It’s no secret that I’ve made it a personal challenge to lean into my struggle.
Perhaps that seems like a strange goal, but I’ve had a couple of years of change and upheaval in my life, and I’ve learned that the obstacles don’t go away because we deny them or run from them. The only way we can get past the struggle is to go straight through it, and all of our resistance only delays the inevitable. We cannot escape the changes coming, and we can only choose how we’ll handle the challenges we face.
I remember a few short years ago, when I sat frozen inside of a marriage, I knew that I needed to leave. I spent years caught in my own indecision, suffering because of my inability to go back to the way things were and frozen at the very idea of moving forward. Staying in that place of suffering, however, was a short-term solution that simply couldn’t continue. I began to feel myself breaking apart. My stress level stayed at an all-time high, and I could not see a way out.
One of my biggest challenges was reconciling the life I had imagined with the life I was actually living, and then facing the idea of a life beyond my imaginings. I had to open myself up to an unknown future, and perhaps that is an exciting prospect for some people.
It was terrifying! I didn’t want to be single in my 30s, lost in a dating culture that had changed a lot in the decade that I was married. I had no frame of reference for being a single mother, as my parents are high school sweethearts who are still happily married. I didn’t know how I would relocate or start a new career on a schedule that childcare would dictate. I didn’t know how to do any of that.
And then one day, I decided that none of the details mattered. I didn’t know how I would survive, but I knew that if I wanted to do that—to survive—I needed to leave. And it had to be soon. So I filed for divorce and started packing boxes. I picked a town, found an apartment, and started looking for jobs. It was scary, but it was also a relief. The moment I stopped struggling against the change, I found an unexpected measure of peace. And I also found an enormous reserve of courage.
In the past couple of years, I’ve faced challenges. Nearly every time, I went back to my old ways of avoidance, denial, and resistance. Then I tried leaning in. I just accepted how I felt and where I was in life and leaned into it. And it was still a challenge, but somehow a manageable one, once I stopped trying to resist it. So I offer up to the universe these quotes on struggle, change, and surrender:
1. “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
2. “The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” ~ Bill Clinton
3. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
4. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
5. “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.” ~ Charles Darwin
6. “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anaïs Nin
7. “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ~ Marilyn Monroe
8. “Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you…yet, someone survived. You can do anything you choose to do. ~ Maya Angelou
9. “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” ~ Deepak Chopra
10. “You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” ~ Brene Brown
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Vimeo still
Editor: Travis May