I’ve always felt that the ever-quoted Maya Angelou said it best:
‘You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.’
I believe that hardship offers people two roads, two diverging paths that will dictate where you go from the bottom. Darkness, and light; the beaten path and the road less traveled, if you will. As with most things in life, it all comes down to perspective –will I let this tear me apart and hold me down, or will I learn from this pain and make myself stronger? When all the superfluous bullshit is stripped away and you’re left naked in the dark, you either make yourself a home in the Pit, or you find a way to climb out.
The moment you hit rock bottom is the moment you discover who you truly are, and it’s when you’re given the best opportunity to make the greatest change. Those of us who have been there may understand the following points…. or maybe we’ve each found our own path out of the darkness and this is mine.
1. Something breaks in you, it snaps apart, and you’ll have to heal as best you can — gluing and taping the pieces together again until it doesn’t hurt to breathe so much and the world starts to look just a little brighter.
2. You appreciate the quiet, little moments. When the world is silent, the sky is bright, and the sun is warming your face. Sometimes, that’s all you really need to make it through a day.
3. You don’t take happiness for granted. You understand happiness is not a constant state of being and that it might disappear at any moment, which allows you to truly treasure it while it lasts. They say that you don’t really appreciate something until it’s gone, and you can strongly attest.
4. Experience has taught you grace under pressure, and you’re often the voice of calm and reason when others are prone to panic.
5. You’re slower to pass lasting judgments on anyone because you understand and appreciate how difficult life can be and that few things in it are ever black and white. People are so much more than they often appear, and you’d know that better than just about anyone.
6. You understand that how one handles the consequences of their choices and actions is equally important, if not more important, than the choices themselves. We all fuck up, it’s how we handle the aftermath that often defines us.
7. You understand that anger, pain, hurt, indignation, offense, and regret are all choices. You can choose not to be any of them, or at least learn how to manage and control them so they don’t rule and define your existence.
8. The little, petty grievances in life don’t phase you. Offensive online article? Barely even makes the radar. The opinions of people you barely know? Why should you care?
9. You understand that to make a future you can’t live in the past and that the best way to heal is to move forward and to let go of all your hurt and regret. There’s no going back either way.
10. You recognize that it is up to you to decide if pain, both emotional and physical, is a legacy you want to perpetuate or a cycle you want to sever and leave behind.
11. You’ve probably built up some pretty thick walls. Maybe you’ve learned to make some semblance of emotional armor that can take some time to get under. Maybe you keep people at a distance, especially if you really wish you could get closer. Love and trust has taught you fear and pain, even if, deep down, you’re always hoping someone will prove you wrong. Eventually, you learn to recognize those people worth your time and affection and hold on to them.
12. You’ve done things you’re not proud of, but you understand that the best way to handle regret is to learn from it and move on. Everyday offers you an opportunity to be a better person.
13. Your bullshit detector is probably pretty accurate, and your tolerance level for it is probably pretty low. Life is just too damn short for disingenuous people.
14. You don’t begrudge people their issues, problems, or suffering. Pain is not a competition, and even if it was… who would want to win?
15. People have accused you of emotional detachment. It’s just that it takes a lot to faze you. Time and experience have taught you strength and fortitude in the face of adversity and caution in times of happiness and peace. The emotions are always there; you’ve just learned to control and temper them.
16. You know that every person you allow into your life and heart takes a little piece of you with them, so you’ve learned to choose sparingly and carefully.
17. Time is priceless and you’ve learned to make the most of every second.
18. You’re probably incredibly empathetic, even if you don’t show it, and you’re good at reading a person’s true character. You understand how much worse hardship can be when you’re forced to face it alone and in silence, and go out of your way to be there for friends and loved ones who are struggling.
19. You’ve learned the power of forgiveness and how to let go of the people who have hurt you. Hate and anger only ever hurt the people who live through them. If anything, it lets them win by continually dominating your thoughts, your emotions, and your life.
20. Weakness is thinking that accepting help is shameful, you know that strength comes from letting go of your pride and allowing people to support and be there for you. After all, we are none of us an island and we can’t truly wander this life completely alone, sometimes we have to find our strength in others for a while until we can discover our own.