Life is difficult. This is the first sentence in the book that has changed my life the most. Gifted to me by my best friend, in the height of my grief and confusion in life, I let this sentence sink in, as I read it over and over and over again.
The fact that life is difficult is something we don’t always acknowledge or we don’t want to acknowledge. We grow up with this notion that we should breeze through life. The feeling of omnipotence we have as toddlers, later on becomes a feeling of entitlement to go through life without facing adversity. That is where our pitfalls come from. We do not acknowledge that life is a journey, a hill, it has curves and bends and ups and downs. It’s not a plateau or a flat line and it most definitely is something we earn, and not something we are entitled to!
I had a rather privileged upbringing; I lived in a beautiful bubble with all my friends, in my school and my world travels and my parents provided for me to the best of their ability. I was lucky with my education, and that my parents could afford such an education. However, what I believe my parents did a great job at, is teaching me that I have to earn these privileges, I have to work for them, and not just the monetary privileges but other privileges they gave me, like their trust, freedom of mobility (for females in the middle east that is a big thing) amongst many others.
I was taught that it is ok to make mistakes, as long as I am transparent about them and admit them, not just to get away from getting in trouble, but to learn how to correct them. I was taught that not every trial will end in success, and sometimes we will fail, we will fall, bruise and break, but how long we stay on the ground is our call, eventually we have to get up, and learn to walk again, because the world goes on, whether we lay in the trenches or get up and fight.
We earn the life we live. Circumstances are dealt to each one of us, we all deal with adversity, with pain, with loss, on different scales and proportionate to our lives; so yes, sometimes life is difficult, but it is never unfair, because we each are dealt a hand that we have a choice on how to play, we are never unlucky, we make the conscious choice of how to react.
I spent three years wallowing in anger, grief, and pain because I believed that I was “unlucky” and mad at God and the world, for dealing me a bad hand, so to say. I forgot that death, since the creation of mankind, was a constant, that parents, despite our belief, do not live forever, and that having my father in my life, with the close relationship I had with him, was a privilege and not a right. A privilege we earn through the way we treat our parents, and the way they treat us, but sooner or later, that comes to an end. I was mad for being “stuck” in Egypt, for being “unappreciated” at work, for my “bad luck” at starting my business because of the economic turbulence that hit as soon as I started.
I spent years so angry, I would scream at God in my parked car for hours, forgetting that these were only circumstances, and I was the one that chose to react with passiveness to each and every one of these situations.
I chose to lie in the trenches, scream, kick and cry without once trying to pick myself up, or see what is going on in the world around me and how I can change my situation or make the best of it.
I forgot that I am merely one person, amongst more than 7 billion people, and that the world will go on even if I choose to put my life on hold and not look beyond my problems. I felt entitled to breeze through life, and at the first bump in the road, I was paralyzed. I got angry, because it was easier, anger is always the easier choice.
I remember, I opened the book (which is called The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck) and the first line was just there staring at me: Life is Difficult. It was only then that I stopped my temper tantrum and looked at how far I had gotten in life, and how I got to where I was. I realized, that life has always been difficult, but that after every adversity there was always a sweet reward.
My father died, but he died peacefully, without pain or suffering, and one day we will all die. I could either wallow in grief for years, or grieve and be sad for as long as I need, but get up and move on with life. I decided to do something about it. I started reading more about grief, I started educating myself, I sought help, and finally I did all I can, to honor my dad’s memory and he remains the catalyst for all the success in my life.
I was mad at my job, but I realized I was privileged with education, years of experience and a world of opportunities, if I don’t like where I am, I can just leave, and look for another opportunity, the world is endless, Egypt is massive, who said I was stuck? I’ll tell you who, my mind! When I actively sought another job, I found one, I moved, so was I unlucky? No, I was simply passive! Funny enough, my interview was for a bookstore, and they asked me what was the last book I read, I said I’m currently reading The Road Less Traveled, and the CEO said:,” I love the first sentence in the book, Life is Difficult.” I looked at her, and simply smiled.
As for my catering business, I was so mad because it was taking off on a slow start, so I stopped to think why I was feeling so entitled to instant success. Talent was only one small step, along with passion, perseverance and resilience. My own culinary degree came out of a rather difficult situation, the bi-product of a car accident that smashed my foot, and made me decide to switch careers. So why did I forget that the kitchen is blood, sweat and tears, and that running my own business is hard work. I let go of my sense of entitlement, and I took, and still am taking small steps towards my success, talent is one element, the rest is equally as important. If I want success, I have to earn success. I cannot call it quits at the first sign of turbulence, tantrums won’t cut it in the grown up world, I am no longer an omnipotent child, I am a hard working adult, in a competitive world.
Until we die, we have the privilege of making choices, we can go through life as we choose to go through life. It is never a smooth ride, it is never an easy ride, but we are always in control of the steering wheel. We sometimes feel entitled, and feel that we deserve to live easy, and forget that this is not the case. Life is difficult, but life is also good, it is what we make out of it.
Always remember that, you have a choice, you will always have a choice. So as you go through life, be active, be supportive, be conscious of your choices and most of all be appreciative of the good you get in life, because you earned it. Change the negative, take your time to grieve, but don’t wallow forever, and when you fall and bruise, lean on whatever you need to get yourself back up.
Life is difficult, but that is definitely what makes it worth living.