sometimes when i get really stressed out, i find myself fantasizing about other people’s lives. i pick a random person out of a crowd or someone that i briefly made eye contact with in a convenience store and start to write their life story in my head. it could be a fifty-something-year-old man in dusty boots and a light blue work shirt. someone that i normally wouldn’t identify with. i imagine he works hard during the day, using his hands to create or repair. maybe he leads a crew of men. his job is laborious, but he finds it enjoyable and fulfilling. i imagine he’s been married a long time with a couple of adult children. maybe he even has beautiful, fresh-faced grandchildren that he bounces on his knee with his weathered, calloused hands. his laugh lines stretch across his face as he smiles and sings to them. i bet they adore him.
seriously y’all, i imagine this stuff in minute detail. ridiculous, right? and admittedly, kind of bizarre.
the psychologist in me (remember? the one who actually has a business degree) knows this has got to be some sort of coping mechanism. getting a little lost in someone else’s story keeps me from having to think about my own. it’s an escape. i think the same goes for television. no matter how busy B and i find ourselves, we just can’t seem to give up our favorite shows. there’s something therapeutic about sitting down for an hour and getting lost in someone else’s story, especially if that story involves any sort of espionage. (our fave!)
but what’s even more ridiculous than the fact that i actually do this bizarre thing, is the fact that i always envision stranger’s lives to be easier than mine. in my imagination, that man’s life is simple and unaffected by the many complications of life. laughable, i know.
every now and then i’m forced to come to terms with exactly how laughable this really is when confronted with the reality of someone else’s story. you see, i’ve been feeling pretty sorry for us ever since the great flood. it threw our lives into upheaval and we’re just muddling through. as i checked us into an extended stay hotel 13 days ago, i overheard the lady checking in next to me chatting with the desk clerk. they had obvious rapport due to previous stays there. she happily exclaimed that they were here for her husband’s last treatment.
wow. now that’s real life. and totally not the story i usually write for people in my head.
that encounter gave me the perspective i desperately needed in that very moment. it reminded me of that saying…something about, “be nice. you never know what kind of battles other people are fighting.” everyone is fighting some sort of battle. most people are fighting them very privately. i will no longer let myself be deceived by the assumption that someone else has discovered the kind of simplicity that my life seems to be lacking. which reminds me of another saying by Theodore Roosevelt, “comparison is the thief of joy.” well said, Teddy. no truer words have ever been spoken.
so where does all of this leave me? i have a two-part answer:
1. i think it’s important (and a little bit scary) for me to acknowledge
out loud in print that this is hard. moving across the state, the first year of medical school, looking for a new job, starting a new job…i mean, no one said it would be easy (ha!) but right now it’s all feeling especially haaaaaard. i would venture to say that B and i have developed a pretty high stress threshold over the years, but we definitely tend to teeter on the edge of that threshold. one of the dangers of living on the edge is that it doesn’t allow much room for unforeseen crises. i’m blaming the great flood for being the one thing to finally push me over the edge. but being able to acknowledge the fact that this is hard (without allowing myself to feel weak or inadequate…that’s the big part) somehow makes me feel a little bit better.
*aside- i also use this analogy when i have to explain why we don’t have children. it goes a little like this… “you see, there’s this stress threshold and i’m kind of already teetering on the edge…” this is a truthful (in my case) and polite way to answer the question and every now and then it even garners a little bit of sympathy and a pat on the back because i’m obviously already overwhelmed enough. and tada! i haven’t even trademarked that one yet, so you can use it for free if you need it. you’re welcome.
2. this is the part where i suck it up, buttercup. we are not living in an extended stay hotel in the Texas Medical Center because someone has cancer. we get to go home (to a mostly renovated condo) in 8-10 days. we are healthy. we are blessed beyond measure. when life becomes a grind, B and i like to fist bump (because we’re nerds) and remind each other to just “grind it out.” meaning, don’t fight the process. keep your head down, stay focused, and just push through it. because each of us knows that the other one is tough enough to do just that. this is, however, the first time since we started this med school journey that i’m wishing the time away. i promised myself i would never do that, but with 3 weeks of finals bearing down on B and the thought of moving/cleaning/unpacking everything in our condo…ugh. so there. i said it. i am wishing this month away. you hear me, May? you kinda suck. either way though…we gonna grind it out.
due to the downer nature of this forever long post, i’m guessing that right about now you might be asking yourself…
“has the happy redhead lost her happy?”
the answer is no. for the most part, i still wake up happy everyday and go to bed happy everyday. everything in between is taking a little more effort as of late, but if you’ve ever read my about page, then you already know that’s the whole premise of this blog, right? happiness doesn’t always come easy. it’s up to me to create my own happiness. the word create is a verb. an action word. it takes work. effort. that just means i need to work a little harder on my happy right now. and happiness is definitely something worth working for.
because this post needs a pic. this is hotel livin’, y’all. glamorous.