Life can get hectic. It isn’t a matter of if but a matter of when.
For the past nineteen months of my life, I’ve been on a rollercoaster with my physical health. I’ve been frustrated, depressed, confused, and at times, hopeless. This took a toll on my emotional and mental state and was, at times, the root of many breakdowns.
At the beginning of June this year, my health got significantly worse. But at the same time, there was hope. Each issue my new doctor found, put me one step closer to finally getting answers. Call it process of elimination, I guess.
But earlier this year, I made a commitment prior to my health becoming a bigger issue: working a four day camp for kids affected by the foster system and adoption process.
I won’t dive into my health debacle entirely, but will say that I was terrified to work the camp. I was worried I wouldn’t have the energy to keep up with the kids, or that I’d have a seizure in front of them. I’d been looking forward to this camp for months because foster care and adoption has such a huge place in my heart. It’s something my boyfriend and I both share a passion for.
A week prior to camp, a cardiologist put me on a heart monitor after having been in the hospital. After that visit, my energy level didn’t exist and I was convinced that I wouldn’t be the version of myself that the kids needed me to be.
I forded myself to pack anyway. All I did was worry, convinced the worst would at some point happen.
Zero energy. Outside in the constant heat while trying to keep my heart rate down. Thirty minutes plus away from a hospital. What could go wrong?
But I made it to camp, met all eleven of my kids and it turned out being the best week of my year so far.
No matter how busy life gets, you’ve got to find a way to slow it down and find a new perspective. Force yourself out of the day-to-day routine. Do something new or something you haven’t done in a while.
For me, slowing it down and doing something I haven’t done in a while meant working as a summer camp counselor. Working camps used to be the highlight of my summer up until I graduated college and had to start adulting.
After one day with my cabin kids, I learned they have had it far worse than me. My first night sleeping there was a humbling experience. I’d worked camps before, but none like this one. Not a camp for kids who at some point in their life felt like they didn’t belong at home.
Each kid made me smile, laugh and some of them manage to make me cry. I’d never seen such strength live inside such a small body. Their optimism hardly wavered.
Positivity. Adventure. Joy.
That is what my cabin kids exemplified during the week. Now, they were a bit rowdy and chaotic at times, but that is what kids do. At times, it was like herding a group of grasshoppers on Redbull! (Sam came up with that creative/spot on comparison!)
I was so busy with the kids, I hardly had time to think about my health issues or even notice how my body felt. It did hit me, though, every night and morning, but thank God for coffee, right?
The children don’t know this, but their bravery and ability to make the most of their time at camp changed my perspective on my medical circumstances. Their constant joy and eagerness for each day put me in the same mood.
Are my medical circumstances still chaotic? Yes.
Am I going to be mad at the world because of these chaotic circumstances? No. It does nothing for my mental, physical or emotional state.
All it does is cripple the person I’m meant to be and I hate that it’s taken 19 months for that sink in.
Children have a blind innocence that helps them to see life on simpler terms. It’s a trait I hope they hold onto for as long as this world allows.
One of the kids I bunked with noticed my heart monitor. She asked a few questions and I gave her honest answers about my health and my frustrations.
“But you’re tough. Stay positive. You’ve got Sam to make it better.”
That is what one of my kids said to me. She said it with a certainty that made me step back from it all.
Sometimes, it is that simple. Sometimes, staying positive can make a world of difference.
Lately, I’ve been intimidated by everything that’s stacked against me, rather than acknowledging that I have the strength to be more than my trials. And my strength comes from the people around me.
I need to learn to lean on people.
That is what the little girl made me realize. I have such a huge support system, but I don’t turn to them like I need to. I can guarantee that if I lean more on my support system, my mental and emotional state would rise so high, it’d drown out the worries and struggle of my physical state.
And I feel like a lot of us, men and women included, need to work on this. Men worry they’ll be viewed as sensitive. Women worry men will view them as weak or needy. Pride aside, we all need help at some point in our lives.
There aren’t billions of people on this planet for us to tackle trials alone. Each person exists in your life for a reason.
And it took a nine year old’s simple breakdown to help me gain that new perspective.
Children have a blind optimism that can strip away the layers we’ve added on to an already complicated situation.
That innocence is lost as we get older.
Sometimes, the best thing to do when life gets uneasy is to look at life through the eyes of a child and find the simplest truths hiding in the harsh realities.
Lean on those around you. It’s that simple.
So, if you’re stuck in a rut and need a new perspective, work as a counselor at a summer camp. Kids are smart in a way we are no longer programmed to be. Their perspective is simple and straight to the point.
Sometimes, that is all you need to realize life can happen to you or for you.
Until next time,