We are exposed to challenges at every stage of our lives. As newly born babies we come into this world totally oblivious. We are then taught by our parents to speak, walk and become independent of our parents so we can move about freely without their assistance. At school we, are exposed to our first real interactions with people. We have disagreements with other children but through the experience and guidance of our parents we learn what is right and wrong. Then as we embark on our student lives, we are thrust into a different environment that requires a greater level of independence. We have to meet deadlines, be punctual in our attendance at lectures and seminars and learn how to manage our workload, and balancing our studies with our social lives. Here too we learn to develop the qualities that make us into the people we are going to be in our working lives. Then we enter into relationships, we get married and set up home with our partners. Here too we learn about life’s challenges and it is our very wisdom and ability to deal with change that will determine how successful we are.
Now as you are reading this you are probably wondering all this is fine well, what is the point here. The point is that this is what life’s model looks like if thing go smoothly. However, the trouble is life doesn’t always go smoothly. Unforeseen events occur that upset this model. This is where the hardship comes in. People are totally unprepared for this. People experience these unforeseen events in different forms. They could be involved in an accident and face life changing injuries, they could become ill and have to endure painful treatment and operations, loved ones could pass away, they could face bankruptcy, be made homeless. There are people who survive this hardship then there are those people who fall at the first hurdle and fall victim to the hardship. However, the difference between facing up to the hardship and giving into it is to keep your mind intact. The human mind is a really powerful tool. If you can keep it together you can keep everything else together. This is the starting point.
The other thing you have to remember about life is that it will not always be comfortable. There will be bumps and scrapes along the way, and you may even fall down and have to get back up. There will always be something that won’t be right. The getting up part is the hardest. In general, I believe that people who experience hardship earlier on in their lives are more prepared and mentally stronger for the challenges that hardship throws up. The mistake people make in their lives is that they don’t take it seriously until something bad has happened to them. Yes it will be scary, you will want to cry and you may just want to hide from your problems. The important thing to remember is to stand tall when disaster strikes, and be prepared for it. Mental conditioning is very important.
Sadly, it is a great concern that Generation Y in society is growing up to expect that things will be done for them automatically, that they will graduate from college and university and walk straight into a high paying job. That is simply not the case for the majority of people out there. Life’s dynamics are changing partly due to changes brought about by the global recession. Only the fittest and bravest survive and if you can become resilient in facing up to hardships you can prevail in overcoming problems. From a personal point of view here are the things I have learnt from hardship:
- Self –sufficiency – Being a self starter, not having to rely on anybody else but myself in my personal life. I learnt that one can complete a task quicker without having to wait for others.
- Certainty – Having the courage and the conviction to make the call on a difficult issue when others around me didn’t.
- Patience – When things were not going my way, allowing them to run their course and abstain from making unnecessary interventions that would otherwise jeopardize the outcome.
- Physical endurance – I used to play rugby at school and was also part of the school’s Athletics team during which time I really developed myself physically. When I was at University, I was diagnosed with an illness which required intensive medication and corrective surgery. I had two major surgeries 7 months apart. When the surgeon operated on me and I made a remarkable recovery, he said that if it wasn’t for my physical fitness I would not have made a good recovery. So it definitely pays to be in good physical shape.
- Mental endurance – The combination of participating in competitive sports at school and dealing with an illness really brought about the best in me mentally. I became more ambitious as a person and also resilient, motivated, calm and collected. I learned how to cope with problems and having the mental capacity to put up with stressful situations.
- Self-motivation – While others at university and work struggled to keep themselves motivated my attitude always exceeded expectations. Nobody had to tell me to do something. For me it was a part of my everyday routine. I even tackled the most boring of tasks and viewed them as challenges that had to be met.
- Obedience – This has a lot to do my conformity to cultural norms and values that in turn have shaped my principles when times were rough. Obedience has earned me the respect of others, and I am now seen by others in a positive light when I communicate with them.
- Posture – A person’s posture is very important. Thanks to exercise, I was able to improve my posture because I wasn’t very tall. To improve my posture, I embarked on a series of simple yoga techniques. I did these regularly for a year and noticed a remarkable transformation. I didn’t slouch anymore and instead walked very upright, shoulders back and chin forwards. This added a whole new edge to me as a person, especially in terms on my height as it gave me a physical presence I previously didn’t have.
- Principles – One of the most important things I have learnt in life is what I am comfortable and uncomfortable with. Some of these principles have been instilled in me by my parents, others I have developed throughout life. I essentially see my principles as my own codes of conduct that guide me through life’s many challenges.
The process of life is an evolution in itself. It would be very strange if one person spent their lives not adapting to the challenges it posed. Does a perfect life exist? I don’t think so but we do strive for it. There is always something that isn’t right about our lives. Just ask the extremely wealthy celebrities who end up in rehabilitation therapy. Learn how to anticipate the unexpected and learn as much as you can from each challenge in life whether it is minor or major. Build a solid foundation within yourself because when the storms of life hit you, you will stand resolute and emerge strong.