Live Through This

Ruining Your Life

What to do when the WORST happens.

Illustration by Lilli

The strange thing is, until the worst actually happens, it’s impossible to predict the shape that it will take. Everyone argues with their friends sometimes; it’s only when you get into that one, big, relationship-ending argument with your best friend that you realize losing her is an actual possibility. Rumors and mini-scandals are a part of high school life, like lockers and lunch periods—everybody’s got one—but it’s only when people start turning away when you say hello, when the flood of nasty emails hits your inbox or your Facebook wall, that you realize this rumor isn’t a small one, that you’ve been targeted for a complete and vicious shunning. And everyone’s parents have a particular arrangement and dynamic, and to be honest, I never really thought about the arrangement between mine, until my mother woke me up when I was 16 years old and told me that her “friend from out of town” whom I’d been asked to have dinner with the night before was going to be my new stepfather, and that her divorce from my current stepfather had been going on, quietly, politely, without my noticing, for months.

The worst happens to everyone, at some point. When I asked the other Rookies about it, I got so many stories: Failing a necessary course out of nowhere. Getting caught shoplifting. Living across the street from a crack house, with a roommate who steals your clothes, yells at you, and runs a borderline-illegal yoga studio out of your living room. Or having a roommate revenge-pee on your furniture. (A different roommate. WE THINK.) Or this: “All the girls in my sixth-grade class decided, as a group, that they hated me. Our teacher called a special meeting and ORDERED them each to name something they liked about me. A bunch of them were like, ‘I can’t think of anything; can you come back to me?’ My stomach still hurts when I think about it.’”

Waiting for the worst to happen is impossible, and always embarrassing, like trying to find your glasses when you’re already wearing them, or looking frantically for your keys when they’re in your hand. When the worst finally hits, you always realize that it was there, all along.

The good thing about this is that it’s a waste of time, waiting for something terrible to happen, or trying to predict what that terrible something will be. The bad thing, of course, is that when something does happen, you’ll know it, and it will not be within your power to stop it from happening.

So let’s assume the worst has already happened to you, at least once. That something terrible and beyond your control has already come down the pike; that you’re sitting here, reading this article, thinking that your life is ruined. Or even that you’ve ruined your own life. It’s not my business to say whether what’s happened to you is a big catastrophe, or a small one; whether you’ve had a falling out with a group of friends or lost a parent, it all feels huge while it’s happening. My business here today is the recovery end of it. No matter how big this feels, one of these days, you’re going to wake up in the morning, and you won’t be in a catastrophe anymore; you’ll be in your post-catastrophe life. It will have changed, but it won’t have to be horrible.

Besides being impossible to predict, and always feeling inevitable, the worst things—big and small—share a few other distinct factors, some of which are very helpful when it comes time to get up and move on.

For one thing, you’re about to find out who your friends are. When you’re sad and alone, it helps to think about this: happy, popular people are constantly surrounded by a bunch of folks who don’t actually like them very much. It’s not that those people are cruel to them, or that those people are two-faced or deceitful. (Well. Some of them may be, but it’s not really my business to decide.) It’s just that happiness and popularity and power are attractive to people who want to be happy and popular and powerful themselves. The textbook-y term for this is “social capital”: on the most basic level, people are more likely to be friendly if they believe you can help them get something, even if that “something” is just social status or more friends.

Which is all fine, but when you lose that social capital—when you’ve been made unpopular as the result of losing some friends or a social shunning, or when you’re going through something so difficult that the only person you can really afford to take care of is yourself—you lose those superficial relationships.

It’s not your fault, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. My best friend, for example, is one of the most naturally popular people I’ve ever met. She’s charming, and kind, and outgoing, and really fun, and people automatically and inevitably love being around her. She’s always had about a thousand people who want to spend time with her. But last year, she had a serious illness—not something lethal, but something which definitely incurred a lot of grossness and vomiting and deliriously high fevers. (She’s better now! Don’t worry!) It lasted for a long time, and it made her extremely tired, and she was also going to school throughout, so she couldn’t really pursue all her thousand different friendships in the way she wanted to. So some people dropped away. It wasn’t her fault for being sick, she’d done nothing wrong; it was just a case of losing some social capital.

But you’ll notice that I’m still referring to her as my “best friend.” And so are lots of other people. The relationships that last, through these hard times, aren’t the ones that are about getting something out of you. They’re the people who can hang with you when you’re having a panic attack, when you’re crying your eyes out, when you’re too tired to do anything but watch crap TV, when you’re just no fun at all. They’re the people who don’t just like you—they love you. By the time this is over, you’re going to know which friendships were conditional, and which ones to keep for the rest of your life. That’s a tremendous gift.

These deeper friendships are essential to the second part of this equation: figuring out what goodness you still have. No matter how total a catastrophe may seem to be—losing ALL of your friends, having to move to an ENTIRELY new city, trying something and failing at it and being so humiliated that you can NEVER try again (you can, and should, try again)—there is always something good left over. If you don’t have many friends right now, you might still have your art, your sport, whatever makes you feel like YOU (and, as it happens, a lot more time to practice). If your parents are getting divorced, you might still have your best friends. This stuff is essential to surviving a bad time.

When something awful happens, it’s often hard to focus on the remaining good factors in a situation. Awful happenings are so intense and overwhelming that they often command the majority of our attention. But it’s essential to look away from the catastrophe right now, to focus on the edges of the picture and away from the car wreck at its center, and see what’s there. By doing so, you can come to a whole new appreciation of what you want and need. When something awful and life-changing happens, the actual shape of your life becomes clear: you suddenly realize, out of the million different little factors that comprise Being You, which ones were essential to feeling good. This sounds cheesy—like, you just realize what really matters, you know?—but it’s not. Sometimes you only realize that something was essential to your happiness when it goes missing. Everybody hates their job, until they lose it, and then they’re broke.

This process is great, because realizing what you need is always great. If you need new friends, well, you now know which kinds of friends you don’t need, and you’ll be on the lookout for people who are nothing like the jerks who just dumped you. If you’re devastated because something you wrote is being made fun of, or you had a solo in the choir recital and flubbed it, suddenly you really do know how important it is to you to sing or to write well. And that kind of passion is what separates dilettantes from people who can devote their lives to a goal.

I used to be attracted exclusively to cool, smart, sarcastic, emotionally reserved, or troubled dudes that I had to chase—taking relationships seriously was so normal and boring and suburban, you know?—until I had my worst breakup ever, in which I lost my job, one of my two closest friends moved across the country, and this guy (whom I’d just moved in with) ditched me because I seemed depressed, and that was too much for him to deal with. It was awful. But after that, I knew that I did take relationships very seriously, and I wanted someone who wasn’t afraid to take them seriously, too—someone who wasn’t afraid to chase me, and to be emotionally expressive, even if that seemed uncool or sentimental.

And I got that. I got precisely that, in fact, from a friend who’d been around during the whole terrible breakup process, and we’ve been together for years, and I’m just absurdly happy. Like I say: when something terrible is happening and your life is changing, it pays to look for the good stuff in the picture.

Third, and finally, here’s the best part about ruining your life: you find out who you are.

When things are going well, you can take yourself pretty much for granted. That’s what happiness does: it lets you deal exclusively with the parts of yourself that you like and feel comfortable with. Happiness is like living in a big house, and only visiting a few big, sunny, well-cleaned rooms. That’s great; I’m not anti-happiness. Who could be? But, in the house of anyone’s mind or life, there are always rooms that haven’t been cleaned yet. Rooms that no one visits, places where junk is piled up and mice infest the floorboards and make nests out of old newspapers, dark and dim and unwelcoming inner places that everyone would prefer just to ignore.

When the worst happens, you have to visit those dark rooms. Like a teen in a horror movie, you just have to go down into the basement and see what’s hiding there. You get to know how you respond to stress, what grief feels like for you, and who you are when you’re consumed with anger. You have to visit feelings and aspects of your personality you’re not comfortable with; you have to (if you’ll let me stretch this particular metaphor to its breaking point) start cleaning up your junk.

But what you find can surprise you in some good ways. Maybe you’re resourceful in ways you’d never imagined. Maybe you have goals or needs or even good qualities that you’ve been ignoring; bad times have a way of showing those to you. Somewhere between my parents’ divorce when I was 16—that stepfather actually disappeared when it was over; I saw him twice again in my life, for five minutes each time—and my relationship with a dude who disappeared in part because he couldn’t be bothered to care for me when I was in need (and in part, let us be honest, because I am hell on toast when I’m upset; this is also an article about ruining your OWN life, after all), I found that I valued permanence and commitment and authenticity in relationships more than almost anything else in life. I’ve experienced a lot of unpleasant things, but what hurt me most was finding out that I had been wrong about how much people cared. But that’s what made me a good friend, and a sincere person: someone who could stick around for others during their own hard times, someone who would stick up for people or reach out to them when they were being bullied, and who would listen to people when they were lonely or afraid or stuck in a bad spot. I wouldn’t have known this about myself—and maybe I wouldn’t even have those qualities in the first place—had I not been through my own world-ending catastrophes.

You’ll never know what kind of a survivor you are until you have to survive something. Maybe you’re strong. Maybe you’re someone who can endure. Maybe you’re just incredibly good at staging comebacks, at arranging things so that you can make the best of a bad situation, and come out on top. You’ll never know, just like you’ll never know what really matters to you, or who your best friends are, until you’re called upon to live through a bad time.

When the worst happens, it’s always unpredictable, and strangely inevitable. But it’s only when the worst happens that you can discover the best in yourself. ♦

50 Comments

  • MissKnowItAll April 13th, 2012 3:06 PM

    This is great. I recently found out I have petit-mal syndrome and I;m learning to cope with it. Thanks a lot!

    • Abby April 13th, 2012 3:36 PM

      I’m glad that you’re learning to cope with it. I have mild Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and although it’s hard to cope with, I’ve learned to accept it as a part of me. Good luck!

  • moonchild April 13th, 2012 3:17 PM

    What do you think I should do if one of my friends is going through this? Actually, two of my friends just lost their moms (and they’re not sisters so… different moms) I don’t know how to act and what would be the most supportive thing to do. One of them was my best friend a couple years ago, but we’ve drifted apart so I don’t all of a sudden want to start being super LET”S BE FRIENDS FOREVER if you know what I mean… When I went to the wake, I awkwardly was like, I’M SO SORRY (I was almost crying) but I felt so cliche and unhelpful… Any advice? Thanks so much.

    Gwen
    http://under-a-bridge.blogspot.com/

    • Vesperstar233 April 13th, 2012 3:46 PM

      I understand what they’re going through because i lost my dad when i was two. I know i was young, but it’s defiantly something that effects your life. I never really had a friend that would be there for me on my dad’s birthday, or the anniversy of his death. I wish i did. Luckily i have my family. But for you friends, (especially the closer one), just tell her that if she needs anything call you. Really if i had someone who said that it would mean a lot. Hug her while she cries, and be positive but don’t try to make it seem like “you know what she’s going through”, sometimes that’s not the best advice. And as the article says, just stand by them through this rough time. Rookie is died on with that!! I wish I could tell you something more, give you better advice. I’m sorry that this probably didn’t help at all. But i hope it did… at least a little.

      • Cerise April 13th, 2012 5:03 PM

        This is right on. I lost my mom right before I started high school, and it was terrible. All I wanted was to be normal, but there were all these people who tried to treat me like I was some victim who might burst into tears any minute, or there were the people who would literally corner me and try to make me cry and tell them about my grief. They meant well, but it was torture. They made me feel defined by my grief. My friends–and certain other people–were pretty wonderful, though. They still had normal silly-stupid conversations with me, and we didn’t talk about my grief or anything if I didn’t want to, but they made it clear that if I ever did, I could come and find them. They helped me feel like another human being again. Just knowing they were there if I needed to cry or talk or get away was absolutely wonderful. I think that helped heal me in a way that nothing else could have.

    • lorobird April 13th, 2012 7:41 PM

      I agree with Cerise. My boyfriend has some bad things that happened to him in his childhood, and when he told me about them I had a hard time treating him like a strong, non-victim person… I wanted to mother him and pity him, let him cry on my shoulder and cry with him.

      But that is not nice in the long run. To get over things this hard, you need support in being a normal person, living a normal life, focusing on having fun and working hard for what you want.

      So I made the effort and treated him like normal, although I told him explicitly that if he ever wanted to talk about it, I was there. I never hide anything ‘sensitive’ from him (at his explicit request), and if he’s feeling down, after crying-time, I joke around and make him focus on something else (my utter hilarity, or a film, or a trip to the zoo).

      I think when someone you care about goes through something horrible, you always need to let them know you’re there for them if they need you. And that means treating them like the strong survivors they are.

  • Abby April 13th, 2012 3:32 PM

    Thank you. Just… thank you. I felt like my world was coming down around my feet when my sister tried to kill herself when I was in eighth grade. I thought that it was my fault for a really long time, and I still feel that way sometimes. But it’s gotten better, and it made me realize a lot. My sister and I fought a lot before, but now I know that I have to cherish every moment I have with her… and everyone else. Now, four and a half years later, she’s at college, going steady with a man she loves, and happy. And I am, too. Thank you again… this was just… amazing.

  • waesome April 13th, 2012 3:34 PM

    Kinda apt for a Friday the Thirteenth…

  • Narita April 13th, 2012 3:41 PM

    I’ve had to survive a lot and to me, it seems fair if I at least knew who I am. I lost my mom because of a sickness when I was ten, I’ve been in abusive foster family, I’ve been bullied in an extreme way and I still don’t know how I want to dress, what music I should listen to and who I should love. The whole identity thing seems like such a big deal for me. They say there comes sun after rain, but I think I’ve had enough rain to be drowned and kind-of live in Atlantis, where the sun never shines.

    • carlycarly April 13th, 2012 5:58 PM

      Hey Narita,

      Assuming you are a young girl, I think it’s brave to be able to write all of that. Acknowledge your ‘rainy moments’, and question what it all means. It’s unfortunate that you’ve have to go through these things, but I think it might help you in the future. Dealing with these really shitty things make you a stronger person, as cliche as that may sound. Well, not always – I mean, some people let these hardships consume them and don’t get past them. However, that’s a personal choice for everyone.

      Dress in what makes you happy, listen to music that allows you escape from the rain, and love whoever comes your way.

      I don’t want to make light of your situation, but remember, there are more people out in the world who are going through similar things. Just make sure you take your experiences, understand them, and learn from them.

    • anonymouse April 13th, 2012 6:02 PM

      Ya know, the whole identity thing, try not to think about it. No, really! :) The more you agonize over dressing the right way, loving the right people, listening to the right music; the more you think about it the more you think you’re doing something wrong.

      Research things that interest you, even if they’re things that are only a passing fancy, find out more about them, see if it goes anywhere. Honestly, you can’t force it, not for long anyway, not without someone finding out.

      It will happen. You will find yourself. And guess what? It will feel like the most natural thing in the world. Like it was you all along. Like the Sun’s rays finally pierce the ocean’s waves to get to you. :]

    • lorobird April 13th, 2012 8:13 PM

      Hey… are you okay now, in terms of personal safety? Do you want to talk to someone?

      It’s okay to reach for help, we all do it, we’ve all needed help at some point or another. Getting there alone is very brave, but it’s not an obligation :)

    • Samantha April 13th, 2012 8:28 PM

      Narita, love yourself first before you worry about loving anyone else. I know it’s hard – the world seems to be telling you left and right that you aren’t worth it, but IGNORE IT.

      You are totally worth it – that’s obvious from just a few sentences. And we can all see it.

      Love yourself for being able to express your sorrows. Love yourself for not drowning yet. Love yourself enough to keep swimming – it will get better. Love yourself enough to create hope when it seems like there isn’t any.

      You’ll be in my thoughts this weekend. I hope something good happens for you.

      http://poorgoop.com/

  • Vesperstar233 April 13th, 2012 3:50 PM

    This article was amazing Rookie! You’ve out done yourself, once again. Coming from someone who lost a parent when i was young, needing a friend to stand with you through this hard time is really essential. Something like that is so, so, so hard, and unbelievably sad. You never forget, and the pain never goes away, but it does get easier. You go on, and you learn, grow and become stronger from it. I love ya rookie!! <33

  • aliceee April 13th, 2012 3:57 PM

    Reminds me of something I read today in Anne Frank’s diary, that you never really know a person until you go through an ugly, horrible fight with them.

    Whenever something like this has happened to me, no matter how much it hurt or for how long, every bit of happiness afterwards feels amplified, just because I’ve gone so long without it. Not that it’s necessarily worth the pain, but on the other end there is a sort of joy you can’t find any other way.

  • FashionHauties April 13th, 2012 3:58 PM

    This is such a great article. Yet another one I will refer back to!
    http://fashionhauties.blogspot.com/

  • MissKnowItAll April 13th, 2012 5:09 PM

    Hey guys, sorry this is totally irrelevant but I wrote a few songs and I really need some feedback. If you can read them and tell me what you think, I would totally love you for it!
    http://figment.com/books/301929-Give-it-a-rest
    http://figment.com/books/303352-Insane
    http://figment.com/books/304141-Hold-your-hand
    -Thanks a bunch!

  • Planet Liquid April 13th, 2012 5:21 PM

    So, so beautiful!!!! I really can relate to this. Two years ago, I would never share my opinion because I was afraid of what people would think. Then, a few “friends” beat me up and now my nose is irrecoverably misshapen. After that I learned to always say what I think because if they want to hate, they will, no matter what I do. Thank you very much, Rookie!

  • MissKnowItAll April 13th, 2012 5:29 PM

    Happy Friday the 13th!

  • lilghostie April 13th, 2012 5:34 PM

    this article was really just what i needed right now. i’ve been going through a really bad drawn out breakup with a long term boyfriend and suffering from really severe anxiety along with that all my best friends are really far away (like other countries far away) so it’s hard to find someone i can really rely on. i know i have to get myself better and need to start realizing that but this article was a good push in the right direction. perfect timing rookie!

  • crimsonlips April 13th, 2012 5:35 PM

    I got fired from my job three months ago today. Reading this makes me feel better and reminds me that I am a better person for having lived through it. I don’t have a new job yet, but I have hope that I will find something better in the end (like teaching English in Korea maybe).

  • Sassyla April 13th, 2012 6:20 PM

    This could not hace come at a more appropriate time for me.This week I had to sit down with my parents and explain that in order to save my GPA I needed to drop all of my classes from this semester and just start from scratch next fall. The semester had been a total wash after the death of my grandfather three months ago despite my best efforts to pull everything back up, my course load was mostly complex lab experiments that just couldn’t be redone. I was panicing and in a total shame spiral over my academic failure and the fact that my parents had already payed for the semester in full and they were most likely only going to get half of that money back. My parents completely surprised me by a) not freaking out and b) by saying the money thing was no big deal if this meant that I would no longer be walking around like a sleep deprived zombie and losing large clumps of my hair. Dropping out of classes is literally THE WORST THING I HAVE EVER HAD TO DO EVER IN MY WHOLE SPAZZY LIFE, and my parents showed their true selves in my first ever time of crisis by being awesome xs a million. I still feel awful, I still have no idea what I’m supposed to do for the next five months, my best friend is still in the dark about the whole situation, and I’m nearly catatonic with anxiety over what my abandoned lab group must be saying about me in class these days, but this morining I brushed my hair and for the first time in three months I didn’t pull half of my hair out. This article has articulated every feeling, fear, and anxiety, so thanks Sady. :)

    • andrea April 13th, 2012 10:14 PM

      your parents are the best!!! good luck girl and may the force be with you :)

  • fung-eyed April 13th, 2012 6:33 PM

    Man, today is a WORST DAY EVER for me. I am supposed to go to India soon, and I can only go if I have my visa, and I just found out it’s totally missing. Because My package DID NOT require a signature. TIP! If you are getting something delivered that’s IMPORTANT, make sure a SIGNATURE is required. boo. (but I am happy to be alive so I guess that’s somethin (!))

    • MissKnowItAll April 13th, 2012 6:37 PM

      Aww that sucks. When I went last summer, it took forever to get my grandma’s visa approved. Good Luck!

  • kitafee April 13th, 2012 7:13 PM

    Ah this article is perfect, also great timing! i’ve recently been diagnosed with depression and there’s a possibility there’s also something wrong with my pancreas, which sucks as just 2 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer!!

    Having to go through this all again seems really tough, but I have amazing friends and will get through this i hope.

  • tinklebot5000 April 13th, 2012 7:14 PM

    I LOVED this article. It was so honest and well-written :) I loved the analogy of the house with the clean rooms and the messy rooms!!! <3

  • Ouija April 13th, 2012 7:18 PM

    I love this

  • anisarose April 13th, 2012 7:56 PM

    I’ve been feeling bad for myself pretty often recently and most of it is because of school. I don’t have much in common with my friends, it’s clear that I won’t get a prom date, and my grades are much lower than they used to be. What I have to remember is that I have it good. My family is fine, I have so many things working in my favor, I got into a great summer program, and my hair is (very slowly) getting out of that awkward stage between a pixie cut and a bob. Also, I’ve learned that everyone has problems. Even that perfect girl who sits across the room with the best clothes, the best hair, and a bunch of friends has issues. We try to hide them from our peers but deep down, they’re there.

    Also, can I get some credit for posting a blog URL and not just writing “cool idea!” or something like that? Am I the only one who is bothered by people who do that all the time?

    http://anisarose.blogspot.com/

  • Jamia April 13th, 2012 8:16 PM

    Thank you Sady–for giving me and many others hope that we really will “live through this” xx

  • fishintheC April 13th, 2012 8:59 PM

    Such an amazing article. It’s surprising how even when you’re mid-way through your teens, or earlier, things happen that make you look into yourself and deconstruct everything in your life. I think the things we go through when we’re still kids as opposed to when we get up to 16 or 17 aren’t much different: family issues, friends splitting up, being sad. But the level of awareness you have when you’re older is incomparable, and that means you can take control of your life; even if you’re in a horrific situation. I realized this in my junior year (this year) of high school. Life can be tragic or just mildly unsatisfying for different people, but really the situation itself has nothing to do with your own happiness. It’s everything to do with how you and your brain and your heart sort things out.

  • andrea April 13th, 2012 10:11 PM

    this is the second time that i read something that is actually going on right now, i can remember the last time i feel that world was ending for me i was 16, i was moving/ending school/leaving people i use to be friends with (and a boy i used to like)/ going trough my grandad illness and searching for my future career (really didnt now what to study) but i grew over that, i learn so much and gain a lot, i know this time it will be ok too, but i know it because of the first bad experience, things will be good :)
    thanks so much for this!!!
    andrea.
    http://www.eraseandread.blogspot.com

  • atticus April 13th, 2012 11:02 PM

    I automatically thought of losing a president position I’ve been working for for the last three years when I thought about my “worst thing”. This article made me realize my inability to make the best out of the situation. What I admire about Sady is she learned something and improved herself. My “worst thing” taught me I am a cynical, disrespectful person that has ruined my relationship with authority figures. Once I realized this flaw, I understood that it translated to other aspects of my life. I’ve pushed away dear, dear friends. This could be a prime “I was able to turn my life around” college essay spiel. Not get upset with my flaws, but really reevaluate and fix myself. But me not being about to fix what’s fundamentally wrong with me makes me question who I am as a person. If I were someone else, I wouldn’t like me. And I hate feeling like this. HELP ROOKIEMAGERS, HOW DO I FIX MY FLAWS AND LIKE MYSELF AGAIN?

    • Peanutpug April 14th, 2012 7:54 AM

      I can relate to you a little bit. There were so many times that I wondered how I honestly had any friends; I thought that I wasn’t a good person, not funny enough, not nice enough, too selfish, too boring too self-absorbed etc etc. I gradually overcame this by trying to figure out something about myself that I genuinely liked and focusing on this trait. With regards to not being nice enough, I tried to change, to become the kinder person that I wanted to be. It’s not easy. Dont get me wrong, I am far FAAAAAAR from perfect, but my self-worth is a lot higher now as a result. I am not trying to tell you to change who your entire being, because I am sure that you are really a great person! :) Just know that it is possible to make subtle changes that can make you a whole lot happier. Sometimes it can take a life-changing event to shock us into change. x

    • girlhero April 18th, 2012 2:54 PM

      just the mere fact that you can recognize a personal flaw without getting extremely upset tells me that you’re a strong, smart person. it also tells me you know that there is more for you to learn, about yourself and everything, and that is quite the opposite of cynicism.

      I have struggled with intense self-criticism, and like any criticism, it can be both constructive or harmful, depending on its nature. it’s good you’ve recognized something you find unfavorable, and it’s good that you want to make the effort to change it.

      first off, you’ve accepted the flaw. that’s it, you’re done with that part. DO NOT relentlessly berate yourself for your past actions or behaviors. that’s only counter-productive. instead of thinking about yourself, and things YOU can do to change YOU, it is time to start thinking about the people around you.

      open up wide and take in your world. let people pour into you and LISTEN to them hard. this is most important: listen to everyone you know. they will appreciate it more than anything, and you will, without realizing it, be changing so much in the process. you will be learning how not alone you are. you will be enjoying the happiness of others and mourning for their pains. you will be learning more about who you want to be and how to be that person. you’ll start to feel really good about yourself.

      instead of looking so deeply inside yourself that you bore holes, look outside yourself, because the world is a glowing, colorful expanse. ✿✿✿

  • morgenstern April 14th, 2012 3:36 AM

    I just registered to comment on this article.
    First of all, I’m German and out of practice writing anything in English. Sorry for any mistakes!!
    I think this article is pretty great – but for me, personally, there misses one big aspect of surviving bad times and/or worst situations ever. What about those incidents happening to somebody when he is still too young to cope, or generally events which are impossible to survive in a “healthy” way? Sometimes problems accumulate in a way it’s impossible to really deal with them anymore… There are some reasons some people might develope PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which leads to lots of complications and suffering.
    Me, for example, I am 27 years old now, suffering from child abuse and quite a lot other bad “circumstances” for about my whole life. Just began to recover in hospital (for the last five months) and now trying to pursue that healthy way.
    I absolutely agree with Sady about lots of possibilities to develope as a human being resulting from major negative life events. Just want to add the thought that sometimes, it’s ok to not be able to heal without professional help, lots and lots (like literally forever) of time and the help of your loved ones. BUT that it’s nonetheless possible and worth healing!!

    • Abby April 14th, 2012 5:15 PM

      I’m glad you’re getting better :). My sister has PTSD from abuse when she was a child, and she is still recovering at 20. Professional help was definitely what did it for her… she found a really good psychologist who was earthy and spiritual like her, and it really helped her. Good luck to you in all you do!

      <3, Abby

  • Flower April 14th, 2012 7:59 AM

    the situation described in the first paragraph is EXACTLY what I’m going through at the moment; nasty wall posts, bitchy emails, getting ignored. yet another instance of rookie reading my mind. thank you so much for this!
    flower
    http://www.bobblyrainbowsocks.blogspot.com

  • apb April 14th, 2012 9:22 AM

    this article could not have come at a better time. thank you

  • Killjoy April 14th, 2012 10:23 AM

    I immediately thought of losing the school spelling bee that I studied so many months for because I misspelled an easy word that I knew how to spell. TT_TT I was really sad but eventually I got over it. When the worst happens you gotta move on…

    • Abby April 14th, 2012 5:16 PM

      Awww, little kid sadness! This made me smile, and then feel bad… sorry, ha.

  • moonflower April 14th, 2012 12:02 PM

    I just typed out a huge paragraph, but then deleted it because I was probably babbling, this is basically pretty much what I was trying to say:

    When something bad happens, don’t succumb to this, you are of COURSE allowed to be upset, as much as you like, its only healthy and human. -But there WILL be a way to to solve or at least make your problem less painful. I have been in some serious trouble lately which is kinda personal, but I have experience of this kind of thing. I can honestly say the best thing to do is surround yourself with good genuine people, and do what you know you need to do. Oh, and there is always, always hope. :)

    http://ultravioletpixiedust.blogspot.com

  • eliza dolittle April 15th, 2012 6:03 AM

    “I’ve experienced a lot of unpleasant things, but what hurt me most was finding out that I had been wrong about how much people cared.”

    no matter how much of a cluster fuck life can be, this was always the thing i found hardest to bear. wonderfully put.

  • shelley April 16th, 2012 11:29 AM

    This was really what I needed. Reading this makes me feel a bit selfish, cause other people have had real problems, but mine is just starting university. Before I left I had so many different groups of friends and I was so happy. Now I’m very lonely and feel like I’ve become a more boring person to hang out with. I think I was expecting too much from university. But reading about how the worst things bring out the best in you made me realise that I’m more independent than ever, and that I’ve managed to cope without my family and friends from home in a new city.

    http://shelleycatcat.tumblr.com

  • rhymeswithorange April 16th, 2012 6:32 PM

    THANK YOU! I found out today that I’m failing math. On the other hand, I have As in everything else. Just another opportunity for me to get stronger.

  • sinclair April 16th, 2012 11:18 PM

    This is so right on. It takes a disaster to find out how strong you are.

  • girlhero April 18th, 2012 2:19 PM

    beautiful.

  • Freedom April 19th, 2012 7:13 PM

    This article has extraordinary timing. I’m going through a ‘my life is ruined’ interval that’s dragged out for a solid year and half, nearly two.

    I’d also like to point out that for some, the process of life ruining can even be a gradual process and the endeavor to clean the metaphorical room can be proportionate to the amount of time it took to get messy. Only time can reveal what’s through the disarray, for sure. To all my fellow people who are going through such a time: Gloves on and get scrubbing!

    Great article, Sady, and thank you. Your article (as well as all the articles on this site) are so uplifting and relevant to my experiences. They all resonate with me and make my world appear a lot less bleak. Thank you Rookie Mag!

  • lelelikeukulele April 22nd, 2012 10:08 PM

    Posts like this are why I love Rookie. I would have loved to read this a few months ago when I actually had a “life ruined” experience, but reading it now, it still rings incredibly true.

    When my best friend/boyfriend broke up with me this year, I heard a lot of “Look on the bright side, you’re in college and you’re single and young and yaaaaay!” types of comments. Looking on the bright side is not always simple or easy or doable. But articles like this show that there IS a bright side whether you look for it or not.

    For instance, I’ve had to learn to stand on my own and to cope with someone who’s been a huge part of my life for over four years suddenly deciding he didn’t want me in his life anymore. I’ve learned that sometimes I can’t deal with things on my own, and that there’s nothing wrong with sobbing on a friend’s shoulder when you really need to. I’ve also learned that I need to be honest with myself about what I really want out of life, and that when I eventually love again, it’s gotta be with someone who loves the real me instead of just putting up with me. I’ve grown a thicker skin in that I don’t let bad things people say about me affect me as much, because I know that I can handle a best friend saying bad things about me, so why should I care what random nobodies say?

    I have also learned that when you’re sad and lonely you should definitely not watch reruns of Grey’s Anatomy all the time…heh.

  • ewoin May 22nd, 2012 5:04 PM

    This is awesome. Truly.
    This year has been very difficult. I lost my grandma, my parents almost divorced, it was horrible. Horrible. And it was so difficult to look past the awful stuff and find strength and courage, and reading your text just made me realize that the people that have most importance and meaning to me, today, have become so because of their ways of dealing with my pain and with helping me cope. And I discovered a lot of stuff about myself, and reading this made me connect to it so much. Thank you. I am now a fan. :)