“Tough times make you stronger.”
I’ve had a lot of those times over the course of my life and needless to say, I found that adage to be true. Unbeknownst to me, though, going through those tough times at a young age made me tougher and made life easier for me as I’ve gotten older.
This is how I know they made me tougher, I had friends who went through some of the same things that I went through but couldn’t quite handle them. That’s why I believe God either made me stronger than the average person, made me innately strong, and or helped me tap into my inner strength that we all as humans are blessed with.
Also, they made my life easier because one tough moment prepared me for the next tough moment which in turn made them easier to overcome. At one point I was ready for them to come because those moments challenged my character, I quickly understood they’re inevitable, and I appreciated how they were developing me into this spiritually and mentally strong being.
That’s why when I first came across this scripture I loved it:
My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways. You know that such testing of your faith produces endurance. Endure until your testing is over. Then you will be mature and complete, and you won’t need anything. — James 1:2–4
Some things that I had to endure that helped matured me, gave me strength, endurance and character were:
Deal with a void at a point in my life due to the absence of my mother and father.
During that time I was disappointed, confused, and sad. Then, I was hit with the death of my dad at the age of thirteen that just added to the emotions I was already feeling. Regardless of what I was feeling, though I never had any ill will or hate towards neither of them, I just wanted them there.
Now that I think about it, this had to be my first lesson on how to love unconditionally because unconditional love is all I had and will ever have for my parents. Dead or Alive.
Their absence also taught me that everybody go through sh*t in life and have their own personal issues that they have to conquer. My parents aren’t an exception whether I like it or not.
Growing up in the Ghetto and dealing with everything that comes with it such as,
Death. I saw my first dead body when I was seventeen. In retrospect, I can’t believe I felt nothing because it was a norm in that environment.
Being around drugs, seeing them being sold, and seeing family members and friends use them.
Seeing fights and sometimes being in them hardly ever, though. I’m usually peaceful, but don’t think I’m not I’m prepared for war. Word to Marcus Garvey.
Losing close friends to gun violence. I was losing friends at one point what felt like back to back. It got so bad that I started to feel like I was next, it really messed with my mental. Those moments taught to me value and appreciate my life and the life of others more.
Having little to almost no food in the house sometimes and making do with what we had. That meant fried Bologna sandwiches, Ramen Noodles, and so on. We basically ate. what “Black Twitter” call “struggle meals.” They were good, though.
That was just a glimpse. Growing up in the ghetto wasn’t a choice of mine, but I did have the choice to chose that I wasn’t going to be confined by it or to it. By the grace of God I wasn’t. However, it helped shape my character and personality. It taught me how to survive. It gave me some of the happiest, dopest, and memorable moments of my life. It also made determine early on what I did and didn’t want out of life.
“Growing up in the projects is one of the perfect prerequisites for life.” — Roxanne Shante
Having my feelings hurt by an individual I considered a close friend.
This “friend” accused me of one of the most disrespectful things an individual could do in a friendship — date her ex. She handled the situation immaturely and confrontationally. Honestly, I was baffled and was taken aback by her accusations.
What hurt me THE MOST, though, was that she seen me as someone who would do something like that; especially to her. I would NEVER cross that line. I hold the integrity of friendship to the highest regard. It hurt. I got over and moved on.
I use to think that once you’re friends with someone y’all are friends for life and nothing will come between that friendship. I was so young and gullible to think like that. Don’t get me wrong, that type of friendship is possible but my problem was thinking that was the case with every person I befriended.
Another tough moment for me was when
A very close family member stole nearly $2,000 worth of jewelry from me.
That was a super low blow. I simply could not believe it. I was nineteen when this happened but I cried like a baby. All I kept saying to myself was, “that’s family.” Honestly, that was the only thing that kept me from lashing out and pressing charges.
Destroying familyhood over some measly possessions wasn’t worth it. I know, I know, it’s about the principle of the situation. Hey, I left that between them, God, and Karma. I had to accept that family (some) will steal from you just as a stranger would off the street. This situation made me dislike “things,” and not put my happiness into them.
Like Wale said, “F*ck everything anybody can take from me.”
Every now and then I sit back and ask myself how was I able to get through those situations. Three things came to mind:
- My grandmother had to be unceasingly praying for me.
2. Strength is just an innate quality of mine- something I believe is a gift from God and I inherited from my mother.
3. I accepted life for what it is highs and lows, or as Lauryn Hill explained so perfectly: “Life is like peaks and valleys. Some people explain that as good times, bad times. But I actually think its learning, mastership…”
This also made me conclude that life isn’t meant to be figured out. If it was then I’m sure someone would have done that a long time ago. I believe we are here to meet and conquer life challenges and move on to the next. Besides, what are we as humans trying to figure out about life anyway? What am I trying to figure out about it? Hmmm.
Psychiatrist and Author M. Scott Peck pretty much solidified my belief in his book, The Road Less Traveled and Beyond: Spiritual Growth in an Age of Anxiety. He said:
I believe the reason we are here is to learn, which is to say, to evolve. By “evolve” I mean to progress when people learn, they are in pro-gress (move forward) as opposed to regress (move backward).