How Quickly We Adapt

Where I grew up, cold weather was sort of the norm.  I was an enthusiastic ice skater and hockey player (though not a good one), and in those days, our outdoor ice rink would close when temperatures hit -9°F/-23°C.  We found that frustrating when we'd have a couple weeks of weather colder than that where we couldn't go out to play.  In our youth, we were so willing to brave the temperatures to socialize and have fun.

Widespread areas of the United States are currently being impacts by cold weather.  Even far south areas of the country are under a freeze.  And while it is not as cold as -9°F/-23°C, leaving my house to go to work I wonder how I could have ever enjoyed being out in weather like this when I was a kid.

I think most people are pretty adaptable, and I am certainly someone who adapts easily.  Moving to the more southern areas of the United States (though don't let anyone catch me saying that because I know this isn't the south!), I have to contend with temperatures that exceed 102°F/39°C every single year.  I blame it on my lazy thyroid, but I can wear pants in that weather and not sweat.  And yet, I recall those short summer heat waves in my hometown, and how miserable it was when we couldn't cool off the house.  Now I can handle the hot but not the cold.  I am sure if I moved north again, it would reverse itself again!

It's part of how our instinct for survival is made, and not just physical but part of our entire person.  I remember back when I was still going through the immigration process and couldn't work, but I was going to college full time.  In every off moment I had, I booked babysitting jobs, dog walking, taking care of elderly people, cleaning houses and businesses, and even helping people do many hours worth of ironing.  And I used to think back and wonder how I managed to go from day to day, hardly ever having a day off to just relax, desperate to make the nickles and dimes, and all the while, learning new things in school, like Spanish and economics.  

And yet, here I am today, almost in reverse, working full time, but going to school, plugging away through courses, long days, volunteering and pursuing hobbies in my precious off time.  And I realize, we learn to adapt to our environments, our schedules, our obligations and our strain.

I have a high tolerance for annoyance, discomfort, and fatigue. Over a short period of time, I can adapt to unpleasant conditions, high expectations, and even physical discomfort. But it reminds me of the need to incorporate rest into my routine.  I can function on little sleep, but I function most optimally on proper sleep.  I can function with little recreation, but I function most optimally when I can refresh myself with some good old-fashioned goofing around!

I am grateful for my resilient nature and adaptability (which I think comes from my strong northwestern European background!), but I must be cognizant always that even when I can manage, I can always manage better when I take care of myself and incorporate rest, recreation and fun into my life as well.

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