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Lessons on Processing Life's Extremes: 5 Personal Tips for Navigating the Highs and Lows

Picture this: after years of relentless dedication, juggling a full-time job, raising two spirited kids, and staying up late to work and study, my wife and I finally achieved our dream of graduating together with our doctorates. Cue the confetti, right? Well, not quite.

The day after sporting our caps and gowns and crossing the stage together, I found myself driving up to Georgia, not for a victory lap, but to bid a bittersweet farewell to one of my family's beloved matriarchs, my aunt. In the span of 24 hours, I went from the pinnacle of success to the depths of sorrow, grappling with the juxtaposition of celebration and mourning.

[Sidenote: I recently heard the word juxtaposition in a podcast and had to look it up. I couldn’t wait to use it.]


But that's the thing about life – it doesn't pause for our accomplishments or our losses. So, with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, I turned my sights back home, where multiple emails and messages awaited, demanding my attention for an upcoming work event.

And just like that, I found myself thrust back into the whirlwind of responsibilities, with barely a moment to catch my breath. No time to bask in the glory of our achievement, no time to grieve properly, just a relentless march forward.

Lessons Learned: The Importance of Processing

So, what did I learn from this whirlwind of experiences? Well, for starters, I learned the importance of taking time to process. Whether it's celebrating our successes, mourning our losses, or simply catching our breath, carving out moments for reflection is essential for maintaining our sanity in an otherwise chaotic world.

You see, processing isn't just about accepting the moment and moving on; it's about fully immersing yourself in the moment, soaking up every ounce of the experience. It's about acknowledging the journey, the successes, the hurdles you overcame, and the lessons you learned along the way.

Amidst my chaos, there were moments of beauty – moments of connection, of love, and of profound gratitude. As one of my favorite quotes says, “For in the end, it's not just about the destination; it's about the journey that shapes us into who we are.”

"I'm a perpetual work in progress... and not ashamed to say so!"

I am still working through the stages of processing everything that has happened in my life over the last few weeks. One of those steps includes reading through all the messages of support and congratulations because I (we) accomplished something great. This is likely one of the highest moments of social media engagement I’ve ever experienced. I don’t take this lightly, and I deeply appreciate everyone I’ve connected with for showing up for me during this monumental moment in my life.

A significant step in my processing journey involves showing a more vulnerable side of myself. I've often compartmentalized my experiences, focusing primarily on the positives. However, I'm now embracing a broader perspective, which includes opening up and sharing my story in its entirety with all of you through this blog post.

If you're interested in knowing the different stages of my processing, I'll outline them below. I hope my story encourages and inspires you to take the time to process your life experiences, as that is where wisdom truly emerges.

Stay encouraged and remember that the ability to process our experiences is a blessing in itself.


The Journey of Processing

My personal stages for processing are unique to me, and I believe that everyone's journey is similarly individual. What works for me might not be the perfect fit for someone else, and that's absolutely okay. Here's what I've found to be effective in my own experience.

  1. Acknowledgment: Carve out time for processing, recognizing, and coming to terms with the situation, circumstances, and emotions from the experiences.

  2. Reflection: Taking time to understand and make sense of my feelings and thoughts.

  3. Expression: Finding ways to express what I've been through and how I feel, whether through writing, talking, or other outlets.

  4. Acceptance: Embracing my experiences with self-compassion and a positive mindset.

  5. Sharing: Opening up and sharing my experiences and journey with others.



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