As someone who has been through a fair number of trials and tribulations, I can tell you emphatically that life is unpredictable. That is to say, you never really know what lies around the corner waiting to test your resolve at any given moment.
The most common analogy for discussing difficult situations is to compare them to a storm. We are told to weather the storm, to be stronger than it, and some variation of the quote; “They whispered to her, you cannot withstand the storm. She whispered back, I am the storm” pops up on my Facebook feed a few times a year.
More often than not, the message is one of, “this too shall pass” and it absolutely will. Hardships rarely last forever, we all know this. Yet, when you are in the thick of things it never really feels like it, does it? It feels like the bad times will last forever, that the storm will rage on until it defeats us and were left as some sort of mangled pigeon, broken and unable to fly. The problem with waiting for the storm to pass is that you ultimately give up control and allow yourself to be held down by the rain. While you will never be in control of all aspects of your life, you can certainly claim control over some of them and choosing how you will weather the storm is definitely one of those things.
Time and time again, people ask a higher power to put an end to the storm. They ask for it to be over because they can not fathom the thought of yet another day of rain. They ask for someone or something to somehow just mystically put an end to whatever storm they may be facing. This is because society is primarily focussed around the notion of weathering the storm.
To weather the storm is to survive a difficult situation without being harmed or damaged too much. While this is certainly the goal of any such situation, to achieve it you actually need to pass through the storm first. Narrowly concentrating all of your energy on the end only leaves you hilariously unprepared to handle the storm while you are experiencing it.
This quote acknowledges that the trials we face fundamentally change and shape the person we become as a result of them. Will you be stronger? Will you grow? Will you simply survive and allow some of your spark to be extinguished? Or will you become that mangled pigeon on the side of the road because you refused to deal with the situation and merely prayed for it to end sooner rather than later?
In rare instances we are told that life is not about weathering the storm, but rather, learning to dance in the rain. I’m sorry, but this is just ridiculous. While it paints a nice image of frolicking care free amongst peacefully falling rain drops, it’s really not practical. If you are facing an exceptionally difficult time in your life and enjoying the ride… there are probably a few deeper psychological issues coming to light.
The concepts of dancing through the rain and weathering the storm both miss the point. Hard times typically don’t last forever, but sometimes it sure as heck feels like they will and if we have any hope of making it out of these prolonged storms we need to learn to ask for help. We need to equip ourselves with the tools and support that we need to not only survive the storm, but to actually step into the sun once its over.
I don’t need the storm to end, but an umbrella would sure be nice. Storms come and go, they end when they end. Sometimes we can’t control their durations, sometimes we can influence the end by actively working towards clearing away the clouds. But in order to do this we need to understand that there is no shame in asking for help when we need it first.
Asking for help does not make us weak, it does not mean we are trying to take an easy way out. It means that we are able to acknowledge our struggles and recognize that to make out of that struggle we may need tools that we can not always provide for ourselves. It means that sometimes, we need to learn to quit being so stubborn and ask for an umbrella.