“Keep faith: You always breakdown before the breakthrough”.

This is the mantra that I live by when I’m struggling through something. It’s so easy to get frustrated by the hard times and forget about all the good times I’ve experienced or built towards. Blaming God is not the answer for the situation in life that I find myself in. We all have a plan – I know, I know, we’ve all heard that before – where everything makes sense. I know well enough that things don’t always work out perfectly or how you expect them to, but there is always a silver lining to hardship.

I don’t think that we have to earn our good experiences through suffering, but boy is it satisfying to work through something and finally see the light again. Honestly, I always feel like i’ve grown as a person, physically and emotionally and learned how to deal with things myself, and how to use the support system of people and institutions around me.

After all, without the darkness we’d never notice the light.

Subsequent to that, light is not simply the absence of darkness, it just means that the light in that moment is stronger than the darkness. Nothing is permanent. Just as I know I won’t always be calm and well-fed post-Christmas, I also know that I won’t always be this stressed and anxious about school or work. Things pass, life goes on. We just have to make sure we move with it and don’t stay still blaming other people and waiting for life to magically get us through the hard times without any effort on our part.

I know how life gets. Seriously, I do. I know the ups and the downs and the hills and the valleys better than most. It’s one of the pitfalls of being a chronic over-thinker and general ‘spiraller’. We don’t love that for me, frankly. 

But if there is one thing I’ve noticed on all my multitudinous years on this earth, there is a golden rule to note. 

Hard times come with good times. Charles Dickens said it, so did Paramore. If that isn’t well-rounded support, I don’t know what is.

I’ve found this in two occasions in the last month alone. 

I like to think of it as the universe’s illogical way of restoring justice and recalibrating the karma of some of the people around us. You know, when you were already stressed about money and work but then your friend stumbles upon a way to make easy money. Or gets promoted without even applying. And it makes you want to die just a little. It is super frustrating though, because you always want to be happy for your friend, because you genuinely love them. You want to have their interests at heart.

Their success is great, but it doesn’t make your hard times and struggle any better – so I learned to communicate these ugly feelings, and share them with my friends when I was in those periods of anxiety and depression. 

But yes, there you are – precariously poised to fall off the precipice of a new crisis.

Only we hear our worst thoughts and darkest fears and weirdest secrets and therefore we’re all convinced that we’re the worst person in the room. Through simple maths, though – that’s just not true. Logistically, we can’t all be terrible. 

Or, maybe we’re all terrible – just a little – and that’s okay. 

I’m going to level with you, guys. Being sad is hard. Like, super duper lemon difficult. Did that make sense? It didn’t need to. It rivals the likes of heartbreak and grief in terms of the way that it seems inescapable and suffocating. Like you’re at sea and can’t even get your lungs clear of water long enough to cry for help. You can see the waves coming and coming and breaking and crashing down on you, but you’re never beached or released and deposited to the sandy beaches.

Go figure. 

But real talk. Sadness. It creeps and lurches and mottles and an all manner of other unsightly adjectives. We don’t love it. We even fear that we can’t love. Yeah, it gets dark, we know.

It sneaks up on you, that’s the troubling part. You can be minding your own business, thinking you were fairly content in your life situation, and suddenly you have an off day at work and stub your toe on the door and you’re crying in the bathroom stalls at the gym. How did we get here? Why do we continue to get in this position every Friday night?

Questions, questions. I mean that’s a great starting point for identifying what’s happened.

Or, as the case may be, not happened.

Let’s try to unpack the emotions that we’re feeling and check them in as they pass through the threshold. Add a ‘Why’ to each example and reason it out. Sometimes we need to hear things aloud, or in a funny accent or very slowly for them to actually register. It’s a way of getting out of our own headspace and trying to gain a little perspective. 

Anger? Unwrap it. It’s probably insecurity. Allow yourself to feel it and overcome it.

So, thank you, God. I know that you give me good times with hard times. It’s not just about powering through life, but learning from experiences to become stronger for the future.

2020, come at me, bro.