Embracing the Suck: Finding Joy When Things Get Tough
Life at Wabash is hard, especially at this time of year. Students are preparing for exams and finishing up projects and papers. Seniors are getting ready to graduate and start the next chapter in their lives. Faculty have piles of grading. Staff members are logging long hours raising money, recruiting students, and helping us all succeed.
During these busy seasons, it is really easy to feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. Fortunately, most of the time these seasons only last a couple weeks and we push through until we find rest.
Think about how many times you’ve said, “I can’t wait to go on vacation,” or “Thank God that class is finished,” or “Things will be so much better when I get home,” or “Maybe I should transfer?”
Most of the time we associate joy or happiness with the absence of struggle. We think that life will become better once those obstacles are conquered.
The bad news is that those obstacles are never going to be conquered. Even when you feel like you’ve escaped the tough class, the bad breakup, the job you hate, or the tough medical diagnosis, it is almost guaranteed you will eventually find your way to another obstacle.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Wow, thanks Tyler. This is great. You’re telling me things are always going to be tough?”
And the short answer is yes.
But the longer answer is yes, *but*, you can find a way to embrace the suck and find joy in the midst of your struggle.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking the last few weeks about ways to find joy during the tough times.
Most everyone knows that I struggle with anxiety and depression, and I have for as long as I can remember (though I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe it when I was a child). The last few months have been really hard.
When life gets hard, I try and spend as much time with friends as possible. Friends are a coping mechanism that I’ve developed to help get my mind off worrying about depression and anxiety.
This time with friends can be both a blessing and a curse.
I am incredibly thankful for and appreciative of all the people I spend time with. You guys are awesome, and I wouldn’t be here without your love and support. However, I know that for the long term, I have to find happiness in who I am regardless of the time I get to spend with friends and family.
In order to find joy, I need to fix my desires on something more stable than friendships.
So, what I’m choosing to focus on right now (and what I hope you’ll focus on, too) is being thankful for the tough times. Because they have made me the person I am today.
Ben Stachowski, one of my best friends, gave an awesome Chapel Talk last week in which he quoted one of his high school teachers, saying that we should be thankful for “where we are, what we’re doing, and who we’re doing it with.”
Those words really hit home with me because, in the midst of my darkest days, I have an awful lot for which to be thankful. Including being thankful for struggling with depression and anxiety.
Without that struggle, and without opening myself up to talk openly about it, I might not have had the chance to get to know so many of you so well.
I am so thankful for people like Ben, Jordan Hansen, Keith Owen, Max Atkins, Parker Noll, Max Lawson, Hank Wannemuehler, Colten Garland, Harry Hallstrom, Zach Moffett, Sam Colaiacova, Jacques Boulais, Chris Keller, Heidi Carl, Jamie Douglas, Jim Amidon, Mike Raters, David Riggs, Ryan Hahn, Jimmy Thren, my parents, Abe Wade, and the list goes on and on.
You all have made my life so much better and I am eternally grateful for all the love and support you’ve shown along the way.
So, Wabash, I encourage you, find things to be thankful for, especially when things get tough. It is during those hardest battles where we forge the strength we will need for tomorrow.