Sixty-two months have passed.
And I still find myself learning from the struggle of that time.
On the first day of school this quarter, I got on the bus and sat there scrolling through Instagram when a thought pinged me, “Did I turn the stove top off?” Panic and paranoia set it, and I found myself crumbling at that crippling thought all day long.
Another day, I was in an important class and I got a missed called from my real estate agent on my lease. My real estate agent never calls. Panic set in, again.
In recent years, I haven’t really thought about this topic consciously much – but now that I live alone for the first time (which I do really enjoy), this hardship of my past time has resurfaced vividly. However, I’ve used the hardship to make some forward-thinking strides to grow with time in a beautiful, healthy way. This mind frame can be applied to reframe our thoughts on hardship.
What I used to think of as a forever hardship
Sixty-two months ago, life was charred.
My separated parents picked up my little sister and I from high school – together. They told us that my mom’s house (where I was primarily living) is destroyed, and that we were going to drive there to say goodbye now. Shockingly blunt.
We lost everything to the force of fire.
All that I had found safety in was gone – and my sense of home was shattered. Structurally our house was still intact, on the outside it looked okay to any passerby. Just like me.
On the inside though, everything was deeply damaged or left black with soot. Just like me.
I went to school the next week, and everyday after, structurally intact. But inside, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the loss. Reliving all that I had owned: clothes, videogames, books, schoolwork, childhood photos, artwork… Anything to my name but myself and the clothes I had on me that day. Worst of all, the smoke engulfed my two dogs, two lizards and cat. That was by far the hardest part to wrestle with, which I can’t even go into detail on frankly.
From this: My separated family was now under a single, uncomfortable household again. Depression plagued our ‘home.’ SAT’s and grades were ever important during my junior year, and I just couldn’t get it together. This was a difficult time in life where the pain from that hardship was deeply impacting my state of being.
When I chose to forget it in an attempt to heal
After a year, I buried these thoughts. We rebuilt, and grew anew. Just as plant life resurfaces from forrest fires and crop burnings . According to the University of Reno, Nevada:
“Plants vary in their response to fire. Fire readily kills some plants, rejuvenates others, and some may even require fire to exist”
I only saw death at first – not rejuvenation or strength. I chose to forget it as much as I could.
At this time, I was coping through what I see as the relive & heal model. I think it’s natural that many of us respond this way. Hardship leave us with a pain point, a span of time that I see as the negative impact phase. We replay and relive the hardship in our mind for weeks, months and even years on end. This impact stifles growth and can even lead to ongoing detriment.
The hardship of the fire was at central focus, the pain point had dragged on for a year, and forgetting was my way of healing.
Reframing your mind in pursuit of growth
Unexpectedly, living alone this year has left me a tremendous amount of responsibility in terms of safety. I leave home everyday knowing that I am solely responsible. No one else is going to come home and check on things. No one else has a key. It’s just me.
Paranoia started to overwhelm me. I found myself semi-regularly freaking out about the state of my home while I was out of the house. More and more things were triggering me.
In serious times of distress, I reflect a lot.
I took positive steps towards easing my mind. I ordered more smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, left someone I trust with my key, and put a post-it note by my door to double check everything heat-related before I leave the house.
Good action was made, but it’s important to further reflect on how that hardship impacts you personally today. After taking some serious time to document my evolution, I’ve made some pretty incredible insights on how I’ve grown beautifully over time from this instance in my life. I think this idea can consciously be applied to a plethora of situations.
The beauty I see in it all now
Home used to be a place to harbor my beloved possessions, and to live with my family. But I sat down recently and asked myself, what is my definition of home now?
Home is an environment to reboot at your core, and to share intimate moments with the ones you trust and love.
I had a breakthrough moment here. Over the last year, I’ve grown an affinity for minimalism. It hit me (like a smack to the face) that this development circles back to that hardship in my life sixty-two months ago. My mind was subconsciously reflecting over time, truly growing from the char all along. And I didn’t even realize it.
I started adapting my lifestyle and mindset to minimalism for one primary reason: So I could spend more time doing what I love with the people I love.
Minimalism, as a lifestyle, is the art of letting go.
— The Minimalists (@TheMinimalists) March 1, 2017
Losing the ‘things’ hurt so badly back then. Especially the loss of life with my pets. But I still had my family, my memories, my passions. Minimalism is my evolution to safeguard myself from the attachment of losing things. ‘Things’ are becoming functional for me now, with less and less attachment as time goes by.
And you know what? I love that.
It’s a core tenet of my life now that helps me focus on what’s truly important to me.
The ‘learn & grow‘ model helps me channel this hardship in a forward-thinking, constructive way. I was able to grow beautifully with time by minimizing the hardship from my focal point and turning my attention to reflection. Instead of the impact phase being the pain point, this model champions growth as the impact phase. Although hardship initiated it all, I see how much more of my circle is comprised of positivity and personal development now.
True reflection can lead to further growth in your life
I can assure you that you are already growing so much more than you realize. But I’d like to ask you to take some time to yourself and think about a past hardship in your life.
Give thought on how you felt about the situation in that moment of time. Then contrast your thoughts on how you feel about it now. Don’t just recall the memory of the pain and healing you went through then… hone in on how the hardship lead to reflection and personal growth over time.
Perspective. It’s changed you, hasn’t it?
We’re all growing with time, beautifully. Sometimes it seems obvious, but I believe that most of the time it’s happening right underneath our nose. However, we can consciously choose to reflect more often in an effort to stimulate growth.
We all have the power to be plants rejuvenated by our personal fires.
I would love to know your thoughts on this in the comment box below. Be sure to subscribe at the bottom of the page for my forward-thinking discussion next week on embracing our sexuality.