The Growing Pains Of Life: From Hardship To Happiness

by Brendan Marshall

At 26, I often sit and wonder how I got to where I am. Yes, that sounds trite and sappy to use as an opening line, but you do, too. In fact, we all do. Reflection is healthy and necessary to put our thoughts and ideas into perspective. At times, I wrestle with why the rollercoaster of emotions can take such a toll on a day-to-day basis, to the point where it physically hurts.

That’s not to say, “Ohh, my life is so hard!” But we quickly realize that most hardships don’t take hold lightly. Suddenly, as these thoughts went bouncing around my head, I smiled and though of two words that changed it all: growing pains.

Life is beautiful in its simplicity, but can appear so complicated while caught up in its webbing. We live for the moments that fill our hearts and minds with joyful feelings and rewards – those natural highs. But there also lies the reality of those ill-fated occurrences with the ability to strike at any moment. Likewise, we are only able to protect ourselves so much from the perils this world brings – everything from insect bites to broken hearts.

The things we cannot control are equally a part of the ebb and flow of life as are their pleasant counterparts. The cliché, “What does not kill us only makes us stronger,” gains its popularity and reputation from the millions of success stories of those who have hit rock bottom and bounce back up.

It is unfortunate to hear people complain helplessly about situations they are actually able to control and learn from in a positive way. Imagine converting the energy used to dwell on something and creating a constructive plan for progress that builds to eventual success.

Own this existence, cherish this opportunity, accept responsibility for your decisions and live up to everything you have earned.  You are going to feel discouraged.  You are going to feel beat up because that is an enormous part of being human.  Each day presents a new chance to do something great or work towards a new goal.  The pain and uncomfortable feelings you experience are signs of strength, as weakness leaves the body. Embrace it, soak it up, and encourage as much growth as possible.

Do not be afraid to ask for help if needed.  Everyone is on a personal path and faces unique challenges, but no one is in this alone. Understand first what it is you are seeking. It is a focused mindset, something deep down that we all possess.

I’ll share a quote that has stuck with me over the past year: “If you aren’t exhausted at the end of the day, you aren’t doing enough.” We all need our rest, and there are often times when unproductive activities take preference, but inactivity is just that – inactive.  The life you want is not going to come easily, so go out there and get it. Do not fear the pain that comes with growth, because the rewards on the other end are more bountiful than you know.

A great, yet exceptionally difficult, part of life is continuing onward without ever knowing where you will end up.  The path will inevitably encounter fear, pain and sadness that not everyone is equipped to handle.  My guess is that if you are reading this, you are not only equipped, but also willing to take on the challenges ahead.  Appreciate the many periods of elation that life has to offer, but remember that in times of pain and hardship, you are simply making room for the good.

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