The Slow Clap

by - 8:27 PM

This past spring, I took a course at my university called "University Student Success". Throughout the semester, everyone in class got pretty close. We shared pretty much everything that was happening in our lives. The first day of class, I made it known that I was getting married in just a couple of months. It seemed to become a class affair from that point on. We were pretty tight, I tell ya.

In February, just a month before the wedding, I found myself at the literal death bed of my father. It was such a dark time for me. I had taken a couple weeks off of school to be with family and when I came back, it was like I had made a complete 180 degree turn. My father's death changed me somewhat--I found myself being short-fused and easily offended. I was annoyed by laughter. I didn't want to talk to anyone. No one knew what I was going through but my teacher. One day in class, we played an ice-breaker game and I made it well-known that I did not want to participate. It was hard enough for me to get out of bed and make it to campus; socializing would just push me over the edge.

About a week after that incident, I was feeling slightly better. Hayden and I had just had our "first look" video put together and since everyone was so up-to-date on all things "Lauren's Wedding", I mentioned that the video was finished. Several people asked to see it, and my professor obliged. As I went up to the desk to put the video on the projector, I apologized to everyone for the way I had been acting. I explained that I was going through an extremely difficult time with my father's death and my wedding right around the corner. They were nothing but loving and supportive.

The semester went on and eventually, we were in the last week of classes. One particular day, I had just picked up my cap & gown for graduation and I also got a free piece of cake, so I was feeling real good. In University Success, we sat in a circle and were instructed to get out our journals and pass them around. Each classmate was to write something about the person that that journal belonged to. It reminded me of signing people's yearbooks in High School. #H.A.G.S.

When the journals had made it to everyone, we had time to look over what people had written to us. As I read the notes from these unique and sincere individuals, I couldn't help but cry. Many said something to the effect of "I think it's very admirable how you stayed in school with everything that you went through", or "You are resilient. I am impressed with your ability to overcome whatever trials are put in your path".

Let me take you a little ways back into my past:

My very first year at college, I was in [what I considered at the time] a serious relationship. We had been together about 10 months and the dude dumped me two weeks into my second semester. I was so depressed that I became unmotivated and just couldn't get myself to go to class.

Two years after that, I kid you not--literally the EXACT same thing happened at the EXACT same time. Serious [but really serious this time] boyfriend. Two weeks into spring semester. Dumped. I basically only got out of bed to go to work and teach dance. I just couldn't discipline myself enough to get to school.


Okay, so back to reading those journal entries. You can imagine what joy and triumph I felt as I reflected on those past semesters where I let some stupid breakups stop me from progressing and compared them to the semester I was about to complete. It was an indescribable feeling. My professor asked if anyone would like to share their thoughts from what they read. I raised my hand. I explained those circumstances of the past and how hard it was for me to overcome what, in retrospect, is such a small obstacle. In contrast, this semester, I worked two jobs, planned a wedding, lost my Dad, got married, and moved into a new place. And there I was that day with my cap and gown in hand ready to graduate the next week. I got so choked up as I shared my experience that my throat hurt and I'm sure they couldn't understand me by the end of it. Out of nowhere, one of the more quiet guys in class started a slow clap. Soon everyone joined in and the whole class was applauding me for my victory. Some people even came up to hug me.

That, my friends, was a great feeling.

The next class, I grabbed the guy that started the slow clap. I thanked him for what he did and told him what it meant to me. He quickly interjected and said "No, thank you. Thank you for sharing what you've gone through. It's inspiring and helps everyone."

That was the moment I realized how important it is to share our trials and our experiences.


I think society tells us that it's somewhat rude or arrogant to talk about ourselves.

You know what I say?

BALONEY. (or "balagna", if you prefer. Tomato/tomato.)

It's easy to hit up YouTube University and find out how to create "the perfect smokey eye", but when it comes to getting advice on how to deal with real life problems (i.e. losing a loved one, dealing with an illness, feeling lonely), the profound, heartfelt, honest resources just don't seem to be as abundant. Sharing our experiences with others helps them to become better, and triumph over their trials.

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that has those words "inspired by a true story"? Doesn't it make you want to watch/read it? And when you do, aren't you INSPIRED?

I was living with some dear friends up until my wedding. They would have family night every week, and one night, I came home from work as they were finishing up a movie. This was one of those "true story" movies. It was about a young girl who became very sick but was still a sweet inspiration to all around her. It moved us all to tears, even the kids, who are all quite young. After prayers, the mom told me that one of the kids wrote the name of that girl on his hand to remind him to be a better person. Tell me that is not precious!

Remember in kindergarten when your teacher would read you a fairy tale and explain the "moral of the story"? Take "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", for example, where the moral is to not lie because when you're actually telling the truth, no one will believe you and you'll get eaten by a wolf. Worked for me.

Children understand this type of teaching strategy, which means adults can just as well.

Sharing our stories builds strength in others, and also in ourselves. Every time I reflect on that sweet story of "The Slow Clap", I get goosebumps. I remind myself of how hard that situation was, yet I prevailed.

It's not my only trial, my first trail, or my last trial. We all have victories, big and small, every day.

What are yours?

I invite you to reflect on your "Slow Clap" moments and share them here!

Much love,

-Lo.

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2 comments

  1. It seems to me that the more trauma, hardships and more trials a person goes through, the more emotionally intelligent that person becomes. I would venture to say more spiritually intelligent as well. Our eyes and minds become more open and we see things more clearly, IF we allow God into our lives. Without faith, the lessons are not much of a lesson but a heartache instead. At least that has been my experience.

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