Dear beautiful readers,
I come to you tonight with a confession. Are you ready? Here it is: 80% of the blog posts I write are inspired by conversations I have with other humans. Bonus confession, I don’t mind this at all. In fact, I adore it and am honored to be a part of such conversations, and I hope they never cease to influence me.
A very long time ago (as in two days ago) I was speaking with a friend who has suddenly found himself in a difficult situation. The sudden increase of work due to an emergency paired with a decrease of time has left him overwhelmed for an indefinite amount of time. At a point I told him the one positive outcome of difficult experiences is how you get through them becomes a testament to you character. That comment in turn ignited my brain and caused me to think about my entire existence, because that’s just how my mind works.
As a person who has identified as female most of her life, one of the phrases that was quickly wrapped around my throat was, “beauty is pain.” Generally, at least in my experience, this refers to leg waxing, eyebrow plucking, uncomfortable yet pretty shoes and flattering yet annoying clothing. I personally have always thought this to be a terrible way to live for at least my own life, and instead aspire to a balance between aesthetic happiness and physical comfort.
What I did not expect was for the cliche phrase to morph into something far more personal to me over time. You see, I am a human who has lived though a variety of pain throughout her life so far. I have experienced the pain of my chronic illnesses and sicknesses, the pain of abuse, various types of loss and then some. Though I wish I was not comprised of so much past and current pain, I can’t help but think that it has brought me beauty, for every story I have of overcoming pain has shed a little more light on the person I wish to be within my core.
When I was in college I had a vibrant communications teacher named Dr. Hannigan. He was completely unique in every regard. In fact, he alone that inspired me to pursue communications in hopes that I would make an impact through my own voice. While many of his classes were memorable, one of the most impactful was when he told the class that one’s true character comes out in great times of distress. A really good way to get to know someone, he said, was to go through a terrible event with them.
I’ll be entirely honest; I have not always loved the version of myself that has surfaced during some of the worst parts of my life, and I’m not proud of some of the things I have done in order to cope with my suffering. As I grow older I am trying to become more introspective, not in order to be overly critical of myself, but rather to fashion myself into the very best version of me.
I tend to think of human beings as characters in video games. The best games (in my opinion) put creativity into the backstory of the characters, so that the game becomes much more than beating obstacles and fighting on to the next level. The passion behind the fight, what has lead the character to find the strength to venture into danger, and what they have to gain from beating each level is what makes characters memorable and worth being attached to.
Much like characters of the fictional stories I love, we all have backstories as well, and they play a tremendous part in our existence. In video games, sometimes a character may summarize a story while more elaborate games will literally take you back to relive the memory in vivid detail. This same thing happens to people. When we become close with one another we reveal our histories. Some memories are glimpses while others are intricately recalled, and all of them add to who we are as a whole. They also give explanation to pieces of our personalities, helping us to understand one another on many levels rather than remaining stagnant on the surface.
The stories that come from our struggles show others and ourselves our strength and what we can do with it, especially in times when we were unsure if we could do anything at all. Not to mention, everyone loves a good story. These stories are monuments to our resilience and our passion for our lives, and though they do not come without great effort, nothing is more beautiful than the courageous people we have become through the suffering.
For every day we thought we could not survive, we made it through. For every mountain of obstacles that overwhelmed us, we fought to take back control. For every broken heart, sickness, hospitalization and worst days of our lives, we may have not made it easily, but we have indeed made it, and that should be celebrated and appreciated.
Whatever your story, I wish you all the courage you need to make it through to the next part.
Accident or not, admit it; it was a little awesome.
~Dustin, Stranger Things (don’t judge me for re-watching it!)