The Gift of Struggle

by Whitney on February 8, 2013

I had lunch with my friend Amanda yesterday. We hadn’t seen each other in a couple of months, so the conversation started out like most distant, in that need-to-catch-up kind of way. How are you? Great! How are you! Good! How’s your business, hubby, kid? Good! How’s your business, hubby, kids? Great! Yada yada, you get it.

She told me she had been reading Napoleon Hill’s book, Outwitting the Devil. Mental note made. I read any book that another creative entrepreneur recommends. She gave me a summary of the book, and then, of course, it was my turn to carry the conversation.

I told her I’d been reading Daring Greatly. “The book talks about shame alot in the same way some people talk about fear,” I explained. “Men and women define shame differently–the triggers are different for each gender. For women, it might be motherhood, for men, it might be a career. But both genders have learned to wear armor that covers up their vulnerability, and what our society hasn’t figured out is that the armor that covers up shame is heavy, and it’s a burden to wear. The secret to overcoming shame is much like the secret to overcoming fear: name it. It will never go away, but it can be tamed into submission. Recognize the burden of armor, what you’re doing to cover up the shame: are you glorifying busy? Living in worst-case scenario mode instead of living in the moment? Are you numbing shame with addiction?”

Amanda’s face revealed she was interested in this topic. “You’ve done a good job leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability,” she said.

I went on to explain to her, if there is anything that has come out of the past 18 months, it’s that when you think you’re at the bottom, and you finally give up, sometimes you’re just cutting the rope that’s tied to the stone that’s making you sink. When you don’t have anywhere to go but up, it’s a whole lot less scary to open up to vulnerability, and change, and buy into the story that anywhere can be better than now. The struggle, in that sense, has been a gift.

Amanda said she was amazed that I was able to handle it with such a good attitude. At that point, I laughed. In Daring Greatly, I told her, Brene Brown describes two groups of people who can’t handle vulnerability. She calls them Vikings and Victims. The Vikings are the people who steamroll, conquer, and win–all the time. They refuse to acknowledge they are vulnerable, and take pride in the fact that they’ve never been defeated. The Victims are the people who can’t compete with the Vikings, so they just give up. They know they are vulnerable, and instead of growing into something better and stronger, they let themselves live defeated. I told Amanda, “That’s why I have a good attitude–because I’d been a Viking, and I knew I was on my way down, and there was no way I was going to resign to being a Victim.” We laughed.

What a journey, friends. What a gift.

In the struggles of life, the goal isn’t to come out on the other side without scars. There is no way we can go through life without a few battle wounds. The goal is to get to the other side of the struggle alive, stronger, and a little bit wiser than when you went into battle. Those are the gifts.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Adria February 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Feeling so inspired by this post. Thank you for sharing! I too feel the struggle is what makes every success a rewarding gift. Would love to collaborate with such a creative individual! Check out my blog and lets talk!

XO

Adria
prettylittlepeach.com

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Kandice February 9, 2013 at 5:26 am

Thanks Whitney! Love this nugget of trut today. . On the topic of struggling… A quote has been on my mind all week: ” Sometimes God redeems us from our struggles and sometimes he redeems us through them.” Either way I think it’s pretty amazing that we’re redeemed.
All the Best, K

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Jessica Lee February 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I love this, “sometimes you’re just cutting the rope that’s tied to the stone that’s making you sink”. What a light-bulb moment! It’s not a matter of failing, necessarily, just cutting the dead weight – realizing it’s ok to walk away, redirect your attention and face what’s not working so you can realize what will. Awesome!

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Donna-Fabulous Fetes February 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Love this post Whitney! I too am reading Daring Greatly. There is something freeing or liberating about putting yourself out there and being ‘vulnerable’ although I think I use that term loosely as I just begin to skim the surface…

I look forward to following you!

Your ‘recovering’ Victim,
Donna

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Kimberly February 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm

“The struggle is part of the story!” I got that lovely quote from your blog and have being trying to live it ever since! I have posted it every where possible to be sure I see it every day! It is reassuring to know you are not alone in the “struggle!”

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Brittany Lauren March 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Love this post. I’ve have really embraced the “the struggle is part of the story” phrase in the past few months! It’s okay not to paint a pretty picture to where we are going. It’s after we see “failing” is beautiful and a humble experience.

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Kim Hoegger March 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Whitney, what a great honest and sincere post. Thank you. I too struggle…some days the Viking and some days I am afraid to admit, the Victim. I love “sometimes you’re just cutting the rope that’s tied to the stone that’s making you sink”…that is such a great truth. It’s been a long year of change and growth for me personally and in my business. And I have accomplished so many amazing things but in all of the success, I still feel lost and like I am chasing my tail. There always seems to be another bright and shiny object that might be the answer I am looking for…I vowed to be my authentic self this year and am really working on that but still cant seem to find that place where I feel most like me…I think I am too busy doing what I think I should be doing instead of what I really would like to be doing. Does that make any sense at all? lol. I would love to attend your Authenticate Workshop, it sounds wonderful :) Thanks for a great post!

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