The Worthy Struggle

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“Do what you feel in your heart to be right -for you’ll be criticized for it anyway.” 

I have never been receptive to change. I have never been able to simply walk into a new environment or a new situation without first stumbling over the painfully dreadful realization that I am about to leave what is comfortable and easy for something that is new and unknown. As human beings, we tend to latch on to our opinions, ways of life and belief as a way to anchor us down in this mysterious and complex world. The unknown is scary to us, so we spend our whole lives searching and seeking things that can never be realized or obtained. Like any old cliched movie about self-discovery will tell you, it’s about the journey, because in a world that’s constantly changing and ever mysterious there just aren’t absolute answers or destinations. Just changing places, times, feelings, aspirations, goals, and people. Since everything is constantly changing, it really sucks that humans are so adverse to change.

Whenever I feel resistant to things changing for the better, I think about the worthy struggle. In other words, would I rather struggle in this stagnant place I have always been in or would I rather struggle while working towards something I care about.

I’m currently working a job that, although has a prestigious name, has no opportunities for growth, I am doing nothing that I care about and I spend most of my day surfing the web and fiddling with my rubber band ball. I’m 23 years old and have lofty goals and dreams, yet I have been in this place for a year now. I have become depressed and hopeless, and I have lost my motivation for life. I knew I needed to make a change, but when the opportunity for productive change finally came, I began to cower in fear.

I can’t speak for everyone, but in my own life I tend to hope that opportunities will simply walk into my circle of comfort. If they don’t come to me, I will reach just barely as far as my little circle will allow me and then when I find myself reaching too far, I retract immediately in fear that I am trekking too closely into dangerous territory. It’s a very self-destructive habit of mine and it creates this vicious cycle. I aspire for great things, reach out to try to get to them, retract in fear, then become depressed that I am stagnant. Then the cycle restarts.

What is so powerful about the worthy struggle is that it allows us to acknowledge that we are going to struggle regardless of the path we choose. Picking the path of progression and growth is not one of peaches and cream. It’s a difficult and rocky path with slopes, high climbs, and lined with legos on which you walk with bare feet. It will surely test your determination. However, you can struggle and fight knowing that you are working towards something better for yourself. If you stay where you know is safe, you are struggling for nothing. You are allowing your fear of failure and disappointment dictate what you are willing to do and not do. So what do you choose? You are going to struggle either way. Would you rather struggle for nothing or for something so much better than you can probably imagine?

The biggest struggle I face when pursuing new and better things is that I am worried about what others will think of me if I pursue it. Will it make my mother disappointed in me or proud? Will I look bad if I tell my family about it? Will they judge me and give me a hard time? Will other people think I’m making the right choice? Will they approve? In essence, I am constantly seeking the approval of others. And that is a crippling hindrance for so many reasons. I am living my life for other people and letting others dictate what I do like a conscious and self-aware puppet that prefers that people control her as opposed to having autonomy. It’s a sad existence, but it’s one I’ve grown accustomed to. And it’s what I must fight in order to truly be the person I want to be.

Whatever the fear is that is causing you to retract and is keeping you from taking the steps towards a better life, you must not avoid it any longer. You have to look it in the eyes and spit in its face. Recognize that it’s there and recognize that it isn’t just going to go away. You are going to have to fight with it every step of the way, and it ain’t gonna be easy, but it’s worth it.

Instead of focusing on the end goal, focus on the many steps you will have to take to get to where you want to. Focus on enjoying the journey instead of trying to get from point A to point B as painlessly as possible and always choose the worthy struggle over the struggle of regret and stagnation. Though you struggle now, you will thank yourself later.

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