When I took this portrait of my daughter, she and I enjoyed a stay at a 5-star hotel. Life was great! No cooking, no taking out the trash, no grocery shopping! We enjoyed Michelin food, facials, massage, and soaked up the sun by the pool. Everything was perfect!
A few days after we had returned home from our vacation, everything suddenly wasn’t perfect! My daughter called me in the middle of the night, crying in panic. On her way home from a concert in another city, she accidentally took a train in the wrong direction. She was now stranded far away from where we lived. There were no more trains for the night, and to make things worse, she only had 5% battery left on her phone!
I think every parent can relate to the horrifying worries that entered my mind. I wanted to rescue her as quickly as possible. I wanted her to be safe. I felt powerless because I couldn’t do that immediately. I had to be patient. I had to keep my hopes up that nothing would happen to her while she stood alone in the dark at a lonely train station.
So in the middle of the night, in extreme thunder and pouring rain, I drove to pick up my daughter. The thing is; I fear driving on the highway in the dark because there’s no light. I don’t like the limited visibility! It stresses me out, and the thunderstorm made me even more anxious.
I felt fear vividly growing in me, but I refused to give in to it. I knew going into panic mode would not do the situation any good. Tears of frustration wanted to burst out, but I was determined to stay in control. I decided to be strong for my daughter; to do that, I had to overcome my own fears.
In all my eagerness to get my girl, I had forgotten to use the toilet before I left the house. Now, I really had to pee badly, but I didn’t want to stop; I wanted my daughter safe first. After two stressful hours on the road, I was relieved when I finally found her at the deserted train station!
I ran out and hugged her with relief. As I guided her to the car, I noticed two creepy guys lurking around. Luckily, she was safe now, and I couldn’t wait to take her home with me.
But I had another emergency…I REALLY had to pee…a lot! My bladder felt like exploding. The nearest gas station was closed, and with no possibility of finding a toilet in the area, I had to “invent an imaginary ladies’ room” behind a dumpster in a parking lot…
While I sat there, peeing amid the thunderstorm with heavy rain coming down on me, I noticed that I had peed on my left sneakers. Great! Not only was I soaked from the rain, but now I also had to drive back home with this smelly, wet shoe…
In that moment, my mind wandered back to the fabulous days at the 5-star hotel; the beautiful infinity pool, the colorful cocktails, the calming spa treatments, the happy sunny days with no worries…
And suddenly, I laughed out loud. The contrast between “then and now” was surreal. It was hilarious!
THIS, I thought to myself, is such a good reminder that life is ever-changing, and you never know what will happen next. You just have to deal with it the best you can and trust that, no matter what happens, you will figure out how to get through it.
Life will challenge you in unexpected ways. Circumstances will test your willingness to act despite feeling fear. And at that moment, when you act, you understand that you can do more than you think, that you are braver than you believe, and that you can overcome most things.
The truth is that we humans rarely intentionally leave our comfort zone. We like to be safe, avoid everything that triggers our fears, and avoid putting ourselves in situations of feeling inadequate.
But the thing is, we grow the most from unexpected, challenging situations because they put us out of our comfort zone.
I learned a lot about myself from this experience. I realized that I CAN drive in the dark despite my anxiety (still, I wouldn’t say I like it, but I can do it). I learned that I CAN manage my fears and worries in complicated situations, that I’m capable of finding humor in a bad situation, and don’t die from getting pee on my shoes. All good lessons to learn, right.
So what’s my point with telling you this story?
Simple: to help you look for the good in the bad.
Some of the most powerful resources you develop will arise from challenging situations. Strength doesn’t come from living the good life in a luxurious hotel – it comes from interacting with life outside your comfort zone. That’s how you get to know yourself. That’s how you become confident in your own skin and discover your true power.
With love, and a huge smile…