For some reason I felt the need to write this down and share it. I don't know... maybe to help me remember when times aren't as easy as I'd like them to be.
This morning, my son came downstairs dressed as he normally would for school. Jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt. He looked presentable, but today he is going to sing Christmas carols at the local nursing home with his classmates so I asked him to please change into a nicer shirt. I didn't ask for an entire wardrobe change, just a shirt. Nothing more, nothing less.
I brought him the shirt and he grumbled the whole time he was putting it on. "I don't like it." "It makes me feel cold." "Can't I just wear my other shirt?" "Why do I have to wear this?"
Maybe it was the fact that my daughter had also just told me she doesn't like the toaster strudels we have because they are strawberry and not her favorite raspberry flavor, but I sort of lost it. I went on a rant for a few minutes about the difference between disliking something and it simply not being your favorite. There IS a difference. Just because something is not your #1 top pick does not mean it is no good. In a nutshell, this is what I told them:
Here's the thing... You're not always going to be comfortable.
You're not always going to have your favorite thing to eat. People aren't going to always laugh at your jokes. You're going to hear and see people do things that make you squirm. In a lot of cases, those people will be people you love and admire. Some days will be just a little too warm for you. Some days will feel too cold. Sometimes you will watch a friend fail. Sometimes you will just feel blah and not know why.
Eat the food anyway. Wear the shirt that doesn't feel 100% right. Keep telling jokes. Put on a sweater.
It's ok to feel uncomfortable sometimes. You don't always get everything you want in life. But there are times when it's not about you. It's about being there for others. Maybe wearing a nice shirt inconveniences you, but it sure does look nice and will most likely make the nursing home residents smile. And isn't that worth it? Yes, it is.
That small amount of personal "sacrifice" (I put that in quotes, because is it REALLY a sacrifice to wear an uncomfortable shirt? No.) will come back to you at least 10 fold. Those smiles you will get will wash away the stiffness of the collar in no time. And if they don't, then we'll have another talk.
And guess what? Tomorrow, you can wear whatever you like and I'll probably make you your favorite dinner while we sit in our 72° kitchen.
There are so many HUGE things in the world that are so much worse than a little discomfort. Get past it. Move on. Make someone smile when you can, because it will make you smile, too.
I also feel the need to add this little note: I'm not talking about anything more than being uncomfortable in little situations like discussed above. If you ever feel more than uncomfortable, trust your gut and get out of the situation immediately. I'm simply offering the suggestion of learning the difference between tolerable,acceptable discomfort and knowing something is downright wrong. There IS a difference.