There is a popular phrase that we say to our parents whenever things do not work out for us – “That’s not fair!” And they always respond back, “Well, life isn’t fair.” This gets us angry because we know it is the truth, but do not want to accept it.
Utopias, which are perfect worlds, will only exist in the realms of literature, movies, and television shows. In the real world, there are some parts that feel like dystopias where there are evil rulers who place unethical laws that their citizens must follow. Even if you do not live in a dystopia, there are people struggling every day to make ends meet or get their dream job. These real-world frustrations make us angry when it takes us too long to reach our heart’s desires. We start to question if we ever will. Young-adult author Veronica Roth said, “If there’s no conflict, there are no stories worth telling – or reading.” Instead of being distressed about your struggles, treat them as stepping stones to the happy ending you are destined to have.
Veronica Roth’s quote was inspired by her best-selling young-adult book trilogy The Divergent Series. The main character in the series, Tris, lives in dystopian Chicago where people are separated by factions – five societal divisions citizens are placed in based on a person’s aptitudes and values. These factions exist in order to prevent individuality. Tris ends up being a threat to society when her test says that she is divergent, meaning that she belongs to all five factions.
Tris has to lie to everyone to avoid being discovered, figure out where she belongs, and worry about what will happen if the government finds out about her rare status. After Tris chooses one of the most ruthless factions to belong in, she has to prove to her leaders and to herself that she has what it takes to be part of that faction. She also has to deal with the challenges that come her way by those who want to take her down.
This story would be pretty boring if Tris took her aptitude test and simply belonged in a faction like everyone else. There would be no conflict and everything would work out perfectly. If everything happened the way Tris wanted, then what would be the point of turning the page? The same can be said if Bella from Twilight fell in love with a human or if Katniss from The Hunger Games did not take her sister’s place in a battle royale game show.
But, enough about young adult fiction! Let’s go back to the subject about how unfair life can be. We are constantly struggling with making sure everything goes our way. When it doesn’t, we feel like being mad at the world and accusing life of being out to get us. Despite all of the battles that we have to face on a daily basis, we need to remind ourselves that these things happen to teach us something.
We all have circumstances in our lives that we cannot control. We cannot control what family we are born into, where we were born and raised, losing a loved one, developing a physical or mental illness, and more. When we deal with so much, we succumb to these circumstances. There may be people who abuse drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain, hang out with bad people, or let our negative emotions go so out of control without treatment that we develop depression.
In another young adult novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it is said, “If we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.” You can better your life by surrounding yourself with a healthy environment, positively influential people, and continue to improve yourself. Character development is a quality that readers love to see in their characters. You have the chance to better develop yourself and lure readers in on your journey.
Being a strong person is also another character trait readers would love about you. Instead of hiding in the face of adversity, we should face these obstacles head-on! For example, when 13-year-old surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a shark, she did not stray away from her dream of being a pro-surfer and pity herself. What kind of story would that be to read or hear about? It would be really sad and disappointing to see someone we are rooting for to give up over a circumstance that was beyond her control. Hamilton did not let these circumstances define her. What defined her was getting back on her surfboard and teaching herself to surf again with one arm. That is a true story that gives us hope.
Another conflict we come to terms with in books and real-life is closing ties between people we used to trust. It poses as a great drama to read about but not the best to experience in the real world. For example, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron’s rat of 12 years, Scabbers, was really a human named Peter Pettigrew who betrayed Harry’s parents and gave them away to their murderer.
If you have been betrayed by friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone else in your life, you know the feeling hurts and makes you not want to trust anyone. You may also feel like you will not have any luck going forward in friendships. One thing that we can do after being betrayed is cutting these people out of our lives. The takeaway from this is being more thankful for the people who are still in your life who have treated you the way you want to be treated. Our friends and family also know how to comfort us when we get hurt and show us what love really is. After all, like it was said in the book, A Walk to Remember, “Without suffering, there’d be no compassion.”
One more valuable lesson we can learn from the unfairness of life is to be grateful for what we do have. We seem to think that because we do not have everything we want when we want it that we will never get it. Well, if we instantly got everything we wanted when asked, it would be a pretty short story. Where’s the journey? Where’s the perseverance? Where’s the part where we karate chop the barriers that prevent us from achieving our goals? Where’s the cast of odd yet inspiring characters that help us get there? Instead of focusing so much on achieving perfection and on our misfortunes, we need to think of the people and events that have shaped our lives. Be thankful for your friends, family, health, shelter, and your life.
When I look back on my own life, I tend to complain a lot about what I wish was different. I wish I lived in a city, that I was an actress and a writer, that I could afford to travel all the time and never have to worry about finances ever again. The obstacles I am facing is that my laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) brings tension to my voice when I talk and I live far away from where I can get work in what I am interested in. Instead of letting myself get depressed, though, I think about what I do have. I have my friends and family that make me feel loved every day, a freelance writing job and a part-time job at a department store that I enjoy. The things I want to accomplish are not easy, but I refuse to believe they are impossible.
If you are reading this essay right now, I doubt you would like this story to end with me saying I plan on giving up. You may be able to get through this essay faster that way, but it would still be a dull story to read. I have to believe that the reason my life’s goals have not occurred yet is because I still have a story to tell of struggles, heartache, mistakes, and understanding. Fun, right? But once I get through all of those hurdles, readers will get to know a woman who dared not to give up and got her happy ending no matter how long it took for the story to end.
We all have a story to tell where nerve-wracking conflicts shape us to be the people we are today. We need to believe that everything will be worth it in the end once we write our own stories and fill these pages with the drama-inducing, heart-wrenching, conflicting, and beautiful moments. In the end, we will become the heroes and not the victims of our own stories.