Today, while trying to work out yet another budget, I became overwhelmed by the expenses of everyday student life and had a silent, but deadly meltdown. I had just finished having a stressful conversation, although it was really more of a rant, with my parents about all the money I owed to my school and I listed off my concerns:
1. I had to pay back a few thousand in just a few months in order to enroll next year.
2. If it wasn’t paid in full, I would miss the courses that would allow me to go into the second half of my university career at another campus.
3. I had a trip coming up that I needed to save for.
4. I still had bills to pay in the meantime.
And on and on and on.
As the echo of the conversation became unbearable, I took a break and went surfing through my phone. I came across a photo with four squares, each containing quotes about why worrying is useless. One box said “Everything is only just inside your head. Stop worrying.” I gave myself a few minutes to let those words sink in.
While I sat back on my bed, holding back the kind of tears that come from feeling entirely helpless, I got a text message from my Dad. The text said:
“Remember Steph, I love you and we will work this out. Ok? Love, dad.”
My eyes welled with tears and began to stream down my cheek. I’ve cried thousands of times throughout my lifetime, but this time, the tears felt so different. They weren’t the tears that come from feeling sad. Or the kind that come when you’re angry. They weren’t even the tears that fall from feeling happy.
They were the kind of tears that come from having no hope in one instance, and more hope than you know what to do with in the next.
When I got that text message, I felt relieved. Something about the question mark after the “ok” made me feel like he was almost reminding me that this was no big deal. It was just a part of life that everyone goes through, but a part of life that cannot be faced, dealt with, and overcome without some sort of strength, and much lessworry.
Ultimately, life doesn’t “just flow” for everyone. In fact, life doesn’t “just flow” for anyone. It is people that make life go smoothly. It is the decisions that they make, the words that they speak, and whether they take it all in stride.
It was really a case of:
“Whether you think you can or you can’t-you’re right.”
I looked at all the numbers and felt defeated, so my thoughts, actions, and words followed suit, and if there hadn’t been the intervention of that picture, paired with the text message from my Dad and my memory of Henry Ford’s quote, I truly believe I really would have been defeated and consumed by this debt, or rather, the illusion of it.
When I got back to budgeting, I broke it down monthly, then weekly. I did all the calculations I could that allowed me to live comfortably and productively. In the end, I saw that only a few minor cutbacks were needed, I would still get to go on and enjoy my trip, and by the time September came around I would be in great shape.
Henry Ford must have found himself in my exact situation, or at least one like it, when he spoke those words of wisdom and genius. Although I highly doubt that in his time, he was juggling a Rogers bill and a student loan, unless of course they had those in the early 1900s. But the fact that even one hundred years ago, these words rang true, is a testament to the power of your own thought.
That picture with four quotes about the uselessness of worrying, reminding me that “worry is a misuse of imagination” made me feel like maybe I hadn’t been imaginative enough. I should have been using my imagination to construct the scene of victory, rather than a war-torn path to bankruptcy. Instead, I clouded my own thoughts, my own imagination, with pessimism, ew!
If I were optimistic in this instance, I would’ve seen that I had the tools to help me get through this rut:
1. I got a new job that pays twice what my last job did.
2. I recently created the Gail Vaz-Oxlade budget (which I will be blogging about this sometime this week).
3. I was living rent-free.
4. I had a vacation to look forward to.
And on and on and on.
If you ever find yourself feeling defeated, which might be anywhere from a few times daily, or a few times yearly, it is up to you to defeat the feeling of defeat. Find some sort of ritual; listen to a certain song, have a good cry, get lost in an amazing book, or have a very large class of your favorite alcoholic beverage. Do something that allows you to be a stronger person for the time it takes to overcome whatever situation you find yourself in.
More than having a go-to ritual though, we have to set ourselves up for victory; mentally, physically, and emotionally-which means preparing for breakdowns such as the one I had today. The truth is; most people set themselves up for failure too easily. When we hear people tell us that we can’t do it, we believe that we can’t do it. It might not get to us at first, but after we continue to hear it, we start to believe it.
Take that and flip it. If the more we hear something, the more we believe it, then everyday we should be telling ourselves that we are winners. Everyday we should tell ourselves that we can do it. And in the case we, for some reason, cannot find it within ourselves to say the words, we should have people there to tell us what we need to hear to keep us going.
In this case, it was my Dad. It was his short text message, the thirty seconds he took to type it, and the need in my heart to hear it, which in turn allowed me to believe that yes, we will work it out.
Because everything always works out.
Yet still, we worry. Still, we get upset. We get frustrated, and we get angry. But how far can a car make it with the engine light on, the oil light on, the gas light on, and the service light on? Every piece of worry, every piece of frustration, every piece of anger, is like a light on your dashboard that needs to be turned off in order for you to run better, perform smoothly, and most of all, arrive at your destination.
If you’re going to be in the car, you really ought to think about taking the driver’s seat.