Someone once said to me, “you’ll struggle all your life.” I know at the time she meant financial struggle and I was immediately offended. I stewed. A few days later, I stopped focusing on the comment itself and began to think about my reaction to it. Many writers, including Marianne Williamson, believe the only two authentic emotions are love and fear. If this is true, my being offended was definitely a response of the latter. I had experienced a lot of struggle in my life. She had made a matter-of-fact statement with no way of knowing that it would set off an emotional chain reaction.
Over the next few days, I cycled through a lot of emotions, authentic and otherwise. My being offended was only the first. A lot of my struggle had been in childhood. I felt angry about that. Mostly towards my parents. Quickly though, I began to deny it altogether: I had not always struggled. I had periods of financial success in decent jobs. Plus, I had just finished a degree, which should position me to have even greater earning power. (That last one was probably fear again.)
Then, I spent a couple days negotiating with the universe. So far I had experienced my fair share of hardships and had emerged a better person, I thought. That meant my life was going to get easier – right? Not necessarily. What I had come to know for sure was that all of our experiences are an opportunity to learn and grow. I realize that I do not have to understand everything in this life time. But, I want to make sure I learn everything I can from every life experience while I’m here. That I try to understand myself a little better. That I grow into the person I have the potential to become.
The hard part was accepting (graciously) that I may not always understand how my struggle will inform my growth. I know that some of the most difficult situations I have encountered have ended with a lesson of strength. When you exercise a muscle, it stretches, strains, and tears. It is in the recovery phase where the muscle not only heals itself, but actually gets stronger. All the struggles that I have been through in my life have made me stronger.
Struggle, reflection, growth.
In the end, I realized that in itself is the lesson: I do not need to be adverse to struggle. I have the choice to change my perspective. How I perceive struggle in my life is bigger than the struggle itself. I knew this would not be the last time someone would say something that might get me cycling through a plethora of emotions. Now, I feel more confident that I can do it quickly trying to gain perspective.
Regardless of the struggles I may encounter, I am immensely grateful for the ability to recognize the lessons and draw strength. I can also choose to be grateful towards the person who made the comment to begin with. If it hadn’t been said, I may not have had the opportunity to learn something so valuable about myself and my life.