Recently, I have found myself coping with some darker days. Life is not always optimistic and at times, you can really feel like it is not on your side. I shared these days in a similar place to a friend of mine. We both dealt with a feelings of loss, grief, anger, and guilt.
I settled upon the idea that I would write a post for him. Easier said than done when what you are feeling is the same difficulty you want to write in spite of. I wrote this friend an email, and the contents of this email are what I will share with you all. No picture, no cutesy doodle. Just words.
I guess what we all need to realize is that a colorful life is what we should wish for, and without any one color, light, dark, or otherwise, our days, our experiences, our lives would not be as alive and complete.
Letter for a Friend: A Colorful Life
I am incredibly sorry you are dealing with this sense of loss. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. Knowing that you love someone and that the entire situation has changed can be very difficult to deal with.
I appreciate your kind words and your compliments towards my sense of honesty and self-awareness. It has taken a lot of practice and, unfortunately, I must deal with the waves of grief, guilt, and anger (with varying levels of intensity). At the time of my loss, I had no way of processing what was happening, and how my life would be forever changed. I can promise you (while still accepting and thanking you for your kindness) that I continue to truly struggle with painting a similar picture of meaning, compassion, health, and healing. The hues of my picture can be found in a darker palette, and at times, the canvas all together is thrown out with overbearing sadness. Still, there are moments where I remind myself that each day is its own clean slate. The world is not black and white, and while we spend our lives working through the gray, inside and outside of our heads, our world is meant to be lived in FULL color. Every color imaginable works its way in– the darks that paint our days with sadness one day merely fill in the shadows of another. The lightest shades of a new morning can fill our worlds so completely that our eyes struggle to find darkness at all.
I encourage us both to take the darks, lights, and everything in between as part of this “artistic” process. We experience life as playful artists, and when we test our boundaries, our emotions, and ourselves, we can create some truly breath-taking moments with every emotional hue we possess.
I wish you the same vibrancy in your days as I do my own.
Love and Light,
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
— Ann Landers
I’ve noticed recently that I can be stubborn.
(Anyone who knows me understands that this is both a blessing and a curse and in no way a “new” realization, but purely a statement of fact.)
When carrying something heavy (physically, emotionally, etc), it is impossible to realize just how much strain is being placed upon me. It’s only after I set it down for a break or finally make it to my destination that I feel the toll it’s taken. It’s only after some time that I regain feeling, where my blood starts pumping again, filling me up, reminding me that those parts that fought through the pain are still there, still working, ready for the next task.
In those moments, rather than strain and fight through the unnecessary pain, I could just as easily ask for help or allow myself to be helped by those around me. It would be the best thing to do, right? Then why do I insist on doing it all by myself? Why won’t I just let it go?
Why do any of us when faced with something that burdens us, that weighs us down, that hurts us, resist the urge to simply let it go?
We’ve all got something of which we are afraid to let go.
We struggle to decide if, in that moment, letting it be is better than letting it go.
Open your hands, your head, and your heart to something that will better serve you. That will bring you closer to where you really want to be and what you really want to feel. If it helps and if you can, let others ease the burden, lift the weight, and support you in the process.
Remind yourself that if you have the strength to “hang on” and “hang in” that you also possess the immense and incomparable strength that is regained when you loosen your grip.
“Whenever they say it can’t be done, remind them that they make a jellybean that tastes exactly like popcorn.”
When you read about successful people, you’ll likely read about many devastating failures leading up to and intermixed with their wild successes. And when you meet successful people, you start to learn that the reason they were successful in the first place is because they have a lot of practice failing and have matured and learn from their failures. If you want to learn to be successful, you’ve got to put yourself out there and take chances. You’ve go to apply for jobs you might not ever get and audition for parts you might not fit the role for exactly. You’ll be disappointed and frustrated and angry, but keep pushing. Then, you will find yourself with great responsibilities, great successes, and a heaping sense of fulfillment.
-Eli Young Band, Even if it Breaks Your Heart
A pot hole here. A new bypass there. Thick fog. Ice. Congestion. Rubbernecking. The road to success is often traveled but often abandoned and detoured. Maps of it are certainly crude, as the road is a unique route for each sojourner that embarks upon it, and the ease of passage depends upon many factors, from foes to fates. Don’t be discouraged when you find yourself doubled back to where you’ve already been, delayed by a family rest stop, or sitting in traffic behind other passengers on the route. Reset the odometer. Proceed confidently in the direction of your dreams. Don’t forget to take in the views. Most importantly, enjoy the ride.
One of my best friends sent me a text that read “Rejection emails suck.” She had just gotten the news that, despite a wonderful interview, she was not going to get the summer internship she hoped for. She’s right, rejection letters really suck.
“I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection” –Billy Joel
Recently, I viewed the movie Admission, starring Tina Fey who plays a Princeton Admission Officer. This movie struck a chord with me, because when I was applying for undergraduate studies, Princeton was the only school (of 8) to send me a thin envelope. I knew the rejection letter was coming, because like the movie, the guy who interviewed me was a jerk. The rejection letter wasn’t a surprise, but it did ruin my day.
“I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going rather than retreat.” –Sylvester Stallone
When I applied to graduate school, I got a second rejection letter form Princeton (and several other schools). Every time I got one of those letters it ruined my whole day. I knew that most of the programs were a long shot, but it’s hard not to feel slighted when you know you’re a good candidate.
“You get used to rejection, and you don’t take it personally.” –Daniel Craig
I got another rejection letter today. By now I’ve gotten a lot of them, and it still sucks. Somehow it doesn’t ruin my whole day anymore. I’ve learned that things tend to work out in the end. I might not end up where I hoped to or expected to, but it’s usually for a good reason. Plus, when I get a thick envelope, or a detailed email with an offer instead of a “click here for your admission decision” email, all of the joy and anticipation erases the rest.
“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” — Bo Bennett
Our parents had the right intentions when they told us to chase our dreams. Their biggest fault might be not pushing us to fail more often. Learning to embrace rejection and failure as a necessary step in the pursuit of success is a hard lesson to learn and one that takes practice, but by many accounts these are the most valuable life experiences.