Have you ever been thrown a curve ball in life that knocks you off your feet? Maybe you lost someone, got sick, failed at something, or were hurt by someone. Life has a way of knocking us down sometimes but I believe we’re only given what we can handle.
I’ve faced a lot of challenges in my life, most of which are best left for another blog. But I survived, and so can you. Some of you might be thinking, “I’ve been down and out, and I know how to get back up.” I used to think that too, until I moved away for post-secondary and was separated from my trusted support network. I had to learn how to put myself back together again after a pretty devastating breakup, and in the process I learned a lot about myself.
People see me as a pretty put-together person. I’m often asked how I’m still vertical (as opposed to lying horizontal in a puddle on the floor). The truth is, I’ve learned to cope with challenges and hardships by focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, and moving step by step through hard times.
Recovering after a bad breakup
My most recent challenge: heartbreak. We met in my first year of university, and lived together for six wonderful years. We even bought a house together. Unfortunately, things just weren’t meant to be. The life I’d imagined and planned with him doesn’t exist anymore. Now there’s a for-sale sign in front of our beautiful home, and I have to find a new place to live for myself and my seventeen-year-old sister, of whom I am legal guardian.
Some days I find that the simplest tasks are the hardest to accomplish. I look at my empty fridge and have no desire to go grocery shopping, let alone cook. The reality of dealing with a challenge like this as a student is that homework, tasks, and chores get put off while you attempt to pick up the pieces until you’re left scrambling just to catch up.
But the thing to remember is that this won’t be every day and it sure won’t be the rest of your life. I’ve found that the best way for me to deal with these bumps in the road is to just start small—you don’t have to fix everything all at once. Instead, just focus on putting one foot in front of the other and putting yourself back together piece by piece.
How to get through hard times
Below are the steps that I took to get back in the game after being seriously blindsided. Maybe they’ll help you find your way through a challenge you’re facing.
The first step is always the hardest, and will be different for everyone. You might need to yell, cry, write, or plan. In my case it was contacting the real estate agent to get the house sold. No one will be able to move on with those memories hanging around, so it’s got to go.
Make a change, big or small, or try something new. For me, it was time to find a new place to live! Intimidating, but also exciting (I get to decorate again)! Buy or rent? What side of town? Making little decisions will help give you back some control over your life.
Take care of the little things. For me, this meant dealing with utilities, furniture, packing… Remember to pace yourself and only bite off what you can chew each day. And when the day comes that reality hits you like a wall—and it will!—remember the next step.
Cry. Just let it out. Be angry at the world for a brief moment in time. Then take a deep breath, and take the next step.
Reach out to someone who cares. We all feel alone when the world comes crashing down, but there are people who care about you. Family, friends, school counsellors... Most colleges and universities will also have supports such as career counsellors or psychologists on campus who are there for you. There are also clubs of all different kinds that you can reach out to.
Find your yoga! Maybe you’re like me and yoga just isn’t your jam. But perhaps there’s something else that can get you feeling just as zen. For me, it’s stationary. I LOVE pens, paper, notebooks, and planners. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t buy a planner when I was in crisis mode. Not even yoga is more cathartic than cracking the spine on a new planner and just working through, well, whatever I need to work through.
Smile. Remember there are so many great people and opportunities out there. Things might suck right now, but these experiences will reveal so much about the people in your life and you’ll learn a lot about what you’re capable of too. Plus, smiling releases chemicals in your brain that trigger the ‘happy-effect.’ So why not fake it ‘til you make it—smiling is a great place to start!
And throughout every step, remember to breathe. You’ll get through this.
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