I’ve probably mentioned this topic in various ways in almost every post I’ve written. Because they’re an everyday happening. They tend to feel like a slap in the face to remind us that we aren’t in control, no matter how hard we try.
And trust me, I have tried. Probably too hard. Things haven’t come easily for me. I’m somebody that has to fall flat on my face, maybe several times, before I can change things for the better. Usually that turns into projects that take much longer for me than for others, or requiring much more effort to complete.
When we feel like we’re ahead and in a good spot, they shove us back a few paces. Heck, sometimes we have to start from scratch altogether. So those daily challenges and obstacles seem very difficult to be thankful for when they create some many unnecessary complications.
But are they really unnecessary? I may have learned a lot of lessons “the hard way,” but sometimes that’s the only way they actually pound into my head and resonate. While life can feel like a middle ground on a regular basis, I flip flop from very high points and rock bottom lows. But I think those better times feel so wonderful only because I’ve seen some of the worst.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I wish I had coined that phrase, but I take no credit. While we’re all connected, our lives and situations are vastly different. Trying to find some similarities in places that are apples and oranges to each other is absolutely pointless. That will create obstacles that are, indeed, unnecessary. We can’t make those judgments without getting the full story. Just because some obstacles seem less severe than others, they are all valid. And we handle and interpret things differently. There are too many factors at play on an individual level that drawing conclusions and assumptions will only bring you pain.
Sometimes, however, opening up about our obstacles can spread awareness and provide insight into the strength of the human race. Our potential to take those difficult situations life throws at us and turn it into something incredible, turning lemons into lemonade, is awe-inspiring. It motivates us to face our own obstacles in new ways we never thought possible. The people that seem like they have everything together, that have such amazing lives, are no different from anybody else.
When our plans make unexpected changes, we can turn ourselves into victims. We ask ourselves “Why me?” I definitely have this tendency, as if life has to give some retribution back to me for all of my hardships. That I have some sort of excuse because I just “never get a lucky break.” That I’m somehow different and set apart from others because “my life sucks more than others.”
The real question we should ask ourselves in these moments is “Why NOT me?” The real obstacle in our ways is ourselves. Why should certain misfortunes hold us back? There is no valid reason why we have to play the role as a victim. We are the authors of our own stories. Why can’t we play the hero?
Despite everything I’ve endured, everything I endure on a regular basis, and everything I may encounter in the future, I am thankful for it all. I find my gratitude by adopting a mindset that is open to these moments as learning opportunities. They are not easy, but they aren’t meant to be. They test my abilities and resiliency. They build my knowledge and skills for future challenges. They ground me as just a single human being, a single piece of the mosaic of society. They teach me about the harsh realities of this world, one with visible pain and suffering. But they emphasize the ever-present goodness and humility in ourselves that always to see the value in reaching out to others, to express empathy, to truly feel.
In all honesty, what character would we build, what kind of people would we be, if everything in life was handed to us easily? That we didn’t have to work toward any of our goals or face setbacks along the way? I would say, pretty boring life. In the midst of an obstacle, no matter how big or small, I am beyond grateful for that sense of accomplishment and pride I feel in myself looking back on the other side, knowing that the best was yet to come, holding on even if it was by a thread, and knowing that I made it. That no matter how cliche it sounds, it really does get better. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. But the journey to make it there is just as important as the end result.
I’m thankful to be here today, able to talk about many of my obstacles and hopefully help others who might also be struggling, who might feel alone in the world without any hope to grasp. When we find gratitude in those struggles, that is when we can heal and overcome anything. That we can treasure the value of life.
Every life starts as a blank canvas. Every experience is a paint stroke of a various color. Sometimes the brush glides easily across the surface, but sometimes it’s just a harsh splatter. And it might look like your painting is ruined, that it is now tainted and ugly. But if you hold through, the differing splotches of color combine into a breath-taking kaleidoscope of color and experience. That is what I am grateful for.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie