After my mono diagnosis, I was feeling a little like "Bad Luck Brian" and hoped the streak was over. It seemed like the odds were always against me!
I credit three things for rescuing me from my destructive negativity and bitterness towards life. My mom, comedy, and writing.
My mom is the strongest and most selfless person I know. Even when she is in the most excruciating pain imaginable, she prioritizes my well-being and happiness. She has always been extremely adamant about being productive, not wasting precious time, and being well-rounded. There was no way she was going to allow me to waste my life away, especially when hers was at a complete stand-still. After the mono symptoms wore off, there was no tolerance of my staring at the wall and asking, why me? I insisted that I just needed time to feel sorry for myself. I just wanted to race my bike. Her reply? "Well, I'm not raising a cyclist, I'm raising a human being." What I really needed was a kick in the butt to get my act together and she knew that!
Working towards something is better than working towards nothing. Mom strongly encouraged me (we all know what that means) to use my time to improve myself in areas that didn't get much attention during school, training, travelling, and racing. She gave me no choice but to keep busy, stay productive, and do things that my future self would thank me for. One of those things was studying for the SAT. I tried so hard to dodge this task - but to no avail. Each time I sat down to study, I couldn't focus because I was too preoccupied imagining what my friends were doing without me. In the beginning, all I could think was, "This isn't fair. I'm supposed to be on the most epic road trip of my life right now but instead I'm manipulating quadratic and exponential expressions!" My mom did not let my pessimistic funk distract her from cracking the whip. She's a tough and persistent cookie!
She made me practice my guitar, keep my body strong with yoga / pilates, learn to cook meals, improve my slackline skills, study for my permit, and do chores around the house and yard. (Please note: I chose to save turtles all on my own.) At first, they all just felt like substitutes to distract me from what I wanted to be doing and where I wanted to be (which was mom's intention). I was going through the motions robotically and not really enjoying myself because I couldn't stop wishing I was on that trip. Then one day, as I was strumming my guitar, I realized I was actually enjoying it and it was therapeutic. Dare I say, mom's plan worked.
One day, I was going for a walk and began listening to comedy stations on Pandora. It really lifted my spirits because I would come home and tell my parents all the funny jokes. As a family, we watched Last Comic Standing because what's better entertainment than 60 minutes of people telling jokes?! Listening to stand-up completely distracted me and made me forget all about the disappointments in life. It cheered me up and made me realize that I hadn't laughed in a long time. It put me in a better mood and reminded me that I needed to kick my negativity to the curb and find humor again.
Here are my favorite comedy sets to cheer you up!
Brian Regan - Biking
Brian Regan - You Too & Stuff
Jim Gaffigan - Bacon
Listening to comedy also inspired me to get back to doing what I love - making other people laugh through literature. I really do feel like it is my purpose in life to provide people with a healthy distraction from life's troubles. Giving people a good laugh makes me feel good and it's a win-win situation on both sides. The circle of laughter between the writer and the reader is a powerful stress-reliever and positivity booster. So, I picked up an old project I scribbled down in June and worked really hard to get it published. You should expect to find it on bikemag.com this week!
Following my last update, I received many positive comments, messages, and emails. My goal in writing these posts isn't just to keep you in the loop, but to inspire and provide a sense of relatability that anyone can draw from and apply to their own lives. It makes me feel amazing when someone tells me that I did what I set out to do. I'd like to share a few anonymous ones that really made my day.
Hi Veda, I would love to see an update on your blog! My husband and I had our daughter in January and named her Veda. While I was pregnant and we were deciding whether to name her Veda, I came across your website. I loved your personality and spunk so much that it took away any reservations I had about naming her Veda. Now that she's here, her name just fits and I can't imagine her having any other name. I love it! I check back in on your website every now and then to see how you're doing. Best wishes to you, whatever it going on in your world!
I don't really know you in person, but it's important for people to know that other people still care about them and would like to help them out. You're not left behind or forgotten.
You're a beautiful writer and you have a talent for making complete strangers (like me, I guess, haha) care about your life, your successes, and your struggles. If you want a career as a professional mountain biker, those skills will be more valuable to you than any result you get right now.
All in all, it wasn't the most fun summer of my life, but it wasn't a waste either. Mentally, it made me tougher and I feel like I can handle whatever is thrown my way. I'll be signing off from blogging for awhile to focus on my junior year, SATs, college prep, and base training. But you never know where Darth Veda might appear. Until then, don't forget :
Life is a cha-cha. Forward and back - it's not a dance if you don't move in both directions. Embrace the dance.
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @ItsDarthVeda for updates throughout the end of the year.
As always, thank you for reading and keep an eye out for my upcoming publication on bikemag.com!