Written by: Charneise Alston, M.Ed
One thing that is certain, life is unpredictable. That concept may be difficult to accept but nothing is permanent. In addition, you cannot control how life unfolds. “Life is like a box of chocolates,” it’s a bittersweet assortment of both good and bad experiences. We do not get to enjoy success without first experiencing failure. We do not get to relish in victories without fighting in battles. We do not get to heal without being harmed. Moreover, we do not get to be triumphant without encountering adversity.
According to Chinese ideology, the interdependent contrary forces depicted in yin yang are in fact complimentary. Do you realize that there are necessary adversities that you must encounter in order for you to become better? Life’s hardships are fundamental for your development. How do you respond to uninvited tragedy? Do you wallow in despair and become bitter? If so, that is a natural, human response to life’s unpredictable adversities.
The somewhat frustrating thing about life is that we do not get to pick our tests. I remember being in grade school and it was very apparent to my peers that I cared about my academics. I confidently participated in class and would unyieldingly study for my exams. Well, one day a classmate sitting next to me, who would often be found sleeping during instruction, decided to copy my answers onto his test. A week later, our teacher returned our graded assessments and I smiled after seeing an A on my test. Ironically, the peer who cheated on his test by copying my answers failed the exam. We later discovered that the teacher distributed different tests to avoid deception.
In the same manner, my adversities in life will differ from your experiences. While there are common themes of life, we each experience adversity in a unique way. Life does not give out identical tests. Your life lessons are custom-made specifically for you; you are simply cheating yourself whenever you envy someone else’s life.
There are six different types of adversity: physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and financial. Life is filled with setbacks, obstacles and roadblocks that can drastically throw us off course. What type of adversity are you struggling to overcome?
What makes adversity bittersweet is the dichotomy between the painful circumstance and the relieving lesson. Adversities are uncomfortable and difficult, but they are temporary. Yes, any unfortunate event that you are currently experiencing is going to eventually pass. The misstep that we often take is when we choose to look inward instead of upward during adversity. When you opt to be in your feelings, you are choosing to be led by your senses. In the midst of adversity, I encourage you to look up for guidance. Keep your head up and declare your anticipated outcome. A positive attitude is the best antidote to adversity.
Maybe you have experienced a great loss from a tragic fire or natural disaster and have to rebuild your life, you can overcome this misfortune. Maybe you are one of the 800,000 government employees affected by the recent government shutdown facing eviction, you can overcome this financial hardship. Maybe you are battling with Depression, Anxiety, or PTSD from a traumatic experience, you can defeat this diagnosis. Whether small or big, adversity is an opportunity for growth.
Do not abort the mission when the enemy attacks. Do not “jump ship” when the waters become treacherous. Yes, life is hard and unfair. Accept that there are unforeseen challenges headed your way. Even so, you were created to be victorious. You are stronger than your circumstances. Your fortitude will not waver from life’s setbacks. In fact, you will become more resilient, patient, and wiser as you push past the temporary pain. Therefore, embrace the advantages of adversity as it strengthens your weaknesses, develops your character, and enlightens your perspective.
“No difficulty can discourage, no obstacle dismay, no trouble dishearten the man who has acquired the art of being alive. Difficulties are but dares of fate, obstacles but hurdles to try his skill, troubles but bitter tonics to give him strength; and he rises higher and looms greater after each encounter with adversity.”
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox~