How Your Crisis Begins & Ends

When I was 22, my Dad passed away on the same day I had my final exam at University. The night before, I arrogantly posted to Facebook the following cringe-worthy reflection on the end of my University career:

“The end is just the beginning. Bring it on, life!” - April 20, 2011

...Not thinking life would take me quite so seriously. This was the beginning of my crisis, which would involve, over the next 8 years, an alcohol fuelled fun spiral of random sex, 6AM party girl panic attacks, and haphazardly managing to hold down a lukewarm job while struggling to muster the courage to embrace-prioritize my ‘spirit’ voice.

That voice that is not just a writer, or just an artist, or an entrepreneur, or a party girl, or an introvert at heart. It’s the voice that is fluid; the voice that, like water, has no one true form but will fill any space.

All of us, at one point or another, have a ‘breaking’ moment. It’s the point where your identity clearly breaks and what used to be ceases to, well, be. It could be the loss of a loved one, a break up, a falling out, the loss of sight or limb or job, or maybe your kid just moved out of the house for good.

Whatever it is, it’s how your crisis starts. How your crisis ends is by realizing it’s not a crisis at all.

I was not prepared for my crisis. I began to think everything was pointless and couldn’t understand how there was a life beyond losing my dad.

I felt like I was living a version of my life that wasn’t supposed to be, and although I don’t outright regret any of the choices I made and appreciate the friendships and opportunities to test my boundaries, I know that if I had focused more energy on my creative career instead of dancing on tables covered in glitter, I might be a little further along.

What I have learned through my twenties, and with the help of various meditation techniques, is the universal truth that all things can happen to anyone. The best any of us can do is prime ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually to experience both extreme pleasure and pain.

What I mean by that is: (1) we collectively need to understand that good and bad things are equally likely to happen. If we can think or imagine it, or other people have experienced it, it could just as likely to happen to us; (2) feeling in your body the complex emotions and chemical reactions that surface giving you even more information about yourself and the scenarios you are in; (3) having faith that while you have no idea how things will turn out, the effort you put into your present action will only lead to a better life in the future.

While I am certain that I will have more heartbreaks and obstacles similar to my 22 year old self, I am also certain that having had the hands-on experience of the first time has provided me with the best damn tool-kit to regenerate after the dust settles.

Crisis is only a crisis if you are not prepared; otherwise, it is purely an opportunity to become a more complex, deeply-feeling, empathetic version of you - and that sounds like someone we’d all like to hang out with. 

HOMEWORK:

  1. Think of a time when all the chips were down. How did you overcome that situation? Knowing what you know now, could you handle the same setback?

  2. Listen to On Being With Krista Tippett: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant: Resilience After Unimaginable Loss

Arianne Tong3 Comments