Control: What to do when you don’t have it

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Over the last two weeks, some things have conspired that really have me thinking about control and how much of it I just don’t have. This is not a lesson that I am particularly enjoying, but I think it is important. 

About two weeks ago I was informed that, due to low enrollment (a thing I cannot control, as much as I wanted to go find random 9-10 year olds around the city and drag them to work and force them to enroll at my school), my position was cut in my happy little fourth grade world. I was offered a second grade position at my school, but just felt in my gut that that was not the position for me. So, with some help from my boss, I found and accepted a reading intervention position at another school. As much as I am excited to meet new people and try a new position, it was exceedingly frustrating to have this happen to me, and not be able to do anything about it.  Pictured above is the mess I moved into; that is a pile of stuff I had to move out before I could even get my stuff in!

This second example of things I can’t control is so petty, but it has really been an eye-opener to me about how much I want control of even the stupidest things. There has been this red truck parked in the best parking spot in front of my apartment since JUNE, and every time I come home from work, it drives me crazy. “Who does this?? Don’t they know that people who live here and actually drive their cars want to use this spot too!!!” I finally asked my landlord if they could do anything about it, since parking has been hard to find, but they were completely useless, as usual. So there it sits, every day, collecting spider webs in prime parking real estate. 

The last lesson I’m learning about control is the one that hurts the most. Over the past two weeks, Covid has started creeping closer to home. My boyfriend lost a close friend last week, and my close friend’s daughter is currently hospitalized. It’s a powerful reminder of how fragile life can be and how things happen that we just can’t do anything about. I wish with my WHOLE HEART that I could push a button and make everything better. 

But I can’t. I just can’t. 

So what are we supposed to do? We can’t control job changes, or where people park their cars, or this pandemic, among other things. How do we live when it seems that so much of life is just happening to us? 

I don’t think there is one easy answer, and sometimes it just feels good to ask the question. But here is something I am learning; I’ve chosen to focus on what I can control instead of dwelling on everything I can’t. With work, I can take what has happened to me and turn it into something good. Make some lemonade out of it. Choose to focus on having the best attitude I can every day and trying to learn from the situation, instead of being mad every day that this happened. 

With this ridiculous truck, I can just choose to let it go, which is very, very hard for me. I can choose to just move on with my life since there is nothing I can do about it anyways. And slowly, finally, I got to the point where I just park my car wherever there is a spot, and that’s that.

But this last one, what to do when things are happening to people that you care about, and you can’t do anything about it, feels paralyzing. It is the hardest to let go of control when it comes to our loved ones. I’m still learning this one and I want to be careful to not be trite, but some things that help me are practicing gratitude even in the worst moments, and trusting that God will be there to help pick up the pieces and make it into something beautiful, regardless of the outcome.

What are you trying to control these days? Or what advice do you have on the matter?

Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Control: What to do when you don’t have it

  1. So sorry to hear about your job change right in the middle of the school year that’s too bad. It has happened to me. What has also happened to me is being riffed two times and having to look for a job and move my family completely. I’m glad you have a job and you’ll make a great reading teacher just hang in there!
    Dealing with death in the middle of this is tragic. I am praying for you and your boyfriend and his friends family. I hope the little girl wins and fights Covid.
    As for the truck, maybe you should decorate it for Halloween, or hang some Christmas lights on it to make it festive! It might as well cheer people up!

  2. Ah, my sweet Robin! I hear you loud and clear. The change in season is definitely bringing about deep introspection- which can be quite irritating. I’ve been reading some philosophy lately from 161-180 AD by the stoic, Marcus Aurelius. I did this in hopes of finding out some “truths” of how great things must have been back then and compare them to now. But, no, things that were screwed up then – are still screwed up now. “There’s nothing new under the sun” as it goes and it’s so hard to accept sometimes.

    On thoughts of control- Aurelius said, “Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?” – Now, I would say this true for MOST things…….. hahaha but there are limits of course ! . . . . .

    Specifically on your situation, your change in teaching job- there’s probably a child that really needed you more than your 4th grade class. Maybe years down the road that will be revealed to you, maybe not. Either way, you’re an inspiration in and out of the classroom and continue to make a difference.

    The Red Truck? Girl, given that this is Albuquerque, I’m surprised it’s even still there…. if you know what I mean. I would call a towing company posing as the manager of the complex and have it removed. HA ! Some things I guess could be in our control. Or, create a huge poster around the entire truck asking the owner if they need help……moving this.

    Thoughts on COVID….. it’s tough and it’s rough. Anytime I step back into the hospital I’m reminded of sickness and death. Even births, though beautiful, also traumatic. Which lead me to find another quote from Aurelius that made it a little more bearable:

    “Don’t look down on death, but welcome it. It too is one of the things required by nature. Like youth and old age. Like growth and maturity. Like a new set of teeth, a beard, the first gray hair. Like sex and pregnancy and childbirth. Like all the other physical changes at each stage of life, our dissolution is no different. So this is how a thoughtful person should await death: not with indifference, not with impatience, not with disdain, but simply viewing it as one of the things that happen to us. Now you anticipate the child’s emergence from its mother’s womb; that’s how you should await the hour when your soul will emerge from its compartment.”

    You are such a light in this world Robin, and I’m so glad I met you ! Cheers to years of more change and reflection!


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