You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you. -Mary Tyler Moore
For some, facing adversity for being who you are is a daily struggle.
Being seen and judged by the appearance of your skin or by the expression of who you are is a doorway to self-destruction when it doesn’t fit into societies norms.
It’s never right to tell someone that they’re unworthy or less than because they’re this way. But they do, and overtime it begins to diminish the spirit of that person to the point where the act of living becomes unbearable.
One should never apologize for being who they are.
So how do we deal with that? Moreover, why is it important that we deal with that?
There comes a time in our lives when we see that being ourselves is the only way we can live, and that there’s no other way.
As we grow through expressing that to the world externally, we learn how to deal with people’s differences internally. In time, we learn how to be our best selves because of it.
It’s imperative that people be authentic, because there’s some person out there just like you, that needs to know that their suffering is universal. And that being you is the greatest gift you give yourself.
Being seen as less than, is something that we all experience, and it’s these personal experiences of dealing with adversity that make us better emotionally and spiritually.
We can’t change how others perceive us, all that matters is how we react to it.
We are the product of what we react to.
What we want, is to cultivate relationships with people who accept us just as we are and to take back control of our personal destiny. And to do that we have to learn to control ourselves in the face of adversity.
It’s normal to want to regress at times like these, but this is the time to actually stand out. In the end, it’s about you and your well-being.
The lessons I learned through life helped me to understand that, Yes there are people out there who love you, and yes you will take back control, but there’s some internal work you have to do first.
Here are a few ways I learned to remain authentic in the face of adversity:
I Built My Self-Worth
Rewind a couple years back and you will find a sad girl that derived her worth from others. That girl was me. I was 21 at the time and I cared more about the opinions of strangers about me over those that were closest to me.
In fact, thinking back at it now, I was purposely finding people that saw me as less than.
Whenever someone would compliment me, I would just shrug it off as untrue.
What I was looking for was validation into the way that I already saw myself.
Unworthy of love and belonging
Not good enough
Lonely for the rest of my life
Less than everyone
At the time, I had no inclination that I could reverse the tapes of self-worth to benefit me. It wasn’t until I was climbing up from rock bottom, did I fundamentally realize that If I was going to make it out at all, I had to start with learning to love myself.
It was awkward at first, and I’ll go more into ways we can build our self-worth in later posts. But I wanted to get to the root of what I learned from this, which was:
You are never what others say you are, You are what you believe yourself to be.
And that as long as I was grounded in my self-worth, I knew that other people’s words toward me, was just a reflection of how they saw themselves.
It had nothing to do with me at all.
I Embraced My Imperfections
It’s said that “the best revenge is to prove them wrong.” I don’t agree with this at all.
What it says is that you have to work hard for the approval of others. When you should only work hard for you.
The people that you are trying to “prove wrong”, are the people that will always disagree with you even if you do succeed.
You see, Some people are so blinded by their judgement of Who You Are, that they choose not to see your character.
Most of the time, they already knew they weren’t gonna like you anyway.
We have to accept that some people won’t change their opinions of us, no matter what we do.
And this for someone who isn’t aware, will work themselves tirelessly for a need that won’t go fulfilled. Rejection is self destructive and it’s inevitable in this case.
What I’ve come to understand, is that the only way I was going to win, was to embrace myself in all my flaws and imperfections. And that bettering these flaws, was for my own betterment, no one else’s.
This is important, because people who see you differently, will aim for your imperfections. They want you to feel insecure about yourself, that’s how they win.
Embracing our imperfections is another way of being self-compassionate, and it not only gives us our personal power back, but we foster kindness for even those that oppose us.
Rather then aiming and working to please the crowd that doesn’t want us, we are more open to the opportunities of allowing people to love us as we are.
There are people out there that love us, that love YOU, as you are.
When you practice self-compassion, you open yourself to allowing them into your life.
Remember That Your Friends Are There for You.
This is probably the big hitter for me when handling adversity. It’s this knowing that I can’t handle obstacles on my own.
The author of Start with Why, Simon Sinek, shared about his observation of how they trained new recruits in the military. The soldiers, he explains, had to face certain obstacles specifically designed for teamwork. One soldier alone could not pass the course, he had to work with another.
It drives a fundamental lesson, that though you can win most obstacles, you can’t win all obstacles without the help of a team.
This is a great analogy to adversity in life.
When it comes to facing adversity, most of us are warriors. We can handle almost anything you throw at us. But we’d be lying if we said it never got to us, because there are some days that it does.
If it weren’t for my closest friends, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through these days.
I whole-heartedly believe in the power of cultivating close friendships.
To be able to share who I am to the world, comes with setbacks of people that see me differently.
That’s a given.
But much of how I’ve been able to put myself out there, and do the things I’ve wanted to do comes from the support of friends that love me unconditionally.
These friends believe in me as much as I believe them too.
We’re a very small group of friends, that make sure we give time to each other. Usually movie dates, drinking nights, or nail and spa days. It’s the spiritual rejuvenation needed to face the week ahead.
Close friendships are extremely important in facing adversity.
Brene Brown put the importance of friends as an analogy to a gladiator and audience in an arena.
That the only people whose opinions should actually matter, are those in your close circle. Not the one in the cheap seats. We spend our time fighting for the approval of others, that we forget the people that are rooting for us now. They’re the ones that dust you off after you’ve been knocked down and say:
“Yeah it sucked ass, and yeah it was as bad as you thought it was gonna be. But get up, cause you’re going back in”.
And it’s this type of relationship that’s the reminder of why it’s important to keep going.
They’re my reminder that Who I Am in this world, has a purpose greater than the adversity I experience.
It’s normal for us to want to curl back when judgement is being flown. But when we realize that there are people who love us, that pick us up to keep going, and that will always be there for us no matter what, we can pick ourselves up and move forward twice as strong.
My friends are a big part of my life in facing adversity.
For them I am truly grateful.
Continuing to learn and grow
I’ve come to find that nothing is greater then getting to the end of my life knowing that I’ve lived authentically regardless of the adversity I’ve faced.
For me, the definition of what it means to live is knowing that everyday, I’m becoming a more kinder and courageous me.
A kinder person to everyone, even those that oppose me, and more courageous in chasing my dreams regardless of judgement.
We are all dreamers, and in order to take that leap into making them come true, we have to be willing to put ourselves out there.
To have the courage to fail over and over again until we succeed. And the courage to remain authentic. Regardless of the judgements that we face.
Adversity makes us better.
What are some ways you face adversity and remain true to who you are? I would love to hear in the comments below. If you like what you read please feel free to share, and subscribe to receive more feel-good content.