The Joy of Living Past Your Problems

Illustration for article titled The Joy of Living Past Your Problems
Photo: Sergii Sobolevskyi (Shutterstock)

I thought I would be dead by 27.

I don’t know why I had this number picked out but I remember an old head rapping to me about life the way that old heads do, and at one point, he said something about when he was 27 and I remember thinking, “I don’t got me making it that far.”


I was a wild teen. I was an even wilder young adult. I look back on my life and can see the hand of God, a hand that I couldn’t see then because I was busy ignoring blessings, but my life is proof of her existence.

So everyday brings me joy. Because I didn’t think I would be here. Most days, I feel like I’m in witness protection and I laugh to myself as I’m getting groceries out of the car or speaking to neighbors or cleaning off the porch.

I wasn’t supposed to be here. I was fighting for an early death. I was supposed to be locked up and yet, somehow, God just didn’t give up on me and here I am, running on borrowed time, trying my best to make her proud.

Watching my children be children brings me joy.

Watching my 1-year-old daughter try her hardest to be my 3-year-old son’s best friend and all the ways he tries to ignore her, makes me laugh. Watching her decide that she’s over it and then watching him fight to win her back. Watching them fight for their respective place in this world, watching the excitement from my son when he can finally say the word “caterpillar” without fumbling over the ending, watching my daughter make dishes in her play kitchen and then forcing me to eat everything she’s made.

I’m not one of those people who believes that you have to suffer in order to truly feel happiness but I have been on the other side of it and I’m grateful to have made it through to appreciate everyday as if it’s my last.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.



It’s great to read this kind of insightful stuff. I also had a fatalistic outlook when I was a teen because I knew the way I looked at things was so different from the vast majority of people. I didn’t know how or when but I didn’t dream I’d make it to this age. Yet here I am, having outlived my father by 3 years and his mother, my ‘twin’ by 10! They did die young and I am just so grateful for having had a good life that I was able to live ‘my way’ (essentially). Because they were born in their times, their lives were put on a trajectory they didn’t control and they focused on surviving instead of charting a course and living, recalculating and doing something different, having opportunities arise and the option to take them. It’s good to reflect on these things.

P.S. The wonder of life is watching toddlers figure out how things and people work. An old boss babysat my 1yo once. When I returned she said “She gets excited to eat, just like you!” but when she had sat the baby’s food in front of her, she didn’t eat. She sat there smiling at the grownup for a long moment. When the grownup didn’t get it, she bowed her head, put her hands together and started speaking her gibberish prayers. My boss was embarrassed that she didn’t know to pray before you eat. I am so proud and hold every bit of that story in my heart all these years later! She was a quiet observer but more than anything, she was unflappable! She remembered things but was flexible and amenable when correcting someone. I HOPE I had something to do with nurturing what was in her naturally to be that way!