. There is a reason life dramatically changed for me. Was I too naive before? Was I simply just coasting by and mistaking that for happiness? What change in my life was I in need of making? So again, everything happens for a reason. And while in each moment of darkness it is hard to remember this, it is always important to keep in the back of your mind. I know there are lessons I've learned through all of these situations. And some of those lessons have been painful. But they've humbled me and above all, taught me a lot about self love and the relationship I have with myself.
I believe the greatest strength is found through growing and evolving. Strength you probably didn't know you had. I know in the last almost two years, I've made progress. I've made progress in healing. I've made progress in the path I see my career taking. And while my health is still a work in progress, it is progress nonetheless. There's another cliché quote that I love- It's either a blessing or a lesson. Through trying times I always try to remind myself of this. Life can truly suck some days. Trust me, I can still feel like that. But it helps to know that my anxiety is not in vain. There is a lesson to be learned in all of this.
So whatever season of life you are currently in, keep pushing through. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There can be moments where it is easy to forget this but from my experience, it always gets better. It will get better. Trust that.