I’m not one to romanticize pain or adversity, neither do I see it as a prerequisite for success or self-actualization. However, I acknowledge the role that pain or adversity plays in shaping who we are and the outcome of our lives in the long run. I believe there’s tremendous value in reading about triumph over adversity or the seeking of it, because to anyone who has ever been pressed down by crushing circumstances, these stories offer assurance that it is possible to have a deeply fulfilling life despite the cards one has been dealt; secondly, because these stories destroy the privilege narrative of our assumptions that those who have attained notable success or achievements must be living very beautiful lives free from any form of trouble.
Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. I believe that in the interval between failure or success, between who we wish to be and who we are at present, there may be pain, anxiety, struggle, hardship, envy, even humiliation; suffering comes sometimes because what we need to master the elements of fulfillment will not come easily. And it helps to keep us from withdrawing prematurely from challenges and circumstances that we would have overcome if we are prepared with the understanding that the life we hope for and the things we desire would not come easily, it’s like anything of value demands some form of hardship.
If there is a meaning to life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. The way a man accepts his life and carries his cross, gives him the opportunity – even in the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life. He could choose to be brave, undaunted, dignified and unselfish, or in the fight for survival he could choose to forget his dignity and reduce himself to nothing more than an animal. I believe that every circumstance or experience presents us with the opportunity to reach or become a better version of ourselves, but it depends on the choice we make and the attitude we choose. I learned that to find meaning in life, in the pain we’ve endured, we have to be prepared to answer to life by answering for our own lives because we’re constantly questioned by life in every circumstance: who do you choose to become? What do you choose to do? How do you see this?
Hope doesn’t mean denying current realities or the things that have been lived, but to me it means a broader perspective that focuses on possibilities even in the midst of difficulties, possibilities that demand we act and contribute.