Straight talk: life has given me lemons. I’m saying this after a great weekend spent with family, so it might seem unexpected, but as I sat down after it all, I felt this wave of emotions roll over me. And as I sit here writing this, I’m thinking to myself, “Lydia, don’t do this. Your family will read it and wonder what’s wrong with you — why can’t you just see the good in things and be happy about it?” The thing is, though, I’m an incredibly happy person. It’s incredibly rare to find me without a smile on my face. And it’s all genuine, too. This world has been pretty damn good to me. I love my friends and family. But damn, these lemons can really eat away at me at times.
What hit me today is that all of us are held to expectations. We’re expected to go to school, we’re expected to find jobs; each of us is held to something, whether it’s from your parents, your friends, society…it doesn’t matter. As somebody who lost a parent over two years ago, I’m think I’m expected to be okay. Nobody set a date or a time for me, but I’m pretty sure that people expect me to have formulated a positive viewpoint on life moving forward. And frankly, I have in a way. There are days when I’m okay, and I can tell myself that life goes on, and my dad would want me to be happy for him and live life to its fullest. But beneath that, there’s still a pit in my stomach when I think about the loss. My dad was my mentor, and the absence of that is something I haven’t quite been able to get over, even two+ years after the fact.
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I spent this incredible weekend with family, and I was surrounded by my dad’s brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, wife, daughters, and more. It was incredible. But after the fact, I sat down and recognized the missing piece that seemed to leave such a void for me. And it hurts. It isn’t much easier today than it was two years ago. And the ability to admit that to myself took a long time, because I thought I was supposed to be okay at this point. But frankly, I think I’m better off recognizing that it isn’t easy and time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, than I would be continuing to deny this realization.
The thing is, though, I’m not the type to just let this shit bother me without doing anything about it. Some people are able to bottle up emotions like this and carry on, but for me, I’m better off speaking about it (obviously, as I’m sitting here publishing my thoughts to the world wide web…) and finding a way to actively make myself better. So I found something to work toward today. And I’m here to share it, because something tells me that every single one of you reading this has something that you’re struggling with. It may not be the loss of a parent, and it may not even be anything like that. Maybe it’s a class you’re struggling with in school, or maybe you got in a fight with a friend. But there’s probably SOMETHING bothering you…I’m just being realistic. But though I do encourage time to reflect and recognize these feelings (read: thinking life is shitty, school sucks, work sucks, my parents are the worst, etc.), sitting around moping about them isn’t going to get me anywhere. I guess this is where that whole “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” idea came from.
I decided today that I’m going to make an effort to spend more time with family and more time running. I just finished a Half Marathon two weeks ago, which is something that I thought I was doing once to cross off the bucket list. My initial reaction when I crossed the finish line, in fact, was “oh shit…my legs feel like they’re going to fall off…there’s no chance in hell I will ever do one of these again.” But a couple days later, I was itching to do another. Crazy how things work, huh? Well, my cousins and I decided this weekend that we’re going to do a 5k Color Run. My dad, and his parents too, would want nothing more than all of us, as family, spending time together. So Color Run it is. Don’t know what that is? Watch this video:
“Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be You. Be a Color Runner.” That could sound like damn good marketing, but this video brings that to life for me. I’ve got this newfound admiration for running, and the idea of the Color Run just makes it seem so much more fun. Add family to that equation (and the fact that our chosen destination is Las Vegas), and it sounds like the true idea of happiness and fun. And though I’m not sure my dad ever ran a mile in his life, it sounds like something he would hear about and immediately want all of us to participate in. Family, fun, and working toward goals is pretty much everything my dad stood for.
The other part…the half marathon. Well, this one is a bit because I’m a crazy person and I want to beat my previous time, but it’s also because I found out that a race I’ve been wanting to run just happens to be in San Francisco (where I live) on my dad’s birthday. I think if you asked me what my dad would want me to be doing today, it’d be something that made me happy and that I worked hard to get to. He always believed in everything I wanted to do. After a college counselor told me it wasn’t worth my time to apply to Duke, he encouraged me to work my ass off and cross my fingers. Sure enough, I applied, it worked out, and it was the best decision I ever made. Running wasn’t ever really my thing, but if he were here today, he’d likely hear the fact that I presented a challenge to myself and respond with “well, Lyds, I wouldn’t ever do it, but I’ll bet you can do it if you put your mind to it!” So I’m doing just that. I’ll be running in his memory and hoping to make him proud.
Neither of these things fills the hole that I’ve been feeling for the past two years, and will likely continue to feel for the rest of my life. Life is still tough, and I’m still sitting here with a bit of that pit in my stomach. But taking proactive steps toward any sort of fulfillment in a situation like this is the best I can do. And it helps. Plus, it would make my dad proud, and I’m pretty sure it’ll make my family who can still read this proud.
Life gave me lemons, and I’m following the Gorilla Warfare Tactics method in response:
So bam. Take that, life.