We all know the expression, 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.' It's something that we will all have been told countless times, normally by our parents, when we have been dealt a bad card, when something terrible has happened or when something mildly inconvenient has arisen. In these instances, the annoyances are the lemons and in turn we are encouraged to make something delicious and beautiful out of them. Drinking a glass of squeezed lemon juice sounds like hell on earth, drinking a glass of lemonade sounds pretty close to heaven.
Yesterday, life gave me a lemon. Despite the fact that I am on the most beautiful holiday of my life, enjoying dreamy sunshine and one too many rum punches every evening, somehow a lemon landed in my sweaty and slightly sunburnt lap. Now I don't really want to get into the particulars of it, as it's sort of irrelevant and hopefully, to stick to the lemon analogy, one that will go mouldy in a matter of days and therefore not be worth dwelling over. But I did want to have a look at this expression and determine how easy it actually is to do as we are told and make the metaphorical lemonade.
So my particular lemon is in relation to something that I have worked incredibly hard on over the last few years. For anyone who has started a business or gone out on their own will understand, there are so many instances when you pin point your hopes and dreams on something that just never materialises. Although at times I have been drinking lemonade by the gallon, like many other self starters, I have also found myself the proud owner of an orchard at times. The last few months has been a bit like this; promises were made and abandoned, things were talked about and never followed through with and yesterday's lemon was someone letting me down.
At the time I was properly gutted, I sat for a couple of hours somewhere between tears and anger and honestly could not see a light. Despite the fact that I was sitting on a table surrounded by seven wonderfully supportive people and had my phone buzzing constantly, I was left feeling totally alone and lost. This was probably the biggest lemon that I have ever had the displeasure of owning in my work life and I could not possibly see a way in which I would be able to turn this into anything good.
But the one good thing about receiving news like this whilst on a beach, apart from the obvious fact that I'd DEFINITELY rather cry in paradise, is that you have more time to dwell on it then you otherwise would.
Looking out at the sea yesterday evening I was able to actually ponder my situation, to look at it from all angles. To avoid doing anything rash, get a lot of different people's opinions and allow me some time to cool down. As a Londoner, and a millennial to boot, I have a tendency to rush things. You receive bad news and you react instantaneously, you need to fix the problem right now, you need to cry right now, you need to make it better right now. But what we forget of course, us busy bees, is that left unattended, that problem will probably still be there in an hour. Or in the morning, or maybe even in a week.
Of course that might not be the reassurance that you were hoping for, you might be one of these people that puts their fingers in their ears and prays for the problem to go away on it's own, only to discover that it won't, in which case I have probably just broken some really bad news and for that I am sorry. But for those of you who, like me, suffer knee-jerk reactions where these things are concerned, I am pretty sure that the trick to good lemonade, is patience.
Upon receiving my lemon yesterday I picked up my phone in a mad fury and drafted some seriously agro tweets. I called everyone, I breathed too deeply and I plotted revenge. Thank holy god I didn't have wifi at the time. I'm five hours behind the UK here and upon being handed my lemon, there was no one at home who was still working. I rang a couple of people but was told that it would need to be dealt with in the morning. So I sat, furious at first that I hadn't checked my phone earlier and come across the problem sooner and been able to deal with it that morning, until I realised that what had actually happened, was that I had been gifted five hours.
Along with my lemon, I had been given no wifi and five hours with which to work this shit out. Four and a half hours later of course I still have no idea what I am going to do, but I do now have a much more rational mind with which to address the problem.
And that's sort of the point of this piece. There is of course no doubt in any of our minds that we are all dealt lemons, that from pain, strength is born and that from time to time, life will let us down and break our hearts. For some of us it happens daily, for others, we are lucky enough to only have these things occur every now and then. But be rest assured, the problems will come. The problems always come. And really, what we actually need to do, when these problems materialise, is take ten huge steps back, count to one hundred, pour ourselves a drink and give ourselves a minute. An hour. A day to really work it out.
They tell you that when life gives you lemons you need to make lemonade. But what they don't do of course is tell you HOW to make the damned stuff. But there is something that we can take from that and that is this: If I was given a whole bunch of lemons, making lemonade would not be the first thing that I would do with them. What a random and laborious activity right?
I would look at them for a little while probably, walk away from them for a bit (because really, who has got the time to sit and stare at lemons all day?) and think properly about what I was going to do with them. Upon arriving at the conclusion then that I was going to make lemonade, I would pick up my phone and I would google a recipe, perhaps I would call my mum or check a recipe book. I would take a minute and ask for help, because no one, and I mean no one, just knows how to make lemonade do they? And that's just it isn't it. You can't make lemonade on the back of a knee-jerk reaction, you can't make anything beautiful on the back of one of those. You make lemonade over time, you are careful with it and you do it with the help of someone else. And that's something worth remembering the next time you find yourself with one of those pesky lemons in your lap.