I should have expected the rain.
I should have expected the cold.
I should have expected the same sizest cultural norms that catered to thin people.
But I was prepared for none of that, so I spent my first ten days in Mexico City borrowing chalecos from my host while I desperately searched in vain for warmer clothes in the markets.
You’d think after 34 years of being a fat girl who can’t shop at regular stores I’d be used to the disappointment of finding nothing to wear.
But I’m not.
It still hurts every single time.
After 4 hours of searching at the largest mall in town, I sat on a bench and cried.
Why does everything have to be so damn hard?
Did I mention my bank card isn’t working down here and I can’t get cash and my rent is due?
Did I mention my computer crashed and I lost half of the book I’ve been working on, including my favorite chapters?
Did I mention my Spanish is horrible and I keep getting lost in translation?
Did I mention I accidentally ordered my churro baked not fried (I mean really, who bakes a churro?!)?
As I cried on that bench – yes people were staring – I asked myself this:
What if it’s supposed to be hard? What if that’s part of it all?
Now hear me out, because I’m not one for being a philosophical pessimist who waxes poetically about the beauty in man’s eternal crises.
This isn’t about suffering for the cause or romanticizing pain.
Real pain – like grief and hunger and trauma and torture – is not fun, it’s not part of the plan, it’s not a growing opportunity. It’s just plain shitty.
My question isn’t about real, true, life-threatening suffering, it’s about the difficulty that comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone.
As I sat on that bench, I thought about this bit from Parenthood, one of my family’s favorite movies, about the roller coaster of life.
I thought about when I ran a marathon or wrote a book or climbed Mt. Fuji or traveled around the world by myself or graduated law school or started my writing career.
None of life’s greatest accomplishments are easy.
Here’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately, one I want you to ask yourself the next time something is painful:
Is this hard because I’m really, truly miserable? Or is this hard because I’m on an uphill part of the journey?
If you’re really, truly miserable, stop and find the nearest exit. Take the next plane home. Take the downhill path.
If you’re really, truly miserable, do whatever you can do to change it.
But if this is just the uphill part of the journey, if it’s just a part of fighting for what you love, or creating new memories, or growing into your most authentic self – keep going.
Stop and cry on a bench for sure, but then get back up and keep searching for what you came here for.
Because who knows, maybe just when you’ve given up hope, you’ll find the thing you’ve been looking for all along.
With love and light (and now warmth too!)
P.S. There is a lot of real suffering going on in the world right now. I want to reward you for helping ease it. Donate your time or money during the month of September and I’ll give you one of my programs for free. Check out this blog post for more details.