Attitude Is Everything: How to Solve Your Own Damn Problems
Today was the worst day ever.
At least that’s what I told myself until I came home and saw my mother, wearing her pink breast cancer scarf wrapped around her head and remembered she was fighting cancer herself.
I had work at 7 a.m. this morning; and boy do I hate waking up early. While in the midst of pre-balancing my till, I found a $100.00 shortage that would inevitably become my expense. Nothing like giving back a day’s work on payday.
As soon as 3:30 came around, I closed off and headed to my car. Before I could even exit the parking lot, I had reversed into someone, tearing off a large chunk of their quarter panel.
We exchanged insurance and contact information. As he was writing down his phone number, I recognized that he was a customer from my store. I said to him,
“Look, is there any way I can take care of the cost of getting the quarter panel back in place? I’m 21 years old, my insurance premiums are ridiculous and having this on my record won’t help one bit.”
He looked at me and said, “Sure.” He then went on to tell me to give him a call sometime next month as he and I were both going on vacation and coming back around the same time.
It seemed like a pretty nice deal, yet still, just the mere thought of all the ridiculous events that had taken place throughout my day haunted my silent drive back home to the point of tears.
When I got into the driveway, I looked at my poor car’s bumper and saw the damage. I had absolutely no reaction, other than a look up at the sky, a loud sigh, and a slow walk to my front door. Between being so mentally and physically exhausted, and really just wanting to curl up in bed and forget this entire day, I wasn’t sure I even cared.
Then, there she was.
My mother was propped up on her seat, one of the only ones she could sit comfortably in for a long period of time without parts of her body going numb. The first thing she asked was what was wrong.
You know, certain moments hold so much irony and complexity that we fail to recognize the implications of instances like these. How ironic was it that she, the woman who really was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, was so concerned with my mere expression, that she could forget about what she was going through to offer me, some kid with a shitty attitude and your average problem some comfort?
To be quite honest, my mom offered me a lot more than just some comfort.
First, she offered me an ear to listen. Although as soon as I started speaking, my problems felt so small, and so insignificant that I felt stupid even opening my mouth.
Second, she offered me some perspective. Just by sitting in her chair, both arms covered in bandages and
pick lines in which her chemotherapy flowed through her veins in an attempt to rid her body of such a terrible, terrible disease.
But most of all, she offered me some understanding. The kind of understanding that really only arrives after letting an event sink in.
After arriving in my room and plopping down on my bed, the tears began to fall. Not for the $100.00 that I would have probably spent on food this week or for the new collection of scratches, dents, and chipped paint to the back of my car, but tears for the knowledge and understanding that prior to this moment, I really didn’t have. Sure I’m a smart girl, but to think my problems were reasonable grounds to declare this “the worst day of my life”?
I was disappointed in myself.
I should have seen this coming. Not in a crystal ball, not in some sort of premonition, but in the way I had been acting, speaking, and most of all, thinking about life lately.
I had spent the last week complaining about how tired I was of my job. How sick I was getting of having to work eight hours a day five times a week. Of course, with that attitude, work got even worse. The eight hours seemed more like ten, and the five days seemed more like seven.
In the midst of writing this post, I heard my mom struggling in the washroom. When I yelled out to ask her what was wrong, she told me that she hit her IV. I came outside to help her out in whatever way I could. So
I untied her pink scarf for her because she was getting hot. While untying it, she said to me,
“I’m sorry you had a bad day.”
If you’re unable to recognize the tragic irony of this moment then you are truly, truly blessed. But when I come to think of it, so am I.
To that, I said,
“Mom, coming home and seeing you, I don’t think my day was that bad. And if it was, it was sure worth it.”
I thoroughly believe that personal experiences are the best way for anyone, especially writers, artists, and the like, firstly to express themselves, and secondly, to relate to others.
If I want to change the world, which I do, and believe I am, very slowly, and maybe not so surely, then I have to reach out to you in the only way I know how. I have to tell you how stupid I am and have been in order for you to be smart.
In order to have any grain of real intellect, you have to pose, reflect on, and answer some pressing questions. Two questions I found myself really thinking about today were,
What do you use to measure your problems?
What do problems even mean?
The first question prompted responses such as this person, or that person, how close my life is to what I envision it being, and my happiness.
The second question prompted no answer at all, quite frankly. Not because problems mean nothing, but because I don’t believe that what I encountered today were problems. I believe I failed myself through generating negative results because I was generating a negative attitude, a negative outlook, and very negative thoughts.
I “suffered” today because I chose to suffer. I chose to be a victim of my own negativity.
Even on my mom’s weakest days, when she declares “I’m okay,” she is that much closer to her own recovery.
I implore you to please, take a look at your circumstances. Do not ignore the things you recognize are wrong, negative, or make you unhappy in your life. Rather, acknowledge them, try to find a solution, and if there isn’t one…
Let it be.
As I looked outside, trying to decide how to end off this extremely therapeutic release of emotion, and hopefully somewhat inspirational piece for my audience, I noticed the clouds darkening and remembered my car windows were down.
I went outside and just as I rolled them up, the rain began to fall very slowly. I was just about to run back inside when I remembered a very cheesy and cliché quote that goes like this:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”
Despite my hatred for all things cliché and widely-used, I couldn’t help but do a little dance on my way back inside the house. Maybe it was because my attitude changed. Maybe it was because I had rediscovered my happiness. Hell, maybe it was because I had feet.
The minute I did a little dance, I started thinking about the twelve-day trip to the Caribbean I had coming up in exactly one week. I thought about the fact that despite initially thinking I would miss an entire paycheck, I would only be missing out on a few shifts. I thought about how much cheaper it would be to fix Mr. De Almeida’s quarter panel since he agreed to not go through insurance. And suddenly, things weren’t so bad.
I wrote about my experience today so that someone, anyone, can see that the only thing more important than being strong is being positive. It sounds ludicrous, but today, after witnessing firsthand what attitude can or cannot do for you, I have no other choice but to believe that in some way, I was responsible for all the unfortunate events that happened. Conversely, I can assume at least some responsibility when things go well for me. And believe me, I do.
And I deserve that don’t I?
Well so do you.
So if you find that you’ve been down and out lately, with money, with friends, with anything, quite frankly, don’t try and change the situation…
Try and change yourself.