We all struggle with various frustrations, ailments, and obstacles in our lives that, at the end of the day, ground us. They remind us that we're human. That no matter what, regardless of how thick our armor is, beneath the surface lies a fragile vulnerability just waiting for the inevitable assault. And one day, that vulnerability may be preyed upon. In its wake, you will deal with seven stages that will navigate you back on course.

The inability to pierce a grape tomato with a fork is one such example of an obstacle many of us have faced, are currently facing, and will continue to face till the end of time. Here are the seven stages of learning to cope with it.

1. Shock & Denial

You will likely react to the utter inability to pierce a grape tomato using your fork with absolute shock and disbelief. It just keeps rolling around the plate, not letting you properly handle it, like a game of cat and mouse, except here, it is not a game. It is real life.

You may deny the reality of this failure, in order to avoid further hunger as you continue with your meal, and your life. The shock you will feel will be all-encompassing. This may last for weeks (read: dozens of meals).

2. Hunger, Guilt, & Shame

As the shock gradually wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unimaginable hunger. Although unparalleled, it is vital that you experience the hunger fully, and not hide it or avoid it. You may feel shameful and guilty over how you handled the grape tomato. Life feels chaotic and thoroughly pointless during this phase. But you will persevere. You will survive.

3. Anger & Bargaining

Do not be alarmed if you lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the stubbornness of the grape tomato on the rest of your salad. These things happen. However, try to control this, as permanent damage to your diet, as well as to the other ingredients of your salad, may result. This is a time where you will inevitably release all of your bottled up emotion.

Flustered, you will ask such existential questions as:

  • “Do grape tomatoes even want to be eaten in the first place?”
  • “What is the purpose of a grape tomato, if not to be brutally pierced by a fork and eaten by man?”

You may also unsuccessfully attempt to bargain with a higher power, as the level of anguish is just too great. Just know in your heart that this anguish is nothing compared to what the millions of grape tomatoes that do get pierced with forks must feel.

4. Depression, Doubt, & Reflection

You will find yourself immersed in long periods of reflection, pondering where you went wrong and if there was anything you could've done to prevent such a tragedy.

  • Would a spork have been more useful?
  • Should you have used a metal fork instead of a plastic one?

Just know that these are normal questions to ask yourself and that this is a normal thing to go through. We've all had unsuccessful bouts of piercing grape tomatoes, and we've all gotten through it. This is just part of the coping process; you simply can't win them all.

As you reflect, it hits you just how much of a loss this is. That luscious, juicy grape tomato was practically begging for you to pierce it, but you just couldn't do it. Its skin just clashed with the fork, simple as that.

Obviously this specific salad experience was a monumental disappointment, but there will be more salads in your future. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Take some time to be by yourself and wallow in your sadness because soon enough, you will be on the other side of all of this.

5. The Upward Turn

As you continue on with your meals, you'll often come across salads of all shapes and sizes. Rather than be intimidated, you will be ready to face your old acquaintance, the grape tomato. A gentle calm will envelope you. There will be an utter lack of anxiety and your depression will lift and slowly fade away.

6. Reconstruction & Working Through

Before long, you will more or less fall back into your normal, everyday routine. You will find yourself seeking–and finding–realistic solutions to the problems you once faced. Going with the metal fork versus the plastic fork option for all subsequent salad occasions is most definitely the way to go. You learn that wielding more patience is key. And you begin to value the most rewarding things in life (read: grape tomatoes), understanding that to benefit from them requires lots of time and hard work.

7. Acceptance & Hope

During this last crucial step, you will learn to fully accept the new reality in which you live. You accept that the process of eating salads won't always be a walk in the park. And you now understand that the things most worth fighting for in this crazy world are often the most rewarding, but they can also be responsible for the biggest obstacles and hardships.

Looking into the future, you know without a shadow of a doubt that other challenges lie ahead, but you'll be prepared. No meal is too complicated, no grape tomato too difficult to overcome!