I did not use to be a hopeless optimist.
In fact, I think I generally saw the glass as empty more than full, but through my past three years in college I have learned one monumentally important lesson – it CAN get worse. It can always be worse. I realize that doesn’t sound terribly optimistic, but once something so bad happens and you get through it, you realize that you can get through anything and that others have it much worse than you.
First semester of my junior year is one of my proudest so far, not necessarily because of accomplishments, or grades (although those are still stellar ~humble brag~) but really because I survived it. That semester was full of more challenges and grief and pain than I could ever have imagined.
We’ll start from the beginning – less than one week back into the school year I got a panicked phone call from my father telling me that my Grandmother was being taken to the hospital again and probably would never leave.
While not completely unexpected, as my grandmother had been sick, it was still sobering. It was one of the hardest times to be away from my family yet. Moving forward through the semester, things began to level out, I continued to power through my work, I planned philanthropy events for my sorority, I kept going.
The next shoe dropped by the end of September. I had been so sick for so long, and chalked it up to stress and lack of sleep, then I ended up having mono. I was so lucky it wasn’t so much worse, I had the back pain, the headaches, the tiredness, the persistent cold, all that. But I managed to not miss a single day of class while I was sick.
Keeping my head buried in books really got me through most everything. I got better; I went to a Mountain Weekend, conquered my first cooler and had the time of my life.
Quickly the holidays were approaching which for me means traveling up and down the east coast from Thanksgiving to New Year’s seeing every family member possible. I love it and I could not wait to start.
We were neck deep in our final project for the semester and everything imaginable was going wrong there, but it did not matter because as of Friday I would be on a plane to Florida to stay with my favorite cousin to celebrate her baby boy’s 3rd birthday!
The Monday before Thanksgiving break began, I got the worst phone call I hope I will ever get in my life. My cousin Holly had died that morning.
To give a brief backstory, Holly had been battling cervical cancer for years at this point. She was 28 and on her 5th relapse in 3 years. She barely had any working organs of her own. She was in and out of the hospital receiving platelets and blood transfusions to try and get her counts even close to high enough to continue her treatments.
Eventually her body just gave up. She left an incredibly strong husband, who is in the Coast Guard, and a little boy, who is a miracle in his own right. Born at 26 weeks, he now has cerebral palsy. All of them are incredible humans.
They are people you look at and think “how can they possibly go on?’ but that is the point, they do, they always did because they got to wake up every morning – period – the end – they were thankful for life. Holly and her family are my biggest inspiration.
While this was the worst news I could have received and I will never stop grieving for her, it changed me for the better. Because of their strength I found a new outlook and I refuse to ever go back. After all of that, I still managed to smile most days, to find something to be thankful for, to be a little more patient and a lot more forgiving.
In the end, life is too short to waste a single day on the negative. Make the most of every moment you are given.
If you REALLY know me and my views on life, then you know my low-key obsession with cups.
I mean yes, I love those coffee cups with their ~inspirational~ quotes and I love my $1 cherry blossom cups I recently bought from Dollar Tree…BUT my obsession doesn’t come from a tangible sense, it comes from a metaphorical sense. I believe that “cups” can be used on a daily basis to describe life and how we should live it.
We’ve all heard the classic saying “glass half-full vs. glass half-empty” when describing an optimist vs. pessimist view towards certain situations. Personal opinion here, but I truly believe if you choose to see each moment given to you with a CUP half-full mentality…each and every day is going to reveal all sorts of joys/wonders (I am a self-proclaimed optimist, can you tell?).
Are you overshadowing someone’s bliss by your negative attitude? Would your days be different if you highlighted the good and left the bad in the past? Not only is it important for you to create and maintain this positive outlook, but attitudes are contagious. You never know whose day you’re impacting by your words and actions.
“Every day might not be a good day, but there is good in every day.” I was challenged this past year to write down one positive thing I took away from each day. They varied from “wow today the weather was so AWESOME” to “I ate Taco Bell today…heck yes” to “today I had a really intentional conversation with a friend.”
This daily ritual began to alter how I viewed the entirety of the day. I started noticing all the immense gifts in each day, small or large, that made me smile. Happiness is this really cool thing where everyone has their own take on the question “what fills up your cup?” I challenge you to answer that question and start implementing those things in your daily routine.
Is it going for a long run? Catching up with a friend? Listening to a jammin’ song with the windows rolled down? (If so, let me come with). But it doesn’t matter what floats your boat, as long as you start doing these things in your daily life routine.
Obviously some days feel like they can drag on forever, but I challenge you to find the joy and soak up the days. And if you’re having a bad day, remember my favorite quote, “the days are long, but the years are short.”
One of the best things that life brings us is the opportunity to create relationships with others. In my opinion, interactions with others will FILL up your hypothetical cup the most.
Relationships create a whole new mindset behind the idea of cups. Essentially I’ve learned that everyone has their own unique, individual and beautiful type of cup. Cups differ in many ways; color, shape, size, purpose, etc.
For example, you probably aren’t going to use a wine glass for your morning coffee (but if you do, I respect you big time because you do you, homie.) Taking that in a literal sense, just like cups have purposes, you as an individual too have been placed on this earth with a purpose. And see, no two cups are alike so no two people are meant for the same purpose!
If you’ve found yourself barely staying afloat in the never ending questioning of purpose, you’re not alone. All throughout my life, especially my first two years of college, I struggled with this concept to the extreme. One night in particular I was feeling extra drained and just really down on myself. I wasn’t happy with who I was becoming or the decisions I was making. In my terminology, my personal “cup” was as empty as it could be.
I was walking back to my apartment when I was handed a water bottle from a stranger. Attached to the bottle was a note that said, “Your Life Has Purpose.”
A million thoughts raced through my mind like, “Why does this random person think that I, Darby Miller, have purpose?” or “they don’t even know me or all the mistakes I’ve made…how could they think I have a purpose?” I doubted myself completely. I doubted my worth.
Too much in society, we forget our worth, our value, our purpose to this world. We let insecurities and others tear us down from what we really are in His eyes…perfect. I know there are going to be moments in your life where life doesn’t seem to be going your way or you feel like you’re going down the wrong path BUT…I can promise you this…your life has a purpose…a MAJOR purpose!
Don’t let anyone or anything try to tell you differently because you are a special, unique, beautiful cup that has been created in His image and your capabilities are infinite.
It took a simple gesture of a water bottle to realize my worth. In DJ Khaled terms, the “key to success” isn’t always going to be right in front of you lit up in lights saying, “Hey you! This is how you’re going to do everything and then it’ll all be alright!”
Your purpose is a journey. Your purpose is constantly evolving. Your purpose will surprise you with new ideas and experiences.
Today is the day. Today I challenge you to see that each day and each person is a precious gift. I challenge you to embrace ALL the abilities you were given no matter the circumstances.
And above all else, I challenge you to remember that you have a really cool creator who loves you immensely. So may your cup be filled to the brim and may you have the ability to fill up others’ cups with His love.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be FILLED to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19