Saturday, September 27, 2014

Before and After

Thinking back, I see my life divided into segments, each punctuated by events which shift the course of my life forever. Segments where life changes, where I'm never quite the same Before and After.

A new chronic illness diagnosis. A new job that marks a step up in my career path. The unexpected loss of a best friend. Finishing a master's degree fraught with challenges. Being caught in the midst of a province-wide political struggle.

A series of five events have occured this year in swift succession, with virtually no time for life to return to normal before the next hit. Not all of them bad, but all of them stressful and life-altering in their own way. One of these events alone would be enough to make this year stand out in my mind. Combined, they have each in turn deeply affected aspects of my personal, professional, and social life.

Only two months have passed, and I already find myself looking back at July wondering how I made it—and not only made it, but moved forward despite the challenges. That month has been added to the handful of periods in my life where I had to push through extreme adversity if I had any hope of accomplishing some long-term goals and where, looking back, I honestly don't know where I found the strength to do so.

This year will join the scattered handful of years that divide my life into segments separated by Before and After.

For the past few months I've felt off-kilter and off-balance, as if things were never quite right, because they never quite were. I've been patiently waiting for normalcy to return, knowing that if I waited long enough it eventually would.

Yet, even in the midst of these experiences, I don't think of this as a bad year. In reflecting—and I've been doing a lot of that lately—I've remembered that it's during these times of tormoil, whether positive challenges or negative chaos, that I've experienced the most growth. I would not be who I am today if not for these types of changes that I expereicned in the past and that I'm positive to experience again in the future.

It's these events that push me or challenge me or make me rethink everything that has happened in my life so far. Or that make me realize that i am way, way stronger than I sometimes feel.

Over the past week or so I've finally started to feel more normal. I've started to find the beginnings of some stable footing so that I have something to stand on as I move forward. Hopefully, I won't find this stable surface crumbling under my feet again any time soon.

But if I do, I only have to think back to these Before and After events that have altered my life in the past ... and that I've come through changed but unscathed. Each time I am faced by adversity and survive, and even thrive despite it, I get stronger. I reflect on what I've been through, and I'm better able to handle the next thing to be thrown my way. If I can handle that—if I can handle five of them at once!—then I think I can handle anything.