I was casually scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across this tidbit on Lifehack. I’ve been through a lot lately. Things have changed, and I have changed. But I’m a big believer that everything that happens in your life gives you a choice. You can choose to learn from it, choose to grow from it, or choose to dwell on it (to name a few). Everything in my life is a result of choices that I’ve made at every step.
I’m going to compare it to the eggs in my ovaries (since I have such a problem with those). When a woman is born, she has all the eggs she’ll ever have. As she ages, she has fewer and fewer eggs. When you are born, you have a near-infinite number of choices. Every time you make one, you become more specialized and close the door on other conflicting choices. As time goes on and you make choices, your path narrows. Eventually, by trial and error, people become who they want to be. Usually it’s by testing out different ideas until one feels right. But at every step, you are the only one who can make your choices. You have to choose happiness or sadness, sedentary or active, successful or not. None of those things will or can be given to you. That lovely piece of information is courtesy of my latest therapist, and she is very right.
I’m proud of the person I’ve become. Only a few years ago I allowed myself to be pushed around by friends or acquaintances. My stance was that I would only defend myself or my position if it was REALLY worth it. The problem was that unless my life was in danger, I didn’t think it was worth it. Over time, I’ve learned to be more assertive and to demand to be treated the way I want to be treated. I learned that from taking on a management position, a head coaching job in hockey, marriage. While I still sit passively watching minor conflicts happen, when something affects me I stand up for myself. It’s harder, because I have to ruffle some feathers. But at the end of the day if I stand up for what I believe I’m not crying at home because I let someone walk all over me. Taking back the power like that has helped me become a better person. It will help me be a better parent, wife and co-worker.
Some of the things that have been going on in my life lately have been tough for me to deal with. Not one to shy away from a solution, I found a therapist who could relate to what I was going through. This woman is amazing! She is blunt, but that’s what I need. The most powerful thing she told me (so far) is that it’s not my obligation to fix other people. In fact, she told me, I cannot fix anyone but myself. So with that in mind, I better make sure I’m taking care of myself and doing what I need to feel strong, healthy and successful.
Every person has to make their own choices and find their own happiness. Every day they can choose their outlook on life. Some days are bad, but if every day is bad that is a choice. Regardless of mental illness or substance abuse or traumatic situation or stressful events, happiness is a choice. Nothing I say can make someone else happy or make them change, only they can control that. She confirmed what I already knew and that has been a huge weight off my shoulders.
With that in mind, I have been taking a look back at the last 5 years of my life. There was a full year in there where I chose to be sad, and chose to let infertility make me a person I wasn’t proud of. It was understandable, and I don’t fault myself for it. The stress and hopelessness were overwhelming. I chose not to stay there because I realized that crying every day about not having a baby wasn’t getting me pregnant, it was just ruining my life. I realized that hating every pregnant person or person with kids wasn’t a great way to live.
What is different? Nothing really. I still hate infertility. I hate my body for failing. I still cry and get angry and frustrated. It even happens pretty often. But there are a lot of good things in my life. I have a very successful career that I love. I get to speak to topics that really interest me. I have a strong relationship with my husband. I have great dogs, and 2 cats that keep life interesting. I have a beautiful home, no car payments, and am able to go on periodic vacations. I also work a ton of overtime, regularly staying up until 3am. I need to lose weight, which I blame on a number of factors, but really comes down to willpower and laziness. I’m burned out often. So what is different? I choose which parts I use to define myself. I can feel sad, but I don’t have to be defined by sad. I compartmentalize everything into appropriate categories. I make time to deal with each of them, even the unpleasant ones. I let myself feel sad, hurt, angry, frustrated and hopeless. But then I choose to be happy.
I have this friend at work who my husband calls my girlfriend. He teases me about how much we share (did I really need to tell her about last night or ask her exactly how much money she thinks I need to spend on Christmas presents?) and he makes fun of us for having a favourite barista who knows us by name and drink. But he is happy that I have someone I trust, someone who would bury a body for me, if the time ever came. – CSIS if you’re reading this, I’m just joking. This might not really seem relevant to my post, but this friend not only lets me be myself, but puts me in my place if I go too far down the self pity road. She even tells me when I’m being too hard on my husband. Her and I see things differently there!
Surrounding myself with people who love me for who I am has been a key part to my happiness. No one expects me to change out of my sweatpants or smile if I’m sad. They understand if squishy-cuddles aren’t really my thing that day. Although many days, they are! They know I love getting art work from Evelyn, even if her mermaids look a little like… (you be the judge below). I’m not always perfect, nor are the people around me. There is just an expectation that over time, everyone contributes in a positive manner to the relationship. We’re human. People get jealous or angry or anxious or frustrated. But I realize that however I’m feeling, those are my feelings, not the feelings of the people around me.
I only get one shot at life. I don’t want to look back in 50 years and think “I sure wish I had chosen happiness” as I sit alone. When something bad happens I no longer sit there and let myself be a victim. I absorb it and say “now what do I need to do to make this situation better?” Nothing will ever change if you don’t try to find a solution. Just like how objects don’t stop without opposite momentum, things don’t change without intentional input. My input is reflecting on the good things in my life, not the things that are still missing. It seems to be working well for me.
Every day is a chance to change your life.
If you don’t like who you are today, change it tomorrow. If you don’t like how to feel today, make tomorrow different. You have to choose happiness, you have to make your own breaks. Figuring that out for myself has been the hardest and most rewarding part of turning into the person I am today.