My junior year in high school was memorable for several reasons, one of them being a distinct lesson I’ll carry with me for life.
I was taking physics that year and hated it. Science was never a forte of mine, though I dreamed of being a crime scene analyst. Now, I just live vicariously through the drama that unfolds to try and detective work my way through a crime television show or movie. In the spring, our teacher had us work on a project that left me in a puddle of insecurity, doubt, fear and frustration. It was called the mousetrap project. I don’t remember the exact premise of the project, but I know we had to build a car with a mousetrap to propel the vehicle forward. We would receive bonus points the further your car traveled. I was in class with some of the smartest people in my junior class, reiterating how science was not my strong suit.
At the time, I couldn’t do anything without my friends. So a bunch of us got together at my house to figure this project out, together, separately, since it wasn’t a group project. It seemed to come much easier to my friends than myself. I still hadn’t figured out how I was going to build my car and such when they left that night. Shortly after them leaving, I remember breaking down on the kitchen floor, overwhelmed by emotion because I just couldn’t figure this damn thing out. My mom came down to check on me and she listened while I cried explaining what I couldn’t figure out. I remember wanting her to tell me the answers, so I could just go to bed. But instead, she just said, “Lauren, you’re just going to have to figure it out.”
Of course that response made me mad, but what she said to me ended up being so much more valuable than I could ever anticipate.
I stayed up for hours trying to figure out this project. I was frustrated because of the high expectation and comparison I had of myself to my friends. I can look back and see how this was just another example of how I push to do the best or push for the way things should be, instead of just figuring something out for myself, my way that makes sense to me. I think I ended up getting a B-something on the project.
But I figured it out.
Shortly before graduating college, I was plagued with the same emotions of insecurity, doubt, fear and frustration, because I needed to figure out my life before graduation. From a young age, my parents made it very clear that moving home wasn’t an option. I remember a lot of my friends, reacting negatively to that, like my parents were being mean. But I knew it was to push my brother and I to our highest potential. For that, I’m incredibly grateful. I felt the pressure, though, of needing to find my dream job, the perfect apartment to live in, the best roommate a person could want. All of that, doesn’t exist. Of course, everyone has ideas of what you should do, but I took charge of what I wanted. I found an basement apartment to live in by myself and I worked a couple freelance jobs to pay the bills, until I got my first full-time job–eight months after graduation.
But I figured it out.
Was it difficult? Of course. There were a lot of swings, and a few misses (that’s a baseball analogy for those of you confused).
I think that’s just life in general, especially, as an adult. There’s no manual you receive when you become one. Adulthood is just figuring stuff out. Sometimes you figure it out quickly, sometimes you have to learn the lesson multiple times.
When I look back at my life, and especially my career, I’m blown away by what I’ve accomplished and how I got to where I am. I wouldn’t be where I am without God. I hope that’s obvious in my life. Never would I have imaged being in the position that I’m in, let only living where I’m living. Seriously. This wasn’t really the plan, but here we are. I fight those negative thoughts of insecurity, doubt, fear and frustration, often–thank you anxiety. Am I the right person to do this thing? Why do I feel so unprepared? Are my expectations too high?
I recently had to complete a project I was wildly underprepared for and not something I had really ever done before. A lot of late nights this week, Googling and watching YouTube tutorials.
But I figured it out.
Let me so clear: figuring it out might mean asking someone else for help. It might mean setting up boundaries that isolate you from a life you used to live. It might mean looking at yourself differently in the mirror. It might mean taking longer to complete something. It might mean being real honest. It might mean going into auto-pilot because that is what’s necessary. It might mean not doing something the most efficient way (I’m preaching to the choir here). It might mean setting something aside because now is not the time to address it. It might mean fully surrendering and saying, “God, I can’t do this without you.”
We’re living in the strangest of times and I can’t help but think about all these examples of times when I was in uncharted territory. This, is one of those times. We are faced with living life differently than maybe we ever had to have done. Is it difficult? By every means, yes. But we’re figuring it out.
This time in quarantine really has me taking a magnifying glass to a lot of things in my life. Sometimes I don’t want to do that work, I’d rather just sit in front of the television and watch an episode or 10–it’s a thing called balance, right?
But I’m figuring it out.
Most importantly, I know that at some point, I’ll look back (we all will look back) and see how monumental this time was and how we figured “it” out.
And, that sometimes, your parents actually know what they’re talking about.