Take my dear friend Andrea and her dad Lucky, for example. Now, I've been honored to call Andrea one of my closest friends since meeting her in fall of 2006. She, Margaret, and I are what you may deem "inseparable" in college. The three of us were kinda an unlikely trio, as we're all pretty different personality-wise, but our common bond of loving life and laughing allowed us to be three peas-in-a-pod. I am certain that college would not have been as much fun, and I may not have done as well, if it wasn't for their presence in my life.
Andrea (known as "Louie") and her dad were recently chosen for Bear Grylls "Get Out Alive" television show, touted as the ultimate survival test. Over 8 episodes, the contestants went through a series of extremely intense challenges in the wilderness of New Zealand to see if they had what it takes to survive in an emergency situation. Like, seriously outrageous stuff. Climbing mountains, traversing glaciers, eating maggots, drinking your own urine kind of intense.
You now understand how different Andrea and I really are. She's tough in the classiest way possible. I sat on the couch biting my nails and cowering, my stomach twisting in knots as I watched her overcome her fears and literally conquer mountains with a smile on her face. Because she's definitely afraid of heights and still managed to scale a mountain, jump out of a helicopter, cross a crevice on a single rope. I'm wondering how difficult that must have been for her, how demanding of a situation she found herself staring into, and the mental courage it must have taken to overcome these challenges. As Bear said over and over--"The wild is revealing"--and what was revealed of this team was dynamic and incredible and found the good in the worst of times.
And what else is incredible is how simply watching these contestants go through struggles, through genuine hardship in an effort to, in this case, stay alive, can be refreshingly inspiring for those who watch it. We as viewers put ourselves in their shoes. We imagine what it must have been like to be there alongside them and attempt to survive--and then we realize we cannot imagine going through what they did. We as viewers watched 8 episodes detailing the mental and physical challenges they faced over roughly a months time, we rooted for their success, for them to come out as the team who ultimately survives. My news feed blew up yesterday as fellow Cardinals rejoiced with Lucky and Louie, celebrating their amazing success because, spoiler alert: They came out on top, as the winners of the entire season. Those of us who know this team were screaming and crying and high-fiving and rejoicing from our couches all around the US.
Not only is this absolutely incredible for this well-deserving team; it also has the capacity to give us hope. We need to allow ourselves to use other's success as inspiration. We can live vicariously through this amazing display of heart, apply their immeasurable courage to our own intense hardship and the fears we currently face in our lives. Maybe it's the fear of public speaking or apologizing to someone you know you've hurt. Maybe it's the fear that you'll fall flat on your face as you attempt to juggle the demands of life. You're battling a decision that needs to be made and are unsure how you can mentally deal with it's ramifications. You're afraid of what could happen or what might be said if you follow your passion, because it's super illogical and counter-intuitive and not many people choose that path. But not many people decide to go through the most grueling and demanding challenges a whole world away and be taped to be aired on national television either.
Be assured that even if you're not in the wilderness, everyone deals with situations where they're not sure if they'll get out alive. And just like we feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when the team we're rooting for is victorious after clearly seeing their struggles, we need to be able to recognize our own challenges in life and rejoice in overcoming them.
Life is not always pretty, and sometimes I look around and it seems like no one else is struggling. Success is easy to point out in other's lives, isn't it? Recognizing the strife it took to get to that place is not. Only by overcoming difficulties, though, can success possibly be so glorious. Lucky and Louie, their ability to stand up to the extremely difficult tasks and smile through them, or at least after them, made success so worth it. So why are we so quick to hide our own challenges in life? Pride, perhaps. I've been contemplating this since reading Anne's post over at Modern Mrs. Darcy. She so eloquently points out, "There’s no shame in the struggle: the struggle is what makes it great. The struggle is what makes it glorious."
So don't be so quick to wish away struggle, live knowing that struggle itself is the stepping stone to success. "The wild is revealing." The hard, the frustrating, the disappointing, the fear inducing, the everyday grime of life...is revealing. Embrace the struggle, push yourself to grow from it--because you're worth it. And because accomplishment feels pretty incredible when you turn around and see the mountain you've climbed to get there.