This I Believe

Dru - Reading, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 20, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: setbacks
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It was the only time in my life I had ever broken a bone. I was riding a four-wheeler up a mountain with my friend, when part of the rear seat-guard broke off, sending my foot under the rear tire and breaking my ankle.

Yes, this was a pretty miserable situation. My friend and I were stranded on a mountain, hobbled by my bum ankle in the late afternoon of a chilly day, so I was obviously sour. Now, you might ask, “What was the lesson you learned from this situation?” And you might think that this lesson would be that I would be more cautious the next time I decided to go mountaineering via four-wheeler, but it was not. The lesson I learned that day would be reinforced continuously throughout my life: the best way to handle a difficult situation is to make the best of it.

We didn’t make it back off the mountain until nightfall. It is easy to imagine that the trip back down the mountain was a grueling trek, but it was not. Yes, it was painful and tricky, but it was not as difficult as I had expected. My friend kept me entertained and in high spirits by making light of the situation and harassing me about my gimpy one-legged maneuvers as we traveled back down the path. While his actions seem simple enough, they made the situation much easier to handle.

This one example may not be the most dramatic embodiment of my belief, but of my personal experiences, it is the most relative. This one story is also not the extent of my belief; this mindset can be adopted in many situations. I am often confronted with situations where my first emotions might dictate that I complain or pity myself, but these are not effective or enjoyable methods of dealing with these difficult situations. Often times, they are counterproductive and can taint the attitude of not just myself but those around me.

Rather, I like to handle difficult situations with a humorous approach that avoids overreaction. Confronting situations with the “It could always be worse” attitude always gives me a positive perspective on the circumstances. When I broke my ankle on the mountain, I was thinking, “I could have broken both of my ankles during a hail storm.” And when I think like this, it eases the overflow of negative emotions that tend to spill forth when a troubling situation arises.

I have had days in my life when I didn’t receive the grade I wanted on a test, or I performed below expectations in a sporting event; days when I felt completely inept in a work environment, and days that I felt that I made irreversible mistakes. My first assessment of these situations used to be bleak and doubtful. But as I have matured, I have begun to assess and handle these situations in a more positive light, finding that hard times are made easier with a light attitude.