How many times in your life have you struggled through a challenging period — issues with a job, an illness, difficulties with a spouse or child, home renovations that never seem to end, financial stress, etc. etc.?
I’m guessing we all have something that comes to mind.
It probably felt like such a huge burden when you were right in the middle of it… but looking back, it might not seem as horrible. In fact, you might even find yourself thinking or saying something like, “it wasn’t so bad” when recalling those past situations.
Here are a few examples from my own life…
- Various tests, projects, papers, and exams when I was in school
- Training for and running the River Bank Run (25K) when I was in college (have I mentioned how much I hate running!)
- Not getting the job I first applied for after college
- When our car blew a tire on the way home from California (on a Sunday) with ALLLL Dave’s worldly possessions packed into the trunk (and yes, the spare tire was under the trunk!)
- Trying to start up my blog and losing many DAYS of work after the changes didn’t save
- Our kitchen renovation — especially after they delivered the wrong cabinets for the SECOND time
- Nora’s extreme clinginess, sensory issues, and inability to sleep through the night until after she was 3
- When our roof started leaking in the middle of the night and we literally had 6 different buckets collecting water inside our house
- Whenever I bring another baby home from the hospital and wonder how on earth we are going to handle one more!
I could keep going, but I think you get the idea…
All of these examples seem extremely trivial now (yes, even to me) but they prove my point that many periods of life feel so heavy, stressful, complicated, and horrible at the time, but are almost laughable once you finally “see the light” and make it out on the other side of the dark tunnel.
NOTE: For the purpose of this post, all of my examples above truly are very small problems in the grand scheme of life.
I am NOT referring to huge life-altering situations like the loss of a loved-one, a messy divorce, chronic illnesses, mental health struggles, financial ruin, wandering faith struggles, etc.
My intentions are not to trivialize those extremely difficult situations — but rather to share some of my thoughts about what I’ve learned from some of the smaller struggles in my own life.
Here are 3 examples from my own life…
After having 3 very different babies, Dave and I have joked over and over and OVER again how different our parenting perspective is now, versus right after Nora was born.
One example that immediately comes to mind is some of the sleep issues we’ve been having with James (I’m sure I’ll share more later). It has gotten to the point where his sleeping (or lack of) is bringing me right back to how desperately tired I felt when Nora was around his same age (6-12 months).
There have been nights when I get almost no sleep and then need to take care of 3 crazy kids the next day… and there are only so many days that I can be a relatively pleasant mom after getting so few hours of sleep.
However, even though Dave and I are both very tired, it feels TOTALLY different than it did when Nora was a baby and we were experiencing this type of sleeplessness for the very first time.
Yes, we are still tired and frustrated that we aren’t getting more sleep… but at the same time, we have “seen the light at the end of the tunnel” and we realize the sleeplessness won’t last forever.
Eventually, James will start sleeping and life will go on — after all, if I could make it through 3 years of Nora not sleeping, I can certainly deal with James not sleeping for a while.
In the meantime, we will say “no” to anything that’s not necessary, we will go to bed early whenever we can, I will take “rests” with Nora in the afternoon, and we will look for any opportunity to simplify and streamline the rest of our lives.
In another few years, we’ll look back and joke about “that year when Simon was the only child who slept through the night and we were up with Nora and James multiple times every night.”
I regularly get emails from people who are right in the middle of a big home renovation and wishing they never even started. They are so overwhelmed and frustrated and stressed… it doesn’t even seem worth it. Yes, I know that feeling!
I have felt tired, annoyed, frustrated, overwhelmed, and even downright angry with various home and yard renovation projects we have tackled over the past several years.
There have been MANY times I wanted to quit, to throw in the towel, to call in a professional to finish the job… I even told Dave I just wanted to move into a brand new house and be done with the crazy quirks of our old house once and for all.
However, then we make a huge amount of progress and we “see the light at the end of the tunnel”… and it motivates me to keep pushing forward.
And of course, when the project is finished, I can often look back and agree that it really wasn’t that bad — and it was definitely worth all the hard work and effort.
Starting Up A Business:
I’ve always been somewhat entrepreneurial by nature (if you know my parents, you would not be surprised)… but when I actually decided that I was going to start my own business, I felt SO overwhelmed.
Not only did I have NO idea what I was doing, I also had NO idea if I was going to make any money (and to be honest, I really didn’t make much money those first 3-4 years!)
I didn’t know how to start a blog or a website (at the time, we didn’t even have internet at home!!!!) I didn’t know how to file my taxes or really even how to keep track of my income and expenses. I didn’t know how to register a business name. I didn’t really even know how to find clients.
It was a rough first couple of years… but I kept pushing forward, learning from my mistakes, and growing all the time. I could see the light flickering at the end of the tunnel, and it was getting brighter and brighter!
Now, 9 years later, I can honestly say that I LOVE what I do. This is the absolute perfect job for me at this point in my life — which is so crazy since I never would have expected to be doing what I’m doing now way back when I first started my business (I didn’t even know what a blog was back then!)
It was definitely worth all the long nights, the frustration, and the mistakes — and yes, Dave and I have laughed over some of the ridiculous things I did way back then in attempts to grow my business 🙂
Whether it’s an organizing project, a weight loss journey, financial struggles, home renovations, a difficult pregnancy, starting up a business, planning a wedding, dealing with problems at work or home, or spending all day every day with a fussy baby, a crabby toddler, and a preschool diva — I have found that it is often helpful to take a step back and realize that this is just a phase.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel (even if it seems very dark right now). If you can catch a glimmer of that light, it will most likely motivate you to keep moving forward. And as the light gets brighter, you’ll want to move faster!
Then, all of a sudden, you’ll realize that you’ve made it through that difficult period… and soon, you might even catch yourself saying or thinking, “that really wasn’t so bad” as you reminisce about that once-overwhelming time.
The cool thing about this process (in my opinion), is that once you make it out of the tunnel, the whole process is often easier the next time (like how James’ sleep issues are easier for me to deal with than Nora’s were… and how home renovations are easier for us to handle now than they were 4 years ago).
Obviously, as I mentioned above, the whole “light at the end of the tunnel” theory doesn’t necessarily apply to huge, life-altering events — and I’m certainly not trying to trivialize those events at all.
I just know that in my personal experience with various difficulties, stressful situations, and trying times, it is exponentially easier for me to push on when I take a moment to step back, think about the big picture, and look for even the smallest fleck of light shining through the end of the long dark tunnel.
Would you agree?
Oh, and for the record, it’s not that easy to do when I’m in the middle of a difficult situation — but I am getting better as I get older 🙂