“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s a proverbial phrase used to encourage optimism and a can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune.
But what happens when you simply don’t feel like being optimistic? What happens when you don’t feel like you can do it? What happens when you want to give the world the middle finger and just throw those lemons at the first person that looks at you wrong? In those situations you want pie. And frankly, anything with sugar and carbs that you can get your hands on.
This past Friday started rather lovely for me. I had an early morning breakfast with my parents and husband at a local diner before my husband headed into work. Orange Is The New Black Season 3 was released on Netflix that day and my fabulous friend from work was coming over to watch that night. In the interim, having the day off from work, I planned to sit outside in the sun and enjoy a new book that just arrived in the mail from one of my high school besties. To make this day even better, after months of scrolling on Pinterest and Instagram and admiring the crazy color hair trends I had just dyed my hair purple and it was making me rather happy to look at despite my father’s slight hesitation.
It was 9:40 am and I was settling in to read my new book when I got a call asking if I could make it into a last minute appointment at 11. I said sure and hopped in the car to take a 70 minute drive that would get me there right on time. That’s the point in my day where things spun out of my control and my day no longer felt like my own. I hate driving so the 70 minutes alone in the car on the New Jersey Turnpike left me feeling exhausted. My appointment lasted 90 minutes where I felt like lemons were being hurled at me in the form of information that left me feeling helpless.
I left the appointment. Hopped in my car, took a sip of the luke warm Starbucks drink I had left in my cup holder and started to cry as I dialed my husband to fill him in on my frustrations. Mid-way through his voice of reason I started thinking about the full box of chocolate teddy grahams left over in my apartment from baby-sitting my cousins two days prior. The thought of them home waiting for me in my apartment instantly lifted my spirits.
I hung up with him and was headed straight home to be hugged tightly by every single one of their little chocolate bear arms. 5 minutes closer to our embrace I realized I didn’t have keys to my apartment. My husband wasn’t going to be home for an hour to let me in. In my frustration my mind once again went to food to fuel the poor me case I was building against myself. I reasoned that I had to pick up a couple things at Target anyways so I figured that was a good place to kill the time. I’d head there, grab the things I need and polish off a bag of Australian licorice while I browse the Maxi skirts and wait for my husband to let me into our apartment.
I started to think about the teddy grahams, the licorice, cookies, and pie. What is it about life handing us lemons that makes us go to highest calorie foods on the planet? Why when we feel helpless and out of control do our minds run here?
A few more minutes into me planning my binge at Target I became fully aware of what I was doing. After all, I had done this so many times before. I decided that for the next 11 minutes in the car I would let myself feel why my mind immediately went to food in this emotional time of frustration. I came to the conclusion that I wanted the food so bad because I felt sorry for myself. I felt that in this instance life didn’t give me what I wanted, what I thought I deserved so I said screw it. I’ll just eat. Nothing matters anymore because I didn’t get the one thing I wanted. I rationed I deserved this food because life was unfair. Why should I care about my diet when the universe hates me? Poor me, poor me, poor me. Why me, why me, why me.
But why not me? Life isn’t unfair, it’s actually probably more fair than we realize.
What ultimately stopped me from buying the Australian Licorice and everything else in the Oreo Aisle at Target was the realization that the food wasn’t going to change the outcome of my current Friday troubles. But more importantly there will always be an excuse for me to feel sorry for myself. I could find a reason big or small on Saturday and Sunday and Monday and basically everyday of my life. Day after day things happen that are out of our control. We are constantly thrown curve balls. We just have to catch the ball not let it hit us in the face.
I left Target with exactly what I needed. I had an apple on the car ride home and I walked into my apartment and put myself down for a nap letting my bed hug me instead of those teddy grahams. I felt better when I woke up and was proud that in the moment I resisted the temptation to eat my feelings.
Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending because the whole box of teddy grahams is gone. And I am the only one to blame. They got the best of me late Friday night. And all I can do now is look back and remind myself that the lemons are still there but the teddy grahams aren’t.
So when life gives you lemons, drink the lemonade it’s a lot less calories than anything else will be.