Across time and cultures, it has long been acknowledged that our lives exist on a pendulum of hardship and prosperity, swinging from one end to the other throughout our journey on Earth. As many schools of thought have put it: there cannot be light without dark, good without evil, or joy without suffering. For some people, the scales seem arbitrarily unbalanced, weighing heavily in favour of prosperity with very little hardship. I used to find these anomalies a target of my envy, but currently find them to be the most pitiable of all because I now know that someone cannot appreciate the true heights of euphoria without first experiencing the depths of despair.
Veronica Roth said it best when she said, “If there’s no conflict, there are no stories worth telling – or reading.” We seek out and voraciously consume stories that pit relatable heroes against unfavourable odds, knowing that the conflict the hero experiences will only make the conclusion that much more satisfying. In their stories, we see the hero’s journey that resides in ourselves reflected, giving us the opportunity to live vicariously through them. Meanwhile, in our everyday lives, we can resist adversity and settle into our roles, passionlessly complacent.
That is why we need these stories so badly. For those that have accepted the comforts of mediocrity, they serve as an anaesthetic, numbing us of the inanity of our lives. On the other hand, for those who are struggling, they show us what we are capable of, how we can become vessels of greatness through overcoming the hardship and adversity that life throws at us. Sure, we can accept the small satisfaction of everyday heroism by following familiar yet safe paths, but without conflict, we can never be truly remarkable.
Conflict brings our strongest, most adaptable qualities into the light. It shows us what is for us, and what isn’t. Without conflict, we are never given the opportunity to rise to our true potential – the potential that we shy away from when we choose to toe the line of what is socially acceptable. It is the catalyst that allows us to grow as people and the challenges we face are the building blocks that fortify our character. It is almost as if, as Roth aptly put it, without conflict, there would be no story to tell at all.
In fiction as in life, we love an underdog story. Not only of Harry Potter meeting his destiny by rising up and defeating Voldemort, but of J.K. Rowling rising up against her depression and making something of herself. We empathize with the underdog’s setbacks, celebrate their triumphs, and trust that in the end, everything will be wrapped up in a pretty package tied with a happily ever after bow. Even if it doesn’t, we would rather follow them through it than hear about someone born into prosperity who never experiences any difficulty, because we subconsciously understand that it is the journey that makes the destination meaningful.
Success is best when it’s savoured, and it is disappointment that sweetens the flavour. It’s hard to recognize it while we are in the process of overcoming our hardships, but if success is all that you have ever known, you can never truly appreciate it the way that you can when it is earned through perseverance, constitution of character, and discipline. So, we should try to savour our individual journeys, even if they seem more challenging than those of our more privileged peers, because one day, it will all be worth it. One day you will wake up right where you are supposed to be and at that moment it will be clear that all those instances of suffering served to intensify a single moment of bliss. Our lives are preparing us for a greatness we cannot even imagine.
Eloquent, prescient and insightful 🙂 This could be the foreword of a how to guide on living mindfully! I’m reading a book right now called How to Be Alone and it lands on similar ideas – that without our struggle we’d be incapable of experiencing our greatest and fullest selves. Thanks for writing this, it put me in an inspired mood!
A great perspective on the upside of things commonly viewed as just having downsides. Perspectives like this help to get more out of life’s challenges.
Experiences in life are either a conflict being made aware (whether it’s a struggle or acknowledgment) or overcome. Any experience, no matter how large or small, familiar or unfamiliar, is never the exact same as any other experience, and it only adds to our wealth of knowledge and understanding. Not everyone’s experience leads them to the same conclusions or lessons learned. It’ll always be a natural and crucial part of the human experience and history to observe, incorporate, and interact on the things and people we encounter.
Incrediably thoughtful and insiteful.
Well played and well written. Brilliant and inspired. Great use of language and choice words. Overall a wonderful message that should be shared and understood.
Fantastic insight as to the struggle and difficulty of unprivileged life especially in aspects that many may consider mundane. The personal growth that comes with taking the more challenging path rather than that easily handed to us improves us on a physical, spiritual and mental level and prepares us for future hardships and obstacles. This article is the epitome of why the path less traveled and more conflicting is enriching to our lives.
This is so well written!!! This reminds me of the biosphere experiment where a mini version of our planet was created and observed to see how systems interacted with each other. The trees were found to be weak, immature and easily broken, although they still grew tall-they had no strength. It was discovered that the lack of wind in the biosphere caused this. The trees who faced hardship like wind are the strongest and most resilient. Love this lesson!
Wow, thank you for making me aware of that experiment. I would have never made that correlation otherwise. It’s really fascinating to watch the patterns that occur throughout nature and draw parallels. Now when I’m feeling beat down I can remind myself to be like a tree 😊
Well said and well written.
Thank you 🙏
As someone who has been dealing with their own journey, I find this very uplifting and encouraging. This article is quite relatable and very well written. It helps us to realize that sometimes it’s okay to struggle and that with overcoming that struggle we can learn and grow as a person.
Wonderfully put. You can’t truly love until your heart is broken, you don’t know what you had until you’ve lost it, you don’t miss them until they’re gone. All encouraging but not as eloquently put. 👏🏼
This had alot of very well written sentences. Where I was taken back and i really enjoyed the word play.
Very true! The brights aren’t as bright without knowing how dim the darks can be, life is meant to be experienced through the full spectrum of emotions.
Profound and beautifully written
Excellent. Clear, direct, an aggressively expressed opinion without being condescending or pious. I feel her belief in what she writes.
Very well said! I agree wholeheartedly with the message you are conveying. Conflict is the spice of life.
I especially enjoyed the line: “Success is best when it’s savoured, and it is disappointment that sweetens the flavour.”
Wonderfully written, thank you for sharing!
Eloquently written. Simple to understand, yet still rich in idea and perspective.
A very wonderful read. I love how you highlight that going through stuggles in life shape you as person and make you better overall and more understanding. Makes me feel good to think that we all go through a hero’s journey.
Wow. This is very in-depth and insightful. Very well thought out and articulate wording. What an astonishing and aspiring young writer you are. I can visualize you someday lecturing on subjects like this. Bravo Christina. I look forward to reading more pieces from you and picking your brain someday
I was once asked, why I talk about “the bad” so much and after I thought about it, I replied that perhaps it’s because there is nothing good. The whole idea of good is really the absence of something bad out a worse fate. I like to try to challenge this thought and to think that maybe these could be something good on it’s own with no bad involved but I still haven’t come up with anything. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only person who thinks about where the existence of our contentment really comes from. Even if it’s not good lol. Well put together.