I went paddling yesterday, on the perfect day to paddle; the sky was blue, the water was calm, and the company was excellent. As I paddled along in my kayak, without warning, I hit a rough current. It came out of nowhere; one minute I was dreamily and effortlessly paddling along, and the next I was struggling to keep up.
Resistance got harder, my confidence shook, my awareness was heightened. I felt the current push me away from where I wanted to go, because where I wanted to go was straight ahead; I was looking for this little beach where my family and I could stop and get out to enjoy our music (and some gin) we had brought with us. So while I struggled, I realized I had a couple of choices: I could give up, and let the current push my back from where I came, or I could push on through, and stay focused on the prize ahead of me.
I chose the latter; eventually, I did make it - I made it through the rough water to where it was calm again, and took a deep breath when I got there, proud of what I had accomplished (even if it seemed small to the stronger paddlers with me), and confident that I had overcome another challenge - this time with sore arms and a callous to prove it. We found the beach, enjoyed our gin, and it was better and more fun than I had even imagined - better than I could have planned, and was something I very easily could have missed, had I chosen to give up.
Sometimes our path is easy. Sometimes we feel like we are exactly where we need to be at exactly the right time. And sometimes on that path, we are met with challenges; those challenges aren’t always a sign that it’s time to give up and turn back. Often those challenges come as lessons, lessons to teach us how strong we are, to teach us the value of perseverance, to teach us how capable we are, even when our confidence is low.
When you are given one of those lessons, stop and ask yourself, “What is this teaching me? Why can I learn from this? How will I use this to help me move forward?” Because when you see the challenges in your life as a gift, your life gets better, more enriched, more purposeful, and allows you to carry on in the pursuit of the adventure we call living.
If you are someone hitting that kind of unexpected rough patch even with your heart and mind so clearly focused on getting what you want, don’t give up; remember that the road to where we’re going is the same road we’re travelling on, and every stop we make along the way plays a role in our education.
*Note: if your rough patch seems like it's a little rougher, or lasting a little longer than you are comfortable with, give yourself the permission to ask for help to get you through it and move beyond it. Sometimes it takes a second set of eyes to give you the perspective you need to get back on track.