Hello Friends and Family!
Wow, 2020 is over! What a year it has been! You don’t need me to remind you, I’m sure we’re all ringing in 2021 a little differently than we thought, and definitely not the way we’d hoped. But the new year is here! Time continues passing whether we are ready for it or not, whether we want it to pass slowly or quickly, time is the only sure constant.
Before I go and get completely existential on you, I wanted to share something I’ve been thinking about. It’s the question: Forever? Or for now?
I don’t know why it’s taken me 23 years to start applying this concept to my life, but better late than never, and now I can share it with all of you!
When I was little I played outside a lot with my brother and sister. Don’t get me wrong, we fostered a great love for video games, but we also spent time exploring the woods behind our house and making secret hideouts. As is my unfortunate lot in life, I would often get hurt during the siblings’ adventure. Sometimes it was just bad luck, like the time I fell out of a tree, down a hill, off a large rock, and into a creek. Other times it was more self-inflicted, like the time I rode in the wheelbarrow down the hill in our backyard and crashed into the garden shed. (What? I wore my helmet!) When I would end up back in the house, crying over my various cuts and bruises, my dad would ask me “is this a 5 second hurt? A 5-minute hurt? Or an hour hurt?”. It was a quick and easy way to ask me nicely, ‘do you just have to cry for a bit, or should I take you to the hospital?’. Usually it would be a 5 second hurt, occasionally a 5-minute hurt, with one or two hour-hurts and hospital visits for flavor. (Don’t ask me why I thought it was a good idea to pretend to ice skate on our wooden deck without shoes on. The hole I had in my foot for the next few weeks was a good reminder to use my head.)
I hadn’t thought about Dad’s question in a while. After all, living life with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses means that most of my hurts are a ‘lifelong’ hurt. But his words came back to me last week when I was studying Korean.
For anyone who doesn’t know (have you just plugged your ears and screamed ‘lalalalala’ every time I spoke or what?) I am currently in South Korea and enrolled in Seoul National University’s Korean Language Program. I’m very happy to be here and I’ve met lots of amazing people, but my short-term memory isn’t great, which makes language learning a struggle.
Last week, I was going over some vocabulary terms and cursing the illnesses and medications that mess with my memory, when I started to get frustrated and overwhelmed. I then did what I always do when I’m upset: I called my mom. We talked, mostly just about our days and what we were doing, but I also expressed my frustration with the difficulties I’d been having remembering Korean words and phrases. Before mom could remind me that language learning is hard, I’ve only been here for a month, etc. I was possessed by the spirit of a much wiser lady than myself and I said: “It’s okay. This is a for now problem, not a forever problem”.
Those words hit me like a train.
At the time (and frankly, right now, as I’m studying crazily for my midterm next week) I was so caught up in my feelings and worry that it was easy to forget this too shall pass. I know, I know. I’m quoting every Hallmark ‘sorry for your loss’ card in existence, but you get my point. It felt like I would never remember my vocabulary, that I would always struggle with basic Korean. And I’ve felt that way about a lot of things.
When I’m in the midst of a panic attack or a dark depression spell, it’s difficult to remember that I won’t always feel that way. Depression makes it hard to think outside of the dark, cold, blah that is inside you, and anxiety makes you so concerned with the what-if’s that it’s impossible to think about a time outside of the troubles bouncing around in your brain.
But those problems? They aren’t forever problems. They’re for now problems. It’s hard to remember when you’re still in the middle of it all, but the realization can feel like a weight off your chest.
So as 2020 comes to a close and we enter a new year, let’s remember this: yes, the problems we faced in 2020 are following us into the new year. Yes, things are scary and dangerous right now, and our lives have changed so completely over the last 12 months. But, these are not forever problems. They’re for now problems. We don’t have an exact answer for when these things will pass, but we know they will.
I enter 2021 with this one thought in mind: Not forever. Just for now.
Stay strong spoonies. Remember, you are a WorryWarrior.