When you need to let yourself smile

Ever since his Spartan cheerleader days, I’ve loved Will Ferrell, but I didn’t realize how much I would come to admire one of the qualities of one of his most childlike characters.

I’m obviously talking about Buddy the Elf’s passion for smiling.

We’re taught at early ages how to smile. I mean, when you’re a little baby, people are constantly smiling at you, and somewhere along the way, you instinctively start smiling back. Then people stick cameras in your face and use that “say cheese” thing, and the smiles just keep coming. Smiles are outward expressions of joy, and they are truly beautiful.

But sometimes those smiles don’t always come so easily.

I’m not a huge fan of crying, and it’s normally not something I do often—though lately I feel like the tears have been a bit too frequent. For many reasons I won’t delve into at this time, life has been tough lately, and sometimes I have moments when I can’t fight back the tears that start piling up at the brims of my eyes.

Smiling is often the best option.

I had one of those instances recently at work, and I really didn’t want to cry at my desk. My sweet friend Bonnie had texted me to check on me (she knew I was having a bad day), and I told her I was on the verge of tears. She offered to meet me in a bathroom where we wouldn’t see any of our coworkers, and she stood there with me while I let Niagara Falls invade my face, and she listened as I aired my grievances—and God bless her, because I say some pretty ridiculous things when I’m crying.

After a little while, I looked at myself in the mirror and told her I couldn’t go back to work looking like I did. (When I cry, my eyes turn a super deep almost emerald blue color, and my face is SO splotchy.) And then she told me I needed to smile—whether I wanted to look in the mirror and smile or go stand in a bathroom stall and stare at the door, I simply needed to smile for about a minute. She said doing so would make the rest of me start to believe I wasn’t so sad, and I wouldn’t look like I’d been crying as much.

Have you ever tried looking at yourself in the mirror and forcing yourself to smile when it’s the last thing you want to do? It’s so awkward. Thankfully, Bonnie said something to make me laugh, and so the smile actually became real. And she was right, too—I went back to my desk without anyone noticing that I had just ugly cried moments before.

A couple of days later, I was in spin class, and the instructor kept reminding us to smile and that it would help us remember that what we were doing was actually fun. Most of the time when I’m in this type of class, I’m just trying to figure out the whole beat thing. It’s one of those classes in which you ride to the beat of the music, which is not my forte—I’m used to dancing freestyle with zero concern of beat or rhythm. But, I must say, that smiling tactic of his really helped. It turned out to be the most fun class I’ve ever taken.

I suppose I needed one more reminder about the importance of smiling. Joni Eareckson Tada was a guest speaker at church over the weekend, and she mentioned how she makes herself smile every morning before facing the day to help set the right attitude from the start.

I guess smiling is a lot more effective than we think it is.

For years now, I’ve tried to incorporate smiling into my running. I always try to remind myself of my mantra of “one smile per mile,” which truly helps me enjoy running even when it hurts. I do this especially in races, and it really does give me more of a positive perspective about even the most grueling miles. Sure, I probably look like a complete idiot when I’m smiling to no one, but I also get to smile to people in passing, which makes me even happier. Smiling isn’t just good for us—a simple smile truly can lift someone’s spirits more than we’ll ever know.

I realize that smiling can’t get rid of our pain, and it doesn’t make all of our problems go away, but sometimes it somehow helps. Maybe it sends some secret message from our heads to our hearts that says, “Hey, true joy is possible, and don’t you ever forget it.” Life is often difficult, and it’s going to throw stuff our way that we really don’t want, and probably the last thing we will want to do is smile. But when you find those moments when you can choose to put a smile on your face—even if only for a second or two—it really might help. It won’t solve everything, but it can force you to wipe the tears off of your face and march back up to your desk to take on everything else that comes your way that day.

We get to decide how we react to the situations we face. Sure, we’re going to encounter hurts and frustrations and sorrow and anger and stress and pain and regret and bitterness and a countless amount of other negative emotions—but we can’t stay wrapped up in those forever. Eventually, we have to walk away from those with courage that we never knew we had.

And sometimes bravery comes in the form of a smile.

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Encouragement from an Uber driver

Every once in a while, you need a stranger to tell you something to make you really believe it.

And sometimes that stranger is your Uber driver.

I recently met someone for dinner and was ready to leave almost immediately after we sat down. Sure, he is a really nice guy, and I can pretty much talk to a wall if I have to, but I simply didn’t want to be there. My mind was elsewhere, and I wanted to go home.

And of course I had to be the one to say, “I probably should get home soon.”

He asked me if I was sure that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. Yes, I was sure. I had taken an Uber there simply because I didn’t want to deal with the parking in the area, and he suggested that I ride in his Uber and that we could just drop me off first. I suggested “no.”

Thankfully, my Uber driver was practically there, so I didn’t have to wait long before hopping in the car and escaping that evening. That’s when I met Josh, a sage I wasn’t expecting. He asked me how I was doing, and I said I was sort of alright. Then he asked me why.

Josh, you just opened a can of worms, buddy.

I gave him a condensed version of my evening, followed by a very abridged explanation as to why my heart hurts and why I think it shouldn’t anymore. Then I asked him questions, and he told me how he met his girlfriend (whom he’s been dating for almost three years) and how special she is to him. And he told me that there’s a guy out there who thinks the same of me but doesn’t know it yet and that, when I meet him, I’ll know he’s the one.

And even though I had only known Josh for about four minutes, I believed him.

Right before I got out of the car, he turned around to shake my hand and told me it had been a pleasure chatting with me. Then he said, “Just keep the faith, Natalie. That’s the most important thing—you have to have faith.”

That’s a good word, bro.

And sometimes you hang solo.

I don’t know what the future holds. I know that I’m going through some tough stuff that I feel like I should be over by now, and I don’t understand why it still hurts, but it does. Honestly, I sometimes feel ridiculous that my heart doesn’t feel mended, but I can’t seem to change that right now. I have to believe that Josh is right, though: I need to have faith.

Faith that someday it won’t hurt anymore. Faith that things will happen as they should. Faith that I will be fine flying solo forever if that’s how things turn out. Faith that there’s really only One I need, anyway.

Sure, it’s difficult to be single sometimes, but I think I also need to remember how great it can be, too. I mean, there’s a lot of independence gained and a lot of times when you have to learn to be brave in situations when you really want someone there to hold your hand. And I get to choose what to eat for dinner every night and what will be watched on the TV, so that’s a plus.

Life often happens in ways we don’t want, but we still have to face those situations and choose how we respond. I hope I can take Josh’s words to heart and always respond by keeping the faith. Faith gives us hope, and faith is also a huge part of what love is all about.

I hope you’re able to meet someone who gives you hope, or I hope you’re that person who offers it to someone else. It’s nice when we can lift one another up and provide encouragement when it’s needed most.

Because that’s a love that can be shared with everyone.

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When you feel like you’re missing out

I think there are too many times we ask “Why?” in situations when we really should be asking “Why not?”

Especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

Last year, on a whim (and because I had experienced a pretty heartbreaking moment the night before), I bought a 10-game pack of season tickets to the Rangers games with my friend Amanda. Despite the financial setback, it actually turned out to be one of my best decisions of 2016. Our friend Val was part of our game-going crew, too, and we had a blast going to each game. Amanda and I even created a paper chain at work to countdown until Opening Day, and we took daily pictures of us ripping off the links and throwing them to the ground.

Bless those of you who endured that time with us and then celebrated when we finally reached the ballpark on the day for which we’d been waiting for so long.

It was worth it, too. Opening Day that year was one I will always remember for so many reasons, and I must say that I was pretty sad this year when it rolled around, and we weren’t there. I also felt like it snuck up on us—when we had the countdown, it felt like it took forever to get there.

It was a rather dramatic countdown.

I guess that’s how life goes sometimes: You wait and wait and wait for something for so long that it feels like it’s never actually going to happen. But then if you’re not really anticipating it very much, it’s as if it gets there as fast as lightning.

Even though there were times the season seemed ridiculously long, the drive seemed way too far, the nights seemed to last forever (especially the games on work nights), and the heat felt more powerful than ever, I miss being in Section 3. I miss convincing the players in the opposing team’s bullpen to throw gum up to me. I miss seeing Mark and Jeannie, who sat behind us each game. I miss persuading the parking attendants to let us park for free. I miss Dylan the pedicab guy always trying to get us to be lazy and not walk. I miss the grouchy guy who plays the saxophone at the street corner.

And part of me just feels like I’m missing out on so much.

Honestly, it’s probably for the best that we didn’t buy the season tickets this year. Val lives in a different part of the state now, Amanda recently bought a house, and I probably owe the hospital more money than a house purchase. But I’m thankful we did it that one season—now we’ll never have to wonder what it would be like to be season ticket holders, and we made some really great memories that year.

I wish I could say that about every area of my life.

I think there have been a lot of times I’ve missed out on some potentially incredible opportunities simply because I haven’t taken chances. I’ve mentioned many times before that I used to be a pretty big pansy when it came to letting guys know how I felt. There was a guy I cared about many years ago, and I never did anything about it. Whenever I was around him, I pretended that I was comfortable with us being friends and nothing more. You know what happened? Nothing. We stayed friends for a while and eventually drifted apart, and he started new and exciting chapters in his life without me.

More so lately, I’ve tried to be better about ignoring the risk factor in this regard. Even though it recently became a prolonged situation that resulted in a broken heart, I’m glad I wasn’t as silent as I used to be. I guess it’s better to know than always wonder what would have happened if you had taken a chance.

Because you don’t want to miss out on something that could have changed your life for the better.

I’ve currently been feeling like I’ve been missing out on a lot of things—whether it’s racing, spending time with people, the sunshine, or even sleep. But then I realized that I’m perfectly capable of changing my circumstances by being bold enough to take some chances.

No, my running hasn’t been that strong lately (thanks, kidney), but I’m on the mend now and can begin working toward racing again. I have to be willing to step on the line, even if it means it won’t be my fastest race, though.

And I have to take chances with people. It’s not always the easiest thing to do to reach out to people or sacrifice time when you could be doing a million other things so that you can spend time with the people you want around you. You make time for the things you want to make time for in life—and that can often mean taking leaps of faith for the sake of others.

Sometimes when I’m at work, I look outside and feel like I’m missing out on so much sunshine (I LOVE being outside when it’s sunny out). But I get off work when it’s still light out, so there’s plenty of time for me to be able to enjoy the daylight. Lately, I’ve been going on walks after work more regularly so that I can be outside, and doing so has been very refreshing. It sometimes takes me out of my comfort zone because I’m a very busy person, so it’s often challenging to set aside time simply to enjoy disconnecting from everything, putting in my headphones, and taking an extended moment to breathe.

Sleep isn’t something I want to miss out on, but I definitely need more of it. I’ve been making more concerted efforts to get more sleep, but it’s a bit difficult at times. However, I know that if I seize the opportunity to take a nap or go to bed earlier—even if it means missing out on time I could have been doing something productive—it will benefit me in the long run.

I truly believe chances are meant to be taken. I think boldness is for everyone. Why wonder what could have been when you could have listened to your heart and not your head? I think we overthink things sometimes when we really should simply go with our instincts.

Because you don’t want to miss out on something that could have changed your life for the better.

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Multiple hospital trips and realizing “normal” doesn’t really exist

I never thought I’d find myself as part of the mall walkers crowd on a Sunday morning, but I also never thought I’d be making three trips to the hospital in less than a week.

So I guess life doesn’t always pan out like we thought it would.

I’ve been having kidney pain since a little before Thanksgiving, so I had surgery more than a week ago that was supposed to fix everything. When I woke up from anesthesia, I asked the nurses where my Wheat Thins were and when we were going to the bowling alley, so I assumed everything had gone well.

But Sunday morning, I woke up with a pain I don’t even know how to describe. I called my parents, and before long they were at my apartment to drive me to the ER. I was admitted to the hospital and stayed there until Monday. They sent me home Monday morning, but that exact same pain was back that evening. I really thought I was going to die.

I called my friend Michelle, and she hauled tail to pick me up and take me back to the ER, and it wasn’t long before my sister and brother were there, as well. The time in the ER waiting room felt like an eternity, and the pain just kept getting worse. I think at one point I tried to collapse to the ground, but my sister wouldn’t let me because of sanitation concerns she had.

I guess someone has to pay attention to that kind of stuff.

I was finally taken back to an ER room and hooked up to IVs that pumped some morphine and I think other stuff in me. I got a CT scan, and Dr. Kevin (whom I credited with saving my life and my kidney) discovered I had a kidney infection. Dr. Kristen (I’m pretty sure that’s her name—I can’t say everything from that night is crystal clear) said it could have come as a result of the surgery or could have been there prior to it, contributing to the pain I’ve been having for months.

I was admitted to the hospital (again), and my sweet sister stayed with me until almost 2 in the morning when I finally got up to the room. She is pretty freaking incredible—she had to administer standardized testing that day, operating on very little sleep.

For this go-round, I was in the hospital until late Wednesday with antibiotics and pain meds going through my veins. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, and I would never wish that kind of pain on anyone—and I really mean that.

As I stayed there in that bed, I was reminded of how much we need people in life. First of all, nurses are a different breed of human. I honestly think you have to have a very special heart and personality to be a nurse. They’re so kind and comforting and have to deal with so many different types of people who are suffering from a variety of things. Yet they handle it all with such grace and encouragement.

And I needed my family. I don’t think there was a day that went by that I didn’t have one of them with me for at least a little portion of the day. My parents took of work on different days, and one night my mom even slept on one of those horribly uncomfortable hospital chairs.

I think I took this to send to my friend Bonnie at some point.

And I needed my friends. Whether they were stopping by in the hospital to visit me and bring me necessities (Bonnie with a stuffed dog I named Buddy and Jayna with Wheat Thins, a coloring book and crayons, water, and a pink phone charger) or texting me to check on me, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed in a good way by all of their prayers and well wishes.

But I also realized that life won’t always be the “normal” we want it to be. I had planned on missing two days of work for the surgery. I ended up missing almost seven. Nothing about my life during that stretch of time in and out of the hospital felt normal. My stomach was super inflated from the surgery and then all of the IV fluids, and I even had a minor panic attack when the nurse told me I had to get a shot in my stomach to help prevent blood clots while I was lying in a bed for so long, and I told her that if she stuck a needle in me that my stomach would pop like a balloon. It turned out to be a bit irrational—she gave me the shot, and nothing exploded.

I blame the drugs.

The truth is, though, that the whole normal thing I’m seeking doesn’t always exist. I know life isn’t perfect, and we have to face trials we don’t want to go through. But, for some weird reason, we need them—they help make us who we are. Sure, they may look a lot different than what other people face, but we can’t all have the same things. I’ve been learning that more and more as I see most of my friends find love and happiness, and I have to remind myself that their stories are not my story. Just like my kidneys are not like their kidneys, my fairy tale (if it exists) is different from theirs, too.

Mall walking is obviously very intense.

With each day, the kidney pain is starting to lessen, and I do look forward to feeling more normal in that regard. But I also understand that I have to be a little more cautious because it’s prone to kidney stones and now apparently infections. I can’t run for a little while more, and it was pouring rain Sunday morning, which is why I went to the mall to walk for some exercise along with some guy named Larry and a bunch of others who seemed to be regulars there. It wasn’t quite the norm for me, but it was alright for a one-time bit of a change of pace and scenery. And I’m also OK with the rest of my life not being the definition of normal I would have defined it as years ago.

I don’t think normal ever really fit me well, anyway.

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Because sometimes the plus-one thing doesn’t happen

The saying “This ain’t my first rodeo” annoys me, so I think I’m going to change it up a bit and say something else.

This ain’t my first wedding. (This obviously won’t always be interpreted the right way, so I’ll keep you posted.)

Weddings are not foreign events to me—I’ve been in 19 and attended plenty more as a guest only. I enjoy weddings because they’re fun celebrations of people beginning journeys together that you hope will last for their entire lifetimes.

But weddings can create predicaments for those who—whether by choice or simple reality—are flying solo.

My sister is my go-to plus-one. In fact, the only two guys who were ever supposed to go with me to weddings both bailed on two separate occasions—one lived in a different state and decided a few weeks before the wedding that he was too busy with work to be able to get away for a weekend, and the other merely changed his mind and didn’t want to go. My sister would never do either of those things, and she’s actually endured some pretty awkward and entertaining situations at weddings where she knew pretty much nobody but me. (If you ever meet her, please ask her about the chocolate balls story.)

We have a slight problemo for an upcoming wedding, though: My sister is going to be out of town for another wedding. She has a husband, so she doesn’t need me to be a plus-one. It’s fine.

My sister wasn’t able to be my plus-one at her own wedding, so I went solo. (photo courtesy of the great Kelsey Brown)

Now, I’ve gone to weddings by myself before, which has always been easier when I’ve been in them, but I don’t think I’m going to know that many people other than the bride at this one. Will I survive? Yes, and I’m sure I’ll meet some great people. Even though it’s not always as fun to go stag, it can still be a fun night.

In order to convince others (and myself) of this, I’ve compiled a list of ways to turn a wedding without a plus-one into a great evening.

Dance. I cannot express the importance of this strongly enough. You should always dance, even if you don’t have anyone to dance with you. Plus, you don’t have a date to try to impress with your sweet moves, so you can really let yourself go. And when the slow songs come on, you can twirl around the floor on your own, take a restroom break, catch up on Instagram posts, or make small talk with the people around you who are not swaying with others.

Be more carefree. Even when you’re getting ready for the wedding, you can have less anxiety about how your dress looks on you or whether your hair looks better down or pinned back. You’ll likely also have less stress at the wedding, too. I mean, you don’t even have to keep track of where your date is or worry about if he’s having fun, because you don’t have a date.

Be more daring. A dateless wedding is a great opportunity to meet more people and strike up better conversations than those regarding what the weather’s been doing lately or surface-level information about your career. And if you’re really feeling bold, you can test out a joke or two without worrying about whether or not people laugh. If they don’t, you may never see them again, so who really cares? The only person who can make fun of you to you later is you, and hopefully you won’t do that.

Scout. If you’re flying solo at a wedding, there’s a chance you won’t be the only one doing so. You might meet someone who strikes your fancy whom you never would have met if you’d brought a semi-random plus-one or skipped out on going altogether.

Let’s be honest: The real reason you go to a wedding is to celebrate the union of people you truly care about, and the event isn’t actually about you and your dating status. But it’s definitely an event that can remind you of how single you are and how much you wish you had someone in your life, as well. Someone who knows everything about you and still wants to be with you. Someone who will fight for you. Someone who will endure the bad moments and celebrate the good ones. Someone who will always cheer for you. Someone who will hold your hand and genuinely care when you cry. Someone who would never intentionally hurt you.

Someone who consistently shows you what true love is and what true love does.

Being single isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it can certainly be challenging at times. It shouldn’t be something that sucks out happiness, though. Some people find their people later in life, and some never find them at all. Regardless, it’s important to find the joy even in those moments when you feel the most alone.

After all, if you look around you, you’ll realize you’re never as alone as you might think you are.

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What if we didn’t judge people?

Life isn’t really one big stage on which we’re performing on a daily basis.

So we don’t actually need to worry about the crowd’s perception so much.

I’m not a gymnast. Even though I tried to be way back in the day, I didn’t get very far—I was horrible. So, honestly, it comes as no surprise to me that no one has ever asked me to judge international gymnastics competitions. I mean, what expertise do I possess to be qualified to judge others in this sport? Zero.

It’s interesting, though, how quickly we’re able to judge other people in so many other areas of life. I was talking to my friend Bonnie one day last week about a mean comment someone had said to me about my outfit. I usually don’t care what people think about what I’m wearing, but it was one of those days when I didn’t need any extra negativity, and this person made me feel like I didn’t even belong at work that day.

And then Bonnie said something so true: “The world would be a better place if people would stop judging.”

Amen, sister.

You know what this sign doesn’t say? “Judge people.”

For many of us, as we get older, we tend to care less and less about what people think of us in some areas of our lives—we’ll go to the grocery store in pajamas, and we’ll say things out loud in public that might have embarrassed us 10 years ago. But, even as adults, every once in a while, other people can still make us feel small.

When I was teaching high school, I remember so many instances when I had to remind my students that they should feel comfortable in their own skin and not worry about what other people thought or said about them. I would argue that most high schoolers are pretty concerned with judgments others make about them, but I would also argue that the concern doesn’t always vanish when you’re older.

For the most part, I couldn’t care less about people judging me. Life’s too short to worry about stuff like that. It’s been more of a struggle, though, when it comes to guys I’m interested in—because obviously their opinions matter. But I don’t think they should to the extent that I sometimes think they should. I can recall many situation in which I’ve been to shy or quiet when I really should have just been me.

Let’s flash back to college. I was really good friends with a guy I had a crush on, and we spent a significant amount of time together. I was pretty comfortable around him most of the time, but there were other times when I felt I couldn’t completely be myself and make my dumb jokes and comments or even sing out loud in the car. That’s not a good thing, and I later realized that.

Thankfully, down the road I became more comfortable with other guys I met, and I performed Taylor Swift on a boat and unexpectedly sang the same song at a wedding reception, both in front of fellas I liked. But I sometimes still have moments when I freeze up out of fear of what a guy will think of me. Every once in a while, it may take me about 14 minutes to hit send on one text because I’m having anxiety about what homeboy will think. Note to self: It’s just a text.

People are always going to judge us. It doesn’t mean it’s right, but it’s a reality. We don’t have to let their opinions impact the way we live, though. We are the people we are for reasons, and we don’t need to change simply because of what others might think about us. If you want to sing Whitney or Britney at karaoke, please belt it. If you want to veer away from tradition when planning your wedding, go for it. If you want to believe that leggings are pants, believe it, and wear them with pride. If you want to put ketchup instead of mustard on your hot dog, slather away. If you really like the shirt that your friend said she’d never wear in public, for the love, buy the freaking shirt. If you are sitting at the airport and realize you forgot to put on deodorant, but the bathroom is too far away, and the deodorant is right in your bag and would be easier to put on right where you are, you do what you need to do, regardless of the looks you receive.

Just be you.

Bonnie is right: The world would absolutely be a better place if people would stop judging. But it would also be better if we stopped caring so much about those judgments. I know I’m going to remind myself more to be me all of the time, even when it comes to some guy who strikes my fancy. After all, he should accept me for who I am—just like others should accept you for the person you are. And, to be honest, the people who truly care about you won’t make you feel like you’re not good enough as you are.

Because love is better than that.

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Because life can be exhausting

I wish I could go back and tell my kindergarten self to appreciate and actually sleep during nap time.

Because that little girl is going to miss it greatly when she’s an adult.

I think we all go through periods of life that are more exhausting than others. It seems like there will never be enough hours for adequate amounts of sleep, the madness will never end, and we’ll be in perpetual states of zombie-like existences. After all, there’s simply no time for rest.

To be perfectly honest, I’m tired. Really tired. For years now (probably beginning some time during college), I’ve averaged about four to five hours of sleep each night. I’m aware that adults are really supposed to get between seven and nine hours, but that’s obviously not happening.

And let’s be real: Lack of sleep is not the only thing that makes us exhausted.

Life is hard sometimes. We deal with things that wear us out or leave us hurt and emotionally spent. We face situations that require so much of our energy that it’s difficult to expend it in other areas of our lives, as well.

My friend recently had her first baby, and her life has definitely changed in drastic ways. We met for froyo the other day, and she apologized for not being as perky as usual. She mentioned that there was baby throw-up in her hair, she hadn’t showered in two days, and she had attempted to throw on a little bit of makeup so that she looked somewhat presentable. She also lost her dad last week and yet is somehow keeping herself together. She’s exhausted.

Another friend of mine is going through a difficult breakup and all that goes with a broken heart. Crying sure can wear a person out. She’s also trying to remain strong and positive at the same time, and she still has to go to work and go through many other aspects of her life as if everything is normal. But she’s exhausted.

I met a man on the elevator the other day who was on his way to catch a plane to Chicago for a meeting, and then he had to turn around and fly home that same night. He travels quite a bit throughout the week for work and said he does a lot of day trips like that, and the weekends are spent going to his kids’ soccer games and making up for lost time with his family. He seemed exhausted.

I’ve been in a rough patch for quite a few months now and feel drained a lot of the time. I’m trying to make some bigger decisions than I want to deal with, and I’m also trying to forget about something that just won’t go away. On top of it all, on Friday I found out that I have to have a more invasive surgery than I originally thought. I’m exhausted.

We all have very different situations, and we all deal with them in different ways. When my friend with the newborn asked me how I’m doing, and I said I am really tired, I apologized and said I shouldn’t say that to her. But she said something I’d expect to hear from her: “It’s not a competition. I want to hear about it.”

And she listened.


Moments after this pic, my sister, Audrey (my parents’ dog) and I were all three snoozing.

She’s right, too: We all have our own reasons for feeling worn down, and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. Instead, we should simply be there for one another. People need people. No matter how busy we get or how tired we become, it’s always important to make time for people. If you throw yourself into your work or your training or whatever it is you focus much of your time and energy on that has nothing to do with the important people in your life, and you never make time for those who truly matter, at the end of the day, what do you have?

Exhaustion isn’t exactly a comfort for the lonely.

The difficult periods usually don’t last forever—and time doesn’t last forever, either. When you’re feeling exhausted, remember that there are people who care about you and will be there for you if you let them. And also remember that others out there are tired, too. You don’t know the story of every person you encounter, so try to keep that in mind and show a little compassion any chance you get.

I’m going to try to start making more time for others but also still finding plenty of time to rest and sleep. Sure, I’ll have to make some changes to my schedule, but I think I can do it if I’m diligent about it.

Besides, I don’t want to look back years from now and wish I could tell my 32-year-old self a bit of advice that I should have known all along.

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