inspirational quotes are not my favorite thing.

“You can’t appreciate the rainbow without getting through the storm.”

“When one door closes, a window opens.”

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

God, those sayings are trite. They make me cringe, and they make me roll my eyes. They make me want to find the Hallmark card writer who came up with these sayings and ask them bluntly, “Do these sayings actually work for you?”. How do people find peace in these words–these vague, blase sayings that are simultaneously enraging and mind-numbing? I hate those sayings, I hate them.

But for the month of August, they were pretty much the only things I could tell myself.

The first week of August, I had issues at work and my mom had a stroke. The second week of August, I lost my promotion at my job at no fault of my own. It was a rough couple of weeks.

I felt lost and discouraged, I felt betrayed and scared. I couldn’t believe that my mother was actually not immortal like I had thought my whole life–her time on earth is fragile and in balance, just like everyone else’s. I couldn’t believe that a job and a career that I had poured my heart into meant nothing to the mentors that led me in that field, and that my feelings and experience was just as disposable as the other teachers that have come & gone. I couldn’t believe that damned saying of “When it rains, it pours” was being applicable to my own life, a livelihood that was supposed to be creative & poetic, not full of boring catchphrases self-help gurus mutter to make their paying customers feel better.

And yet, here I was, stuck in this weird purgatory of not wanting to freak other people out, because I didn’t want to freak myself out. If I could smile and say “Oh, my mom is doing just great! She actually had the best kind of stroke you can have, isn’t that a hilarious phrase?” and start applying for jobs like I had the world’s most incredible credentials, I could avoid the impending doom rain cloud that hovered as I trudged to my job with a deep sadness and called my mother every day, holding my breath until she answered and proved that she was okay.

So that’s what I did.

I called my Momma every day and told her I loved her. I listened to her new health routine & encouraged her to be positive, and how to remember her strength. I looked and researched and found jobs that best suited my skill set and interests. I leaned on my partner, my incredible beacon of strength, who guided me with encouragement and love (I will never have the right words to thank him for everything). My friends text me about jobs, they e-mailed me opportunities, they all showed up and stood up for me, and for that I am eternally grateful. I went to dance class and let the stress melt off. I went to Colorado and saw my best friend get married.

And somewhere in between all that, the clouds passed.

I got a new job, and not just a new job–a new career. A new position where I am excited and feel honored to go to every day. A place that respects its employees, with folks who work hard, and play hard. Co-workers that say “You’re doing a great job!” and give me new experiences, and give me support when I need it. I never knew this fantastic work environment wasn’t a bizarre concept, but now that I’m here, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I feel fortunate and ecstatic.

My Momma is doing so much better. Like, unbelievably better. Like, holy-shit-did-you-really-have-a-stroke-two-months-ago better. I am in awe of her progress and resilience, and in this way shows me that the reason I can truly believe in the good the world has to offer is because of her–my Momma shows me every day that we can overcome all the challenges life throws at us through bravery, community, and trust that things will turn out for the best.

So, I still hate those sayings. I hate that when my friends are hurting, they are the first things that pop into my head as comfort. I hate that when I want to lift myself up, those boring words are what I impulsively remember. However, there’s a reason why those words resonate so strongly–from the melodramatic, angsty artists to the hyperactive, organized leaders, from the desperate, rejected twenty-something to the brave, wise mother. The words are true, and they are comforting because of their truth. You can get through the storm, you can open all the windows, you can dance in the rain. The words are interchangeable and lame, but the sentiment is strong and absolute–you can survive anything. Not only can you survive, but you will. It may not be easy, and it may not be fun, but the rewards, grace, acceptance, joy, relief, and bounty of celebration that comes with the shit leaving the fan after it hits and life coming back to normal (or better than normal, in many cases) is immeasurable and indescribable. Maybe there isn’t a cheesy greeting card that can fit all that emotion inside, but there is a time where you will feel it.

And when it happens, you won’t need words or sayings. You’ll just feel fulfilled.

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