The Importance of Gratitude

I have spent most of my life fighting. Fighting to make it through bullying. Fighting to make it through school. Fighting to get scholarships to pay for said school. Fighting to make my way in the arts world. Fighting to survive being beaten in a relationship. Fighting to have a business that did things differently. Fighting those who wanted to take me down because I was getting ahead of them for my lack of fear to stand out in the crowd. Fighting to be the best that I could be. I have to admit, it was exhausting.

Just when it seemed like the fighting was staring to pay off and that I would get a reprieve from it, it started again. The last couple years have been the greatest fight of my life. A struggle to get to the other side of losing nearly everything. A struggle to deal with severe pain and still try to be a pleasant and motivated person. A struggle to find myself when everything I defined myself by was lost. A struggle to find the motivation to carry on when all I want to do is lay down and have the world stand still for a while. Carrying on this struggle while feeling alone is a difficult thing as it gets to the point where I wondered what the point of all this struggle could be and whether it was worth even trying anymore? When it takes so much effort and it feels like half a step forward results in ten steps back, it gets discouraging.

A lot of questions as to why this struggle was bestowed on my shoulders came about. Is it so that I can be a better person? Is it so that I can learn some grand lesson? Is it so that I can be humbled? Is it so that I can be someone who is a model of strength? Is it so that I can learn to not fight? Is it to increase my depth as a human? Is it to make me more human and realize the grave imperfections in my soul?

All these questions have tumbled through my brain many times and they still tumble. What I have learned through all this fighting though is to find gratitude. To be thankful that I am still alive at the end of all this. To be grateful that I didn’t just give up and throw in the towel because it was easier than dusting myself off after getting walloped to the ground and strangled literally and metaphorically. To be thankful that I have the fortitude to survive things that should have ended me.

I try to be thankful for the opportunities that have come out of all this. The insight into who I am which used to be equated with what I do. Now these things are their own separate definitions in my life. The insight that what doesn’t kill me truly makes me stronger and can leave some pretty awesome  metaphorical and physical scars as souvenirs to remind me that I am able to survive. The insight that things could be worse as this journey – though tremendously difficult at times – could also not be happening and I could be cold in the ground instead. That would be worse than the challenges I get to face.

I choose the wording “get to” as I am trying to look at all this as opportunities for growth – sometimes not growth that I wanted to experience, but growth none the less. There are always going to be struggles. Whether they be in professional, personal, or spiritual life, they will exist. They give rise to better things even though they can feel devastating in the moment: a better ability to deal with loss, a stronger belief in self, a stronger sense of worthiness, greater conviction to succeed. I choose to feel grateful for this life I get to live.

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