Adversity. Every one of us experiences it in our lives; to varying degrees, and in different ways. It tests our resilience, perseverance, and resolve. At times, it feels as though the world is throwing far too much at us to bear; and it's in those moments we discover an enormous amount about ourselves.
Adversity, to me, reveals itself as pressure. Pressure that manifests almost physically -- as though someone has put my head in a vice. I distinctly remember feeling this way in the middle of my third year completing my finance degree. The math was getting really complicated, I was totally unsure as to whether I wanted to be studying finance at all; I wanted to quit. I recall sitting in my room, head in hands at my desk; my face was scrunched up in an incredibly unattractive way, and I could feel the pressure in my head -- like my brain was being pulled apart. I had not just let adversity get the better of me; I was living in it full-on, and stoking the flames of an incredibly uncomfortable state.
It's natural for us to want to avoid feeling this way. I mean -- who would willingly bring that on themselves? The thing is, though, that we often make adversity much more of an unappealing beast than it really is. When we become uncomfortable, challenged, pushed -- it can cause us to have a reaction similar to a fear state: we want to get out of it as quickly and in whichever direction is fastest. All too often in our lives, we're met with adversity and run from it. Sure, we chip away at it for a while, but eventually we find it too hard, too anxiety-inducing, or we become too bored with it to keep going. I certainly fall into the anxiety-inducing category, as I have this masochistic tendency to create mountains out of mole hills. I've also just flat given up. It's not anything I'm proud about, but the reality is what it is.
So often, when we reach that point of throwing in the figurative towel, we've created a monster of adversity, and no longer see the point in vanquishing it. We've lost the ultimate goal or desire to see things through, because it's gotten too tough along the way, and we wrap ourselves up in the difficulty to remember why we set out to do that thing in the first place. Success, and really anything that's good and amazing in life, requires supreme effort on our part. If everything was easy, we'd live pretty boring lives because we'd all be small beings living comfortably inside our comfort zones. Pushing and challenging ourselves promotes growth; it creates the sense of accomplishment not only because you've met your goal, but because you overcame obstacles in order to get there.
I think back to that time, wanting to quit on my degree. I had become so entrenched in how much difficulty I was having, that I forgot about why I set out to complete it, and what I had to look forward to when I did. Thankfully, my wonderful mother was there to act as my own personal guide through the rocky section of the road. She reminded me that what I was doing was not easy. And it wasn't meant to be. That not only would I be better because I faced this challenge, but that I would reap the benefits and rewards afterwards. That it wasn't about being stronger than, or forcefully shoving myself through the adversity; but rather, that I needed to rely on my inner strength and resilience, and simply outlast the adversity. Be the last one standing in the end.
To me, that's really the key to overcoming adversity. To understand that attacking it with fervor and zeal may not be the best approach. That if I run up that long, steep hill with all my speed, there's a good chance I'll exhaust myself and pass out before I reach the top. Instead, focusing on taking dedicated and resolute steps forward, knowing that with consistent action and forward progress, adversity will eventually yield to my persistence.
Sometimes, we overcome things very quickly. Much more often, it's about taking our time and making sure that we don't get too bogged down in inaction to keep going. It's about understanding that our path to overcoming adversity is not a race, but a marathon. And we need to treat ourselves in the best way possible to ensure we're the last ones standing at the finish line.
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