When Things are Bad

This week has been bad.

Well, maybe not the whole week…

I very often try to get myself to focus on the good things in life. After all, I’m in a position where I’ve been able to go back to school to pursue a different career in spite of my already being a father of two. Not a lot of people are in a position to do what I’m doing now, and I’m eternally grateful to all the people who are actively making this possible for me.

Even so, there are days when this sense of optimism can only get me so far. Anxiety and depression make it difficult to keep up with school assignments which leads to even more anxiety when I miss due dates. I know I’ll be grateful to myself for sticking with it for the rest of my life, but there are moments when a sense of hopelessness sneaks in, and I start questioning why I don’t just throw in the towel while I have the chance. After all, I could always go back to my old occupation—even if it was boring the life out of me.

So what does one do when the path they’ve chosen seems like the wrong one?

To be quite honest, I don’t know. Everyone has to choose for themselves how much they’re willing to sacrifice to achieve something. For me, I can’t help but think that in the long term, things will get easier as I settle into school and eventually can find a job that does a better job of balancing time for school and family.

It may seem a bit like wishful thinking, but even at this point, there are things I feel have improved about my life. I have less time overall, but I’ve been able to spend more time with my family in the mornings, and I’ve been able to take the time to write for both YouTube and this blog again for the first time in a long time.

In moments of depression or panic attacks, these facts don’t really matter. Those of you who also struggle with these feelings will know what I mean. It can be easy to tell ourselves or others to just “stay positive” or to “count your blessings!” I honestly don’t feel like this kind of advice actually helps in the long term. Instead, when things get bad, I’ve got my own slogan I like to use. It may not be as upbeat as “Live, Laugh, Love” or “Good Vibes Only”, but I think my motto, “this too shall pass,” offers much more substance to my ongoing struggles.

The saying “This too shall pass” is credited to Abraham Lincoln, but the idea itself predates him by thousands of years. The Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece taught that one should approach the problems in their life with a realistic understanding that, ultimately, all of life—even the bad—is temporary.

Maybe that’s not very comforting, but to me, it gives me much more hope than any forced positivity ever has. When I look back on the bad things that I’ve gone through, I’ve still gotten through them one way or another. The days during my first semester when I felt helpless and like an academic failure were quickly forgotten once I started improving my grades. The daily struggles of taking care of a newborn feel incredibly distant now that I have a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old toddler to attend to.

I wish I had happier advice for people like myself. I wish I had answers for whether or not everything is going to be okay in my family and my academic life—but at the same time, I know that’s not how life works. Sometimes, things are really, really bad. You’re going to have bad days, bad weeks, and even bad years—but one way or another, it will all pass.

So think positive or negative or whatever you want—either way, the worst-case scenario isn’t that bad when you consider the grand scheme of things.

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