Ever thought that before? Of course you have. So have I. Who hasn’t? It’s pretty natural, I think. Adolescent Markus spent many a night wondering why his teenage heart had been smashed into several million pieces. Oh, the woes.
In all seriousness, though, life is hard. Nobody can deny that.
It’s full of pitfalls, roadblocks, distractions. Hopefully, no one told you it would be easy because, if they did, they lied to you. Life wasn’t meant to be easy, and life will likely never be easy. From the moment Adam and Eve took that first bite, life was destined to be one battle after the next. Based on my own experience, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected at every turn. Seldom does a day go by where everything simply falls into place. If I was lucky enough to have everything go my way, I would be 6 feet tall, have a photographic memory, and be a 3rd year medical student. Obviously, this was not my path. In retrospect, 22 year-old Markus was not prepared for the rigors of medical school. Heck, I had just exited the dark days of routinely wearing wife-beater tank tops and flip-flops and was finally learning how to color scheme my clothing like a normal human being. That kid did not have a chance in the real world. I needed to learn, to experience, to grow. I needed to persist.
Today’s society does not know what it means to persist. The millennials of our generation are accustomed to first world amenities. Many have either lost, or never had, the mindset and willpower to persist through life’s challenges. Everywhere around us, we’re taught to believe that we’re “unique” (1. A tragically overused word in our vocabulary, and 2. Wrong) and “awesome” (Nope). For all of this encouragement, however, we skimp on our regular, if not necessary, dose of reality. So here it goes.
Unfortunately, most of us are quite average. We fall in the median of the population, rather than the top percentages. We don’t have some incredible physical talent or mental prowess that enables us to distinguish ourselves from 99% of the population. We’re “normal” human beings. And that’s okay. Being average, while not generally a sought-after attribute, does not put you or me at a disadvantage. In fact, I argue the opposite. In realizing that we must devote 110% to the task at hand – whatever that might be – our mindset evolves from complacency to determination. We are driven to become stronger, to work harder. Being “average” keeps us hungry and passionate. It prevents us from settling with second best. It drives us to strive on and to stay motivated.
It’s easy to lose sight on what it looks like to be persistent. So let’s think about it. Persistence, essentially, can only occur in the face of adversity. You cannot have one without the other. Continually placing one foot in front of the other is a strenuous task indeed. I have been tempted on more than one occasion to question my own difficulties. Asking “why?” proved to be one of the easiest questions I could ask since, in essence, it allowed me to ever so slightly shirk responsibility and blame my circumstances for shortcomings. Ultimately, questioning was neither my concern nor my place. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Gandalf phrased it wonderfully, I believe.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
The epitome of a “drops the mic” moment.
The truth of the matter is this: as individuals, much of our outlook, personality, and even temperament can be directly correlated to the hardships we have endured. Take a look at your life, and you will see that the moments of greatest growth occurred during the rocky, arduous times. We learn who we were, who we are, and who we don’t want to be. Most importantly, with each passing obstacle, we obtain a glimpse of who we can become. We see our potential, our self worth. We see a future that we otherwise might have missed had we taken the easy road. I have come to realize the greatest moments in my own journey have resulted from the toughest of circumstances. I am very confident that I would be a lesser, weaker-minded version of myself were it not for such rigors. Setbacks can only be labeled as such if you choose to remain demoralized and defeated. I’ve heard it said,
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.”
Don’t shy away from daily hardships and hindrances. You’ll thank yourself for it.