I once knew a young woman whose father was an internationally recognized scientist. She was a college student, working part-time in the research laboratory where I came to know her, and I was impressed by her intelligence and work ethic, but soon began to see that she was putting a lot of pressure on herself--no doubt because she was trying to live up to somebody's expectations. Whether they were her father's or her own, I never did learn.
One day she came to work obviously distraught, and I asked her what was wrong. Practically in tears, she told me she'd just gotten back an exam that had earned a B. Now this was many years ago, when a B was considered a very respectable grade and A's were harder to come by. Furthermore, it was only an exam, not a semester grade, so an A for the semester was still a realistic possibility. We talked for a while, and I asked her how she thought that B would impact her life five or ten years from then. Her eyes widened as she realized it would have absolutely no effect.
In the years since, I've observed friends who have been crushed by disappointments that led them into a period of depression while other people took similar blows in stride. I came to the conclusion that the difference was whether
they took a long-term or a short-term view of life. Fact: Life is not a bowl of cherries! It is a long journey during which both good and bad things happen--sometimes extremely bad things, and it's unrealistic to expect otherwise.
When our first child was stillborn, I remember thinking that, although I was only 26, I felt a hundred years old, and I would never be able to laugh again. There is still a pain in my heart for that lost child, but I have since experienced many years filled with joys and satisfaction along with some pretty big bumps in the road of life.
A few years ago, I spoke with a young woman who told me that she and her husband had lost a job, a pregnancy and their home in a matter of months. Shocked, I asked her how they were coping. She replied, "Well, things are really rough right now, but we're still young. We'll get through it." They were taking a long-term view.
It's important to know that there are millions of people who have gone through and survived whatever pain you're experiencing, that there is help available if you're not too proud or too stubborn to seek it, and there are plenty of people out there who care.
Stephanie Kay Bendel is the author of EXIT THE LABYRINTH: A Memoir of Early Childhood Depression – Its Onset and Aftermath, MAKING CRIME PAY: A Practical Guide to Mystery Writing, and A SCREAM AWAY, a romantic thriller published under the house name, Andrea Harris. She has also written numerous short stories and articles on writing.