“Oh waiter! Pity party table for none please!” I really hate pity parties. I appreciate sympathy but I just don’t like when people want to be sad for me. I’m the first to admit that my life hasn’t been the easiest but it definitely hasn’t been the hardest either. I try to look at my life as a glass that only caries half it’s potential volume. Whether the lens over my vision one day is half full or half empty; there is water in the glass and I wont have to die of dehydration. I’m going to try my best to avoid superimposing my view of life onto everyone else because I realize that everyone’s situation is different but the metaphors and viewpoints here fit well on mine.
1. I acknowledged my story.
High school was pretty easy, IB and all until sad days became my normal state of being and it was then with the struggles and emotional pain that kept tearing me up inside I was put the my first real test. I had to work and I had to survive. I made it through that but if one thing didn’t turn into another my sadness became something more, something more complicated. It’s a chapter of my life that may never really close but I don’t have to stay on the same page forever. The story goes on and I ended up in college ready to fight to keep my head above the water and exchange stories with my fellow students.
I came to college scared and wide eyed. I felt a huge weight about what I was going to have to do with my opportunity. By opportunity I really mean my “Thank-goodness-my-work-has-paid-off-I-can-actually-further-my-education-and-my-parent’s-sacrifices-weren’t-in-vain” blessing. To give you some back story on why I felt so pressured when I came to an extremely rigorous. I come from a family where none of my immediate family has a 4 year degree; my father has a GED and my mother has an associates. So on top of being a first generation college student, I’m also going to The College of William & Mary with a scholarship and financial aid that worked out in my favor. My parents saved and put away a little for college but that entire fund couldn’t pay for a year of tuition. So when I say the opportunity I have means the world to me I’m not kidding. My life choices boiled down to staying in the neighborhood I currently live in indefinitely or work until I could earn the funding I needed to thrive. From very early on I knew that it was either work so hard schools will be willing to fund me completely or… I didn’t really even consider the latter option.
2. Sharing my story came natural.
At first my conversations with schoolmates seemed normal to me. Yeah most people don’t live with both parents who have mental illnesses or have one a parent who’s lungs don’t work the way they should and is losing their memory. I did lose my older sister this year but I’ve got to keep moving. It wasn’t the happiest thing to think about but it never hit me that everything surmounted into being a rather difficult situation to hear about from someone.
3. Listen to the responses.
I’m not telling you all this to make you feel bad for me on the contrary, I want to share with you all the story that is my life. Truthfully, after a while of trying to share my story with people, I realized it was actually rather sad and hard. But when I was constantly confronted with the responses of “Wow. I’m so sorry.” or “That really sucks/That must be hard to deal with” or “You’re so strong. I never could imagine something like that. I wouldn’t be able to deal with any of that.” The latter is the one I’m the least fond of though.
4. Re-frame how I heard those responses.
I am a strong believer that we are all capable of dealing with more than we think and that we are as strong as life forges us to be. I’ve been
through some fire and I’m more tempered than I was. That strength will continue to grow I’m sure of it because life isn’t always going to be easy. But one thing I’ve grown to love about life(good or bad) is that the sun still shines on the life I live and I am doing better than I could be and have been. The reason some people cannot fathom my level of “strength” is that we have led different lives with different obstacles and maybe they’re right that I’ve had it harder than they have. That doesn’t change the capacity I believe humans to hold within themselves.
5. Keep sharing your story. You’re life is no less worthy of being heard than anyone else’s.
The second half of sophomore year shall be a new challenge that I’m ready to greet. I continue to share my experiences and I try to keep myself open and at the ready to receive any story that someone else is willing to share with me. Because the moments we share and the stories we hear makes our view of the world a little more rich and vibrant. Every story deserves to be heard.
If you have any tips that help you keep pity parties at bay, leave them in the comments!