Heard a joke once: Man goes to a doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. The doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” The man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci. ― Alan Moore


The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” really plays a major role in this story, and in life, generally.


Surviving Assault


I think one of the biggest lessons this pandemic has taught me is that it’s really important to find meaning in everything that you experience, even if it seems like a complete mess on the surface.


In 2017, I was physically and sexually assaulted by a man from my past. I felt broken and defeated beyond repair, and so, as a result, I isolated myself and was unable to work.


Solitude tore away at my soul. For more than a year, all I could see in the mirror was a stranger, one that was defeated and got what he’d deserved.


I was plagued by the question I so desperately wanted to ask men like him: “What drives men like you to do what it is you do? To ruin lives, to violate the essence of their very being?”


Looking back, the reason I wasn’t able to function as properly as I wanted to was that I would often waver in my convictions. Deep in my heart, I wasn’t willing to fight to become the man that survived the horrific experience. Most importantly, though, I didn’t know what I was fighting for. I didn’t have enough faith in myself. I had no noticeable purpose, and your life only begins when you have a seemingly impossible goal to strive for.


The hard part is remembering one of the most important truths:


You can dwell on your own mortality with something to live, laugh and fight for, or not. Something worth fighting for always makes the battle of life worth surviving.


The hard thing about going through trauma is that you always have two choices: you either stay in the crucible because it’s easier to embrace the pain (and learn to love the fire) than the uncertainty of living past it, or you become stronger from the experience by allowing it to serve as a lesson in strength and resilience.


Understanding this allowed me to uncover the greatest truth: every challenge we go through requires a different version of who we are.


The person who was assaulted? Of course, he wouldn’t make a good employee or live a functional life. He was complicit in his own misery by thinking he was nothing more than a victim.


His world revolved around the abuse. But a man who’s willing to take pride in who he’s trying to become rather than focus on what happened in the past? That man might just stand a fighting chance in the real world.


You’re not behind — you’re just living a different life.” —  Luba Sigaud.


That quote (and article) reminded me of how far I’ve come. For so long all I was doing was comparing my journey to that of others. It doesn’t make sense. It never did, I suppose, but I think by nature most of us are our own worst enemy.


Rachel Hollis was right. Comparison really is the death of joy.


Every hardship, every trauma, every setback teaches one main thing:


Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.


Because pain is a teacher, it means I’m the student. I never thought of defeating the pain because I understood it as something I can never be more than, since it’s the one teaching me the lessons.


I was wrong.


Only the student has hope of defeating the master.” —  Chinese proverb.


Suffering is something you choose to carry with you by not letting go of the ghosts of the past. Ghosts that are people you lost, crucibles you've gone through, memories you won't let go of, etc.


There's more to things than meet the naked eye.

 

There was once a sickly young boy who wanted to learn martial arts from the best instructor he could find. His parents supported his wish, so they helped him on his quest to find the right institution.


Once they found the right teacher for the job, they sent their child away for a year. They knew he would return as the man they always knew he could be. Once he got there, the boy’s instructor introduced herself and told him to slap a bowl of water.


Confused, the boy asked why?, but would only get a one-word response: Control.


Month after month, the boy would do the same thing. Ultimately, he became fed up and returned home. When his parents asked him what he’d learned, he held his head in shame.


“Nothing but how to slap water. Look.” He took his hand and slapped the table. It broke in half and scattered into many pieces.” He looked at his hand in complete shock. He'd gotten stronger. His paw had the strength of iron, metaphorically speaking.


We may not always understand what our experience is trying to teach us, but under the right circumstances, with intense focus, our inner-strength is revealed.


I think that life only asks of us what it thinks we can handle. We may think we were defeated, we may think some experiences are redundant, but we’re not. They’re not. We can’t be.


We can know defeat without being defeated. And redundancy? It’s so much more important than we think, because it can teach you a lot about the power of control, repetition, focus, patience, and finding inner strength. You need to find meaning, and you need to be the meaning. You need to be enough.


You know how an egg has to hatch before the chicken can come into this world? Pain breaks our shell just the same. We can only reach our potential when we’re up to conquering our challenges.


After all, suffering can teach you a lot about what it means to be a human being. It is only through darkness that we learn the value of light and it is only through the light that we can truly value the lessons darkness has been trying to teach us.


Victimhood Will Poison Your Soul


Even on the hardest days, I was willing to stay at the rink and push through injuries or setbacks to feel like I accomplished more that day than I did the day before. Loving what you’re doing and having a clear image in your mind of the goals you’re trying to accomplish is something that has always helped me to push through hard times. — Jenny Kirk, An Interview


Successful people understand that happiness isn’t a destination, but a way of travel. With action, happiness becomes the by-product.


Why is this so?


Because there’s a price that one must pay for anything they desire to obtain. The price can vary; maybe it asks of your time or energy, maybe it asks for a substantial sacrifice by putting everything you have and everything you are on the line.


At the end of the day, you can only truly know and appreciate something by comparison to its opposite.


An instructor once taught me that one can only survive if they look forward, not back.


Your mind is a magnet. What you fear, you’ll inevitably attract and what you think about manifests itself into reality.


Ralph Waldo Emerson said it the best:


For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.


If there’s anything I leave you with today, it’s a simple reminder: if you’re reading this, it means you’ve survived. Be proud of that. Our choices are a reflection of who we are, so always remember to live authentically in spite of what others may say. Don’t blend in and lose yourself. Take a chance on standing out and being unique, because that’s what’ll get you far in life. We only have one life to live, after all. No guts, no glory. You must fight through the night in order to see that beautiful sun rise.


You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world, and as you walk through those doors today, you will only have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart. — Jim Carrey