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Let's talk about resilience

I have always been an “everything happens for a reason” person. About six months ago, though, my faith in that mantra was challenged almost irrevocably. Nearly all at once and without warning, the foundation and careful planning I’d built for myself was upended. My new job wasn’t what I’d hoped. My relationship ended out of the blue. The cross-country move I was preparing for fell through. Friends I thought I’d have for the rest of my life did me terribly wrong. My health had taken a sharp, negative turn.

Needless to say, that was not what I had envisioned when I graduated college two months prior. My life felt like a joke of cosmic proportions. What could possibly be the reason for all of that?

Bouncing back from that period of time was the hardest thing I have ever done. It felt hopeless, but getting stuck on those setbacks wasn’t an option. Time always moves forward, and we have to, too.

So, insert resilience: deciding to persist, despite being completely pummeled by circumstance. Picking ourselves up and continuing on, no matter how difficult it may be, and no longer giving the things that challenge us the satisfaction of keeping us down.

We can’t control much of what happens to us, but we can control how we handle it. At first, it might be a lot of trial and error. It was for me–along with quite a few new obstacles kicking me back to where I’d started. But I kept reminding myself that something good would come of all the struggle–I just didn’t yet know what it would be. And while I’m still waiting for some of that good to show up, I know one thing for sure: I have never learned more about who I am and what I am capable of than when I was in the thick of those immense obstacles.

Challenges in life are disorienting, painful, and make us ask why me? over and over again. But when we look back at them, we often realize that much of the struggle served a greater purpose than we could see at the time. We are rewarded for our resiliency when we get to meet the version of ourselves it creates. We are wiser and stronger than we were before the hardship. We become better equipped to handle the hard times life throws our way—and we gain a perspective from those difficulties that helps us find a greater appreciation for the good.

An affirmation to try: I welcome the challenges I face as opportunities for growth. I am not defined by my setbacks and they will not last forever.

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