Every year I proudly announce what a great summer I’m going to have. It’s going to be filled with all of those activities that one imagines summer to be filled with– canoeing down the river, cheersing beer at many of Dayton’s festivals, hiking those new trails. It’s going to be fantastic- Pinterest-worthy, in the very least.
Then June rolls around, and my dreams start to unravel: no one is available to go to the strawberry fields, summer concert tickets are way more expensive than I thought and the barbeque guest list feels too overwhelming. These excuses make me want to just cancel out on…. everything. No fresh berries, no camaraderie at festivals, no fun cook-out. I wallow in my own pity, and blame everyone and everything else for my missed adventures.
This year, I was bound and determined to not fall into this trap. This pattern of behavior had to be broken, and I have realized in life that it can either go two ways: a.) you decide to change it. Voila- simple. OR, b.) You don’t change it and continue to feel frustrated and the victim of circumstance. Bleck.
Earlier this summer, I desperately wanted to go strawberry picking, and I wanted to go with a friend. I envisioned us digging through the plants, searching for those juicy red berries. We would leave with our bellies full and our fingers red. This is how I saw it, and this is what I wanted. But problems arose: the only time I could go was midday, when the rest of the world was at work. By the time someone was available, all of the berries would be picked over and gone. I could feel the gray clouds mounting overhead. I was ready to throw in my towel. If it wasn’t going to happen the way I wanted, was it really going to be as fun? Probably not, so why waste the time.
At this moment, I caught my pattern. Yep- there it was, staring me straight in the face. Talking me out of the first item on my summer bucket list. So I did something I hadn’t before- I changed it. Instead of resigning myself to an afternoon of disappointment, I reasoned with myself, “Nope, just go. You’ll regret it if you don’t.” And I went. By myself. With a pail and a hat and a bottle of water in hand. And it was fabulous.
Sometimes things don’t look the way you picture them. Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. At these points, it’s useful to ask yourself, what is it that you really want? What is it that you truly desire out of the experience? In my case, what I really wanted were some fresh-picked strawberries that I had picked myself. Sure, it would have been great to share the experience with someone, but it wasn’t able to work out that way.
It isn’t easy, but next time you find yourself in a sticky situation and things aren’t going as you envisioned, try to pause and choose – A or B. Ask yourself, can I change the way I’m experiencing this situation? The answer could possibly be no, in which you now consciously choose and own the frustration, instead of it running rampant on your happiness. But the answer could also be yes, which will immediately dispense any feelings of frustration or blame and leaving you with excitement for your new adventure.