All of us face tough times in life. That goes without saying. They are inevitable, unavoidable. But it’s what we do with those times that counts, because there is no growth without change.
Some of us go through a loss, or financial difficulties. Maybe we suffer through unrequited love, divorce, or a long illness. There are a zillion and one things that constitute ‘tough times’.
But isn’t that the story of our life on this planet? From the whole process of actually being born, then growing and learning, to growing old and finally departing this earth, it’s a struggle.
I have no idea why we are all here, but for me, if I don’t end up a better person than I started out, then I haven’t done very well. And it’s our difficulties that educate us. They help us to discover strength we didn’t know we had. They push us to strive for more in our lives, and sometimes give us purpose in that we can help others who are going through something similar.
Tough times and difficulties are guaranteed. But will we rise to the challenge? Will we learn from these things, and become better people because of them? Better than who we were before?
Last year, my son nearly died. It was tough, and both my husband and I pretty much collapsed in a heap six months later, once he was doing well and we could relax a bit. But, we came out of that experience with a brand new appreciation for living every moment to the full. We emerged with a drive to create memories with our kids, and go adventuring with them, rather than just working to collect things and stuff. We discovered that we take our longevity for granted, and that actually we are not in control, and we experienced the fact that it could all be gone tomorrow. We are better people for it.
Through that and other experiences, I have discovered strength I didn’t know I had. I found that I can endure grief and loss, depression and darkness. When I was younger, I pulled myself through the grief that was threatening to swallow me up, and I made it.
From nothing my husband and I have created the life we have today. We have drive and determination that we wouldn’t have, without those difficult experiences that threatened to crush our souls. We have developed loyalty, integrity, commitment, compassion, empathy, creativity, love, gratitude, perseverance and a hundred other things, precisely because we’ve had struggles in our lives.
I am definitely at a point in my life where I can say that for me personally, I consider those struggles to be good. Without them, I would not be who I am today, and I am pretty happy with the way I turned out. I am at peace with myself.
There is no growth without struggle. A caterpillar never gets to fly as a butterfly unless it struggles out of the chrysalis first. Neither does a seed ever turn into fruit without a part of it dying so that something new can grow from it.
Struggle and change are part of life. Our choice is whether to resist and fight it, or to embrace and go with it, seeing it as a catalyst for our growth. Here’s to growth from change!
He was born into poverty in the early 1900s, and lost his mother at a young age. After his father remarried, his step mother played a massive role in his life.
She told them that she would not accept poverty; that she didn’t like poverty and would master it. And she was determined that, as a family, they would find whatever opportunities they needed to help them out of their situation. Moreover, if opportunities did not come their way, then they themselves would create opportunity. But she would not ever accept their poverty as being permanent; they would rise above it.
And they did.
With the life insurance pay out from her first husband’s death, she put her new husband through dental school. Then from the income which he brought in, they put three children through college.
This amazing woman also put Napoleon himself into a position to interview Andrew Carnegie, from which came his life’s work: that of providing the world with its first philosophy of success. This philosophy has since inspired millions of people throughout the world.
And all because of this woman’s absolute determination that they would make something of themselves, and gain for themselves a more comfortable life than the one they already had.
Napoleon himself, had a son who was born without ears, and without any hearing ‘equipment’ inside his head. The doctor told him that his son would be deaf for life, with no chance of ever hearing anything.
The doctor politely disagreed back.
Napoleon Hill told the doctor that all the time, medical advances were being made, and that perhaps, someday, the doctors would be able to help his son.
But he said he also believed in the power of the mind to work miracles, and even if the medical advances were not made, he didn’t believe that his son had to be deaf forever, and was determined that it wasn’t going to be that way.
At a later age, Napoleon’s son was tested. He was found to have 65% of normal hearing; and that without ears! He was also able to speak, and his hearing functioned well enough that he was able to get through college and his work life. Quite understandably, the doctors were stunned.
So, what’s holding us back? Anything?
Are there things we want, but we’re not sure how we’ll get there?
When hubby and I first married, we both wanted to spend pretty much all of our time together. So he decided that he was going to look for an opportunity that would allow him to work from home.
The opportunity came along, and he started off by returning people’s phone calls in his lunch hour. After a few months, he was receiving far too many calls to deal with on his breaks, and so with six months’ worth of money to live on, stashed in the bank, he left his well-paid job to work from home. Twelve years later, he is still working from home.
All we needed was a goal, and the determination to achieve it.
Our next major desire, was to emigrate. Hubby and I originally hail from different parts of the world, and he was never happy living in my country. I also had the itch for adventure, so we decided to apply to emigrate. In order to do this, we had to qualify on their points system.
We didn’t have enough points. But we were determined that this was what we wanted to do.
This time, no magical opportunity showed up. Hubby had to work, and work damn hard for it. Fortunately, he was self-employed and worked from home, so it meant he could do this (and maybe that was the magical part of the whole process). He decided to do a part time degree, which was relevant to his line of work, and it took him five years to complete.
When he started it, we had no children, and when he finished it, we had three! It sure took a while.
Then there was the two-year application process for emigration itself, along with the usual bumps in the road, requests for more information, troubles finding old records.
Oh, and even, on one occasion, the packing up of our documents, and sending them off with all our earthly goods, in a shipping container, on a four-week journey to another country, only to receive an email two hours later, saying that the Immigration Department needed some of those documents.
We didn’t have them anymore! And wouldn’t get them for weeks.
The Immigration Department gave us 28 days to upload the documents, and the clock was ticking.
Long story short, the container arrived at our new house on Day 28, and the first thing we did was haul that particular box out of the container.
We uploaded the documents with hours to spare.
Anyway, we eventually were given permission to emigrate, seven years after we had originally decided to go for it.
Along the way, we had many times where we found ourselves saying, “They want what? How on earth will we be able to get that? We just can’t do it.” But we, or should I say, my hubby, always found a way. I didn’t really have anything to do with it, because I was looking after three littlies and home schooling the eldest.
Plus, my hubby loves a challenge anyway.
But we (he) did it! It took seven years, and without steely determination, we would have given up. Without being absolutely definite about what we wanted, and without the determination to get there no matter what, we would have given up.
And we’d still be in my country, longing for adventure, longing to see the sun rise over different horizons (thanks Mike), longing to swim in different oceans, to feel warm winds caressing us. We’d be longing to sail the Whitsundays, laze in the Seychelles, go tobogganing in Canada, RVing across the US. We’d be longing to do the school work under a palm tree, or in a log cabin in the morning, with skiing in the afternoon. And we’d be longing to learn about Rome, and then actually see it for ourselves.
But instead, hubby would still be doing the nine to five in London, riding the underground to work every day, while I stayed at home and trudged through the school work with the kids, trying to find them regular playdates.
Instead, because of determination and a few opportunities thrown our way, along with some we have created for ourselves, we are now in a position to do all of the things we have always longed for.
It takes a bit of guts, a bit of courage. And it takes finding the steel in your heart. But you can do it; we can all do it. We can all achieve the life of our dreams. It just takes determination, along with a bit of action wherever possible.
We might achieve our goals quickly, or it might take years, decades even; but what is life without a challenge, or something to strive for, anyway? That’s what makes it all so exciting!
What do you dream of? Do you have anything that you’d love to achieve? Decide to go for it, no matter how long it takes. If it’s worthwhile, it’ll be worth the wait. And the hard slog to get there? That will just make it all the more beautiful when you do.