Subject: Brauns Law is committed to helping people “fall forward” – taking setbacks like being injured in a car accident and leveraging the experience to become stronger and more empowered in life. What qualities and values do you possess, and how have those qualities and values helped you overcome certain obstacles in your life? What was a short-term failure that in hindsight became an asset or empowering experience?
Writer: Kayal Sherrodd
I had never lived off the grid before.
Here I was, a thirteen-year-old girl, just beginning to enter the realms of puberty, being told by her hippie-inspired parents that they were going to live off the land.
Growing up, my family had taken this leap of faith once before, but I experienced it through the lens of a three-year-old. I was inevitably numbed to the hard work and dedication that living off the grid accounted to. Playing in dirt, collecting eggs from my best friends (the chickens), building rock houses for my Barbies and ending my day with a lukewarm bath in the horse trough was my fantasy, and I was living it.
This rose-colored lens that hid me from the true realities of the world soon vanished the minute we stepped foot onto the frozen desert of the Wyoming prairie and a 400 sq. ft. one-room cabin I was to call my home. My fantasyland I so loved as a child molded into backbreaking work that I attempted to avoid. Playing in the dirt became chopping wood, collecting eggs became picking up poop, building rock houses became stacking rock piles, and my horse trough bath became showering in water contaminated with hydrogen sulfide. My new life consisted blisters and bad tan lines, and I blamed my parents for it.
One ordinary afternoon, I was driving home with my mom on the long gravel road that led to my abominable reality when I irrationally lashed out at my mom from the site of her so called oasis.
“Why did you have to drag me along on one of your adventures? I hate it here!”
The minute these words reached my mom’s ears, the truth unraveled as she burst into tears. We were not living off the grid because of my parents’ spontaneous personalities, we were here because my parents could not afford to live in a nice house anymore— we had no money. A feeling of guilt overcame me as I came to this realization. My parents had faced this problem with an overwhelming sense of optimism, as if they were wearing the lens I once cherished as a child. Within this chaos, I focused on the little things that made my life unlivable. I needed that lens that gave my parents the confidence to face life’s unexpected twists and turns. They had learned to thrive in a situation in which they had no power, and I was focusing on how to cover-up my tan lines.
I never expected that stepping foot onto that wasteland would inspire me to become the person I am today. Living off the grid opened a door to a mentality that defines me. I understand that we live in a serendipitous world, and in order to survive, one must learn to make best of the hardest situations and face them with optimism. This is the attitude I embodied as a three-year-old, but soon lost as I grew older and refused to let go of the small stuff. My parents taught me to once again wear the lens which defined me as a child. The lens is not suppose to hide you from the true realities of the world, but help you look at any situation with confidence, which is vital in a world where you have no control. This lens is what defines me today, and I have that 400 sq. ft. house to thank for that transition.