Life's letdowns don't faze us 97.5 percent of the time, but in those maddening instances when deep breathing and calm negotiating don't cut it, the only way to face your problem is to first tackle the watery emotions that come with it.
When you wake up with a creaky, piercing sore throat and your head's throbbing and a sick day is absolutely not an option.
When you've run out of ways to console your crying friend, there will be tears—yours. Fortunately, it's a universal law that within minutes, a "What the heck are we doing?" moment will be triggered—like when you both realize your wobbly, speaking-through-tears voices sound like a cross between Gollum and Honey Boo Boo—that will cause you both to dissolve into shaky laughter.
When you're utterly lost on the side of the road, your GPS has no signal, and there's no sign of civilization for miles.
When you realize that the one thing you felt absolutely certain about isn't certain at all. And you don't know what that means—for you or your future.
When—after months of training and coping with shin splints, blisters and bruises—you finally cross the finish line. It doesn't matter whether you've placed or if you stumbled across an hour after everyone else went home. Tears = massive sense of accomplishment and relief that you're somehow still alive.
When you're watching Les Miserables, Brief Encounter or Steel Magnolias, no matter how many times you've seen them. There is no other appropriate response.
Ditto for any movies involving animals, like My Dog Skip or Old Yeller.
When you get the diagnosis you never wanted to hear. Every scenario—especially the darkest, most painful ones you always pushed out of your mind before—starts playing in a rapid loop for the next few hours. When University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt learned she had Alzheimer's, she took the advice she's given her athletes for decades so she wouldn't tumble down a bottomless pit of what-ifs: "No one feels strong when she examines her own weakness. But in facing weakness, you learn how much there is in you, and you find real strength."
When you're standing at the airport baggage carousel after getting off an endlessly delayed plane and nobody seems to know what happened to your luggage. Further, while waiting at the conveyor belt, you notice everyone around you has their bags...and people greeting them with hugs. Also flowers. And chocolate? In that moment, it dawns on your jet-lagged, single self: Valentine's Day.
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