There are three important life events that have impacted the way I view the world, how I view difficult situations, and why I am so focused on choosing contentment wherever I am. These experiences helped me to realize that life is most fulfilling when we make the choice to be present in everyday moments.
Patience and Consistency Pay Off
One of the most powerful events in my life was graduating from college with my bachelors degree. I had made it a goal from a young age to finish college, and when I got older I adopted a more challenging goal: I wanted to graduate early. Success in school came naturally to me (in everything except for math haha) and my inherently frugal nature loved the idea of saving money on college expenses. To achieve my goal to graduate early with a 4 year degree, I had to begin planning early. I took on difficult classes, participated in after-school programs, and committed myself to figuring out my intended emphasis. I walked onto that campus with several credits in hand, planned out all my own course schedules, changed majors only once, and finished in 3.5 years. I felt like a rock star.
In the end it was important to me, not because I saved the money on tuition, and not because I got a degree. It represented years of consistency, self-discipline, and patience that paid off. It was a test on the importance of remaining flexible and following through on goals, and I passed. Meeting that goal for myself, not to impress anyone else, was a key factor in proving that I can do awesome things if I set my mind to it.
Challenges Present an Opportunity to Grow
My first hugely impactful event was a knee injury. When I was 14 I decided to take a stab at learning to ice skate. One day I wiped out. Hard. My left knee was covered in a giant bruise and was sore for weeks. Eventually, however, the pain was hardly noticeable and I continued on with my life. I didn’t realize the damage I had done. For 3 years after that, I made small, subconscious alterations to my lifestyle to protect my damaged knee and I quit playing volleyball (which I loved with my whole heart.) More and more knee-related adaptations became a part of my normal life, and I didn’t realize that they were a problem until my senior year. At a yearly check up, I told my doctor that I had been experiencing activity-induced knee pain for a few years, but assured her that it was tolerable. Her confused and worried face is imprinted on my memory because that was the day I realized that there was a lot more to my injury than I had imagined. She hurriedly booked me an appointment for an MRI and my journey began.
Over the next 4 years, I had several knee surgeries attempting to repair a large broken and disintegrated piece of my knee and cartilage. They attempted first to use my own bone and cartilage to fill the hole, but there was too much damage. Their next proposed solution was to grow more cartilage in a lab, but there was too much of my knee missing. In the end, I was put on a list to receive a piece of knee bone and cartilage from a donor. I finally got the call for my final surgery in November of 2012. I received donor knee bone and cartilage the day before Thanksgiving and was back on my feet by the end of January 2013. I am now able to walk without pain and enjoy more freedom in my life again. I will never be the athlete I once was, but what I gained in character and determination is worth more to me now than any sports and activities I’ve given up.
Throughout that time I was given the chance to better understand the importance of family and unearned love. My parents, siblings, and eventually my husband (then boyfriend) all came together and took care of me when I couldn’t walk, when I was frustrated, and while I was healing. Their incredible love, kindness, and sacrifices are what carried me through some of the hardest and loneliest months and years of my life.
I also learned not to waste precious time imagining how different life would be if certain events didn’t happen. At some of my low points I found myself sobbing as I wallowed in regret over the seemingly harmless decisions I made at such a young age. I would get stuck in a cycle of “what if” and “if only” and it made recovery more lonely and difficult. I now believe that terrible things happen, but that they don’t always happen for a reason. I discovered that I have the choice to use both wonderful and terrible situations to grow as a person. My struggles throughout those years were not a punishment. They weren’t deserved. They were opportunities for me to choose between becoming a victim, and becoming a stronger version of myself. It wasn’t easy, but I chose to grow.
It’s Okay to Dream a Little
The third and most recent major life event, was in 2016 when I married the love of my life and my best friend. My husband and I met at a high school graduation party in 2011 and didn’t start dating until after I left for college. I’m too much of a realist to believe in love at first sight, but I can say with confidence that the day I met J I knew that he and I were going to be great friends.
Throughout the 3.5 years I was living across the state he was always committed to making our relationship a priority. Without his commitment, determination, understanding, and support, I don’t believe that I would be where I am today.
In July of 2014, the summer before my final semester in college, he asked me to be his wife. We were married on June 17th, 2016. He’s my very best friend, and I am so fortunate to spend every day with such a kind-hearted and incredibly loving person.
My husband has taught me to let go of some of my expectations and to allow myself to dream a little more. He encourages me to laugh when life feels overwhelming, and he helps to plan and follow through on the goals we have set for our marriage and our family. He challenges me to be a better person than I ever was alone.
He took me to Disney World! Read more about it.
Intentional Contentment: A Choice to Live in the Present
The phrase, “intentional contentment” encapsulates many of the lessons I have learned throughout my life. All three of these events, along with so many others, have made me who I am today. The people in my life, the difficulties I’ve faced, and my successes have shown me time and time again that I have the choice to make the most out of life and to be present in the cozy, everyday moments.