On Surviving Storms

On Surviving Storms

As you may or may not know, the East Coast was recently the victim of a righteous beating. Winter storm Jonas (controversial because many folks dispute the practice of naming winter storms), came in with a vengeance last Friday and left many eastern cities crippled in its wake. As one who has never dealt with true winter (Texas represent!), I was beyond nervous about the impending storm; after all, I only recently got snow boots and I'm not even sure how to use them.

I am a weak human; I am made for temperate climates. Jonas' upcoming arrival forced me to face my anxieties and come up with a plan and incidentally made me evaluate how I encounter obstacles in all areas of my life, beyond large shifts in the weather. Spoiler alert: I made it through the storm, and I learned some lessons that can apply to the storms of life as well as storms on the East Coast.

1. Face the problem.

I'm all about denial. You know this about me. This should come as no surprise. I deny everything: my bank account, the number of dollars I've spent on weddings, how long I go without washing my hair. No subject is to big for me to ignore and avoid. This is why dry shampoo and credit cards were invented.

However, some things can't be ignored. Like snow storms, or fights with your best friend or the newest Adobe update. There are things I just have to face. This takes effort and as an inherently lazy person this is hard. In the face of Jonas I had to come to terms with the fact that hell was about to descend upon me. I had to accept the facts. I live in a basement. My roommate would be out of town so I was going to be alone. Power might go out. I needed to have food and water. Once I decided to grow up and acknowledge that how I played the situation would influence my happiness and safety, I was able to make a plan. Big moves for a semi-adult.

2. Plan.

I'm an optimist. I'm a big believer that everything will work out great. "I'll be fine, nothing will go wrong," I told myself last Wednesday night. I had developed a plan for the weekend - stay home, watch Netflix, eat mac and cheese. However, on Wednesday night DC experienced a sneak peek of the blizzard. It started snowing at 6 p.m. and kept up for three hours. Cars were stuck all night; buses shut down. Chaos ensued. This was both good and bad. Bad, because it took me two hours to get home from work. Good, because it made me reevaluate my weekend plans. If 2 inches of snow can shut down the city, what would 3 feet of snow do? Cue panic.

I can't tell you how many times I've been in this exact situation. I avoid a problem, I assume that it will all be fine, and then suddenly it's not fine. Suddenly my relationship is on the rocks, or I'm behind on a project or it's the first of the month and RIP my checking account. Impending doom always brings out my inner strategic planner. In this case, I created an extensive plan. In order to avoid getting snowed in my apartment, I would just leave my apartment. In order to do that I would have to clean the kitchen, make some food, leave a faucet dripping to avoid any bursting frozen pipes. I would have to leave on Thursday to make sure that I had all of my necessities with me before the blizzard started on Friday. After checking off all the things on my Snowmageddon to-do list, I was ready to leave. And then I asked my most frequent question of self, "Where the hell am I going..." Oops, as always one detail of the plan goes unnoticed until the 11th hour.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

I don't know how many times I've told friends that I'm in a bad situation or unhappy or scared, and they didn't help me. Why? Because I never explicitly said that I needed assistance; I always veiled my SOS calls as "venting sessions" or "I-just-called-to-see-how-you're-doing calls" or other stories of woe. These do not count as asking for help. My friends aren't mind readers. I can't expect them to know that I need a hand with something if I don't have the humility to ask. And guess what. Once I actually ASK for help, people are way more helpful. My friends want to help me in the same way that I want to help them, but if no one is vulnerable enough to admit they don't have it all together, no one knows to help.

Case in point: I could tell my friend Robby that I wasn't looking forward to the snowstorm, and she would certainly sympathize but probably not offer much in the way of help, but when I told her that I was genuinely afraid of getting stuck in my apartment and asked if I could intrude on her hospitality to stay at her house for the weekend, her answer was a resounding "absolutely." Thank goodness.

4. Bring your own champagne.

This is both literal and metaphorical. Literal, in that you should never show up empty-handed if you can help it. I brought dinner and champagne because that's what a good guest does and champagne improves everyone's mood. Metaphorically, bring your own fun. A bad attitude about snow or ice isn't going to be much help when I'm trekking through Chinatown in a blizzard with thundersnow (look it up, it's a thing). When it comes down to it, every less-than-ideal situation could use a little bit of bubbly, so in my opinion either bring your own effervescent attitude, or stop by a liquor store and buy a bottle of brut.


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