Usually, when we’re in the midst of a struggle, whatever it may be, we’re only able to see the overwhelming negative. Only when the struggle is won do we realize how it’s changed us for the better. I firmly believe that out of every struggle comes something beautiful.
Here’s some personal perspective to make this case. In 2017, when I lost my job, I was devastated. Suddenly, my days were empty. What I considered my identity was turned upside down. The next five months, I remained unemployed, and in that period my entire outlook changed. I pawned jewelry, I re-examined my spending in every category, and I cut out frivolous purchases, preparing for the day my severance would dry up.
Despite the looming uncertainty, I took a pause from immediately re-entering the workforce. With no guaranteed prospects and a swiftly dwindling savings account, I decided to backpack Europe for 4 weeks. Once back in the U.S., I resumed job hunting. A few weeks into unemployment benefits and down to my last $1,000 in savings, finally, I found a job I would love.
Down-to-the-wire? Risky? Perhaps. But somehow, while I was making the choices I was making, I knew then what I also know now to be true: it will all work out. And it did. This struggle, and the struggles I endured before it, and there definitely were more of those, would prepare me for the next one.
And right now, many of us are in the midst of that struggle. Maybe thinking about your devalued retirement account, your suspended travel plans, your stagnant social life. Maybe obsessing over the headlines, or self-medicating with alcohol and junk food — I’ll be honest, a bottle of wine has become an almost-nightly habit. And there are many people in truly dire straits who have not only lost their livelihoods but have also lost friends and family members.
But, I’m here to insist: This is a moment, and moments pass. This is a season, and seasons change. I’m taking time to think on the bright side, to count my blessings and to practice gratitude, and I encourage you to do the same. (Easier said than done, perhaps.)
For one, I’m spending more carefully and thoughtfully. I’m investing in strengthening some of my relationships virtually. I’m doing things that bring me joy and feed my soul.
If you can’t think of any personal bright sides, think of societal or environmental positives. For instance, the argument that “people in need of government assistance are stupid or lazy” has been flipped on its head — because, even people who are intelligent and hard-working need help sometimes. Pollution has lifted because of the change in human habits. Schools and employers have been thrust into the technological age. The stigma of “work from home” reduced. And the bullshit that is no more: cancellation fees, change fees, late fees, to name a few. And at the very least, we will not take for granted the things we did before.
And getting through this, being a witness to this, we are setting a precedent for the unprecedented — so that when we, inevitably, must take up our next cross, we’ll be prepared, we’ll be stronger, and we’ll be more hopeful.
Stay healthy, my friends!