I’m guessing all of us will know what it’s life to be blindsided by something in life. We all know how it goes when we prepare, then are caught off guard. When life throws us a curveball that we never saw coming. What do you do when that happens?
Being Prepared – Useful or Not?
I think there’s a degree of feeling in control that we get from trying to be prepared. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. In fact, I’m a big one for being prepared and it’s something I feel I need. I like to research, think things through, and be prepared, whether that’s for a day out or when it comes to dealing with my health. It’s logical and it’s sensible.
When we’re waiting for news or busy planning and preparing, it can be stressful and time-consuming. Think of all that time wasted, the anxiety and stress and worry you go through in trying to feel prepared and in control.
It’s ironic, because no matter how much you may have prepared, you can end up being totally unprepared when life throws you a curveball.
Curveballs can be anything, big or small. It’s when something happens in life you weren’t expecting, whether it’s news, an accident, mother nature, or some other random incident or turn of events you hadn’t prepared for.
You plan a long-awaited day trip to the smallest detail, but then the train gets cancelled, the restaurant you planned to visit for lunch is shut due to a power outage, and it rains on the way to the zoo.
You wait for a phone call at 10am, delaying doing anything so you can stick like glue to your phone. You get the call at 8pm or not at all and have wasted the whole day.
You try to live the healthiest life possible, denying yourself many things you want in order to be the picture of perfect health, then you get blindsided by news of a serious condition.
Ostomates may understand this one, when you change your bag before going out and think ‘good job’, it all seems good so you don’t have to carry your stoma supplies with you. Two hours later and it leaks and you’re regretting leaving your bags at home.
You spend hours planning for and fretting about a work meeting or health benefits appointment, only for it to be cancelled at the last minute.
You think everything’s going well, then learn it’s not. You think you’re prepared for something, but then something else happens and you’re suddenly caught like a deer in the headlights. Or like this cat.
Let’s not forget, some surprises that catch us off guard can be good. Other times, we have to try to find a silver lining, like how they can serve to teach us something, giving us the chance to grow and learn.
Bad News Curveballs
Sometimes these curveballs come when we’re waiting for news. You can spend a lot of time anxiously waiting, while life passes you by.
Receiving bad news can be painful curveball to take in your stride, even if you half expect it.
Before I had my stoma, I knew the situation was bad. But when I got the phone call and was told I was out of options, I still felt totally caught off guard. Then I get the dreaded can’t-not-cry syndrome coming on… I was a mess. I had thought through the worst case scenario, and yet I was still off kilter when I was told a stoma was the only route.
Whilst it’s hard to wait to hear news and try to plan a way forward, dealing with it can be harder than you anticipate, with emotions you hadn’t seen coming, no matter how much you tell yourself otherwise.
No matter how much you prepare yourself and try to steel your resolve, sometimes we need a break. We are only human, and with that comes great pains; frustration, anger, resentment, fear, confusion, sadness, loss, regret, concern, hopelessness. Experiencing all of these emotions is okay, you can deal with them; take your time, get some support, but don’t let them break you.
Prepare To Be Unprepared
Perhaps the best way to prepare in life sometimes is to acknowledge that you can’t always prepare for everything. And that’s okay. It’s okay to get emotional, to not cope as well as you think you should or as well as you feel others expect you to. You will cope with whatever it is you’ve been waiting for or whatever curveball comes out of left field, but sometimes the emotional response is inevitable and unstoppable. Don’t beat yourself up over being human.
However, I think there are also times we may put too much emphasis on being prepared. There are also a lot of things that are out of our control; instead, focus on the control you have over how you react to what happens to you and around you. Enjoy a little spontaneity when you can, and instead of rigidity, try to be more flexible. This is so important when those curveballs happen so you can change, adapt and ‘go with the flow’.
Remember – You can handle whatever comes your way. You’ve done it before. You’ve got this. You can hit it out the park, just have some faith in yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up if despite your best efforts things go wrong or you don’t cope with a change in plans or a curveball hits you hard. It’s life, and you do the best you can. That’s good enough. Try to come to a point of accepting there have been times you’ve been caught off guard, and that there will be many more of those times in the future. But you can handle whatever comes your way. You’ll still knock it out of the park, even if it takes a few swings.
Prepare yourself for being unprepared, and for being human.