“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make everybody but yourself, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” —E. E. Cummings
The hands we are dealt in life are not always welcome. They can cause physical pain and emotional heartache, close us off to possibilities, discourage our hopes and dreams. But they can also give us perspective, open the door to new opportunities, and shape us into better versions of our younger selves.
I am a happy person, but my life has not been fueled by rainbows and butterflies. Where I am today is a direct reflection of the independent outlook I have on life and the people and events I’ve mingled with along the way–both good and bad, positive and negative.
Maybe I strive to be an eternal optimist. Maybe it’s my natural intuition to trust my gut over a list of pros and cons. Or maybe it’s my past catching up with my present that’s shaping my future. Whatever the maybe, I don’t regret the challenges, curve balls and surprises that have been thrown my way. Without these blessings in disguise, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse.” –Anthon St. Marteen
If I had not been born with both a heart condition and an athlete’s heart, I might have taken my athleticism for granted. I might not have welcomed the challenge of pole vaulting when advised against it. I might have listened to doctors and statistics and never fought the odds. I might not have realized that my heart is both a beating organ in my chest and a synonym for my feelings. So, thank you, dilapidated heart, for teaching me that there are two outcomes to every story.
If I had not been robbed in Ecuador, I might not have needed to travel into the city alone to visit the doctor to refill the medicine that had been stolen from me. I might not have then had the guts to travel to the coast by myself when my companion’s plans fell through last minute. Without these experiences, I might not have had the confidence in myself to travel solo. So, thank you, Ecuadorian muggers, for pushing me to believe in my capabilities, for sparking a fire for solo female travel in my heart, one that I’m constantly feeding and never plan on letting die out.
If I had not contracted Lyme Disease, I might not have moved to the Florida Keys, expanding my zoological knowledge and acting prowess. I would not have had the opportunity to move to the Bahamas and experience the real island life. So, thank you Lyme Disease, for proving to me the strengths of the human mind to overcome physical pain, for showcasing the adaptability of the human spirit to make and embrace change and growth.
If I had not dated boyfriends 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, I would not know myself the way I do. I would not understand my wants and needs, and I might find myself settling. I might have believed that you can’t be friends with your ex and that every relationship that ends has to be messy. I might have always been left wondering if we could be great together. So, thank you, ex-boyfriends, for shining a capacity for my own forgiveness, understanding and healing that I might never have known, for encouraging me to love myself before committing to someone else, for letting me know when is the right moment to compromise, for proving to me that the heartache and memories were worth it.
If I hadn’t lived through Hurricane Joaquin, I would not have the tried and true empathy to help my Ecuadorian friends struggling with the aftermath of the devastating April 16 7.8-magnitude earthquake. I would likely not be in Seattle today, merging my passions for animals, acting and writing. So, thank you, Hurricane Joaquin, for giving me perspective I didn’t know I was lacking, for showing me what is important in life, for teaching me what it means to be there for someone, and for guiding me along the lonely and arduous rode to self-fulfillment and happiness.
Every moment in life, the bold and the timid, the fleeting and long-term, the smiling and taxing times, creates our present-day selves. What we do with those moments is up to us. What version of ourselves do we want to be?