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Adversity is Our Friend

by Stephanie Hatfield.

“A dose of adversity is often as needful as a dose of medicine.”

I wish I could say this was a quote from my favorite highly esteemed author.

But it’s actually the message that was inside my fortune cookie from my favorite Chinese delivery place. Still, the sentiment rings true and the timing was impeccable.

I was rewarding myself with celebratory Chinese goodness after having just completed that day my first ever triathlon (to be clear it was a mini and indoor triathlon, so hold on to your admiration for now).

Nevertheless, it was new, and, for me, it was a risk.

You see, I signed up 3 days before the event, on a whim, after seeing it advertised on social media. I thought, “That looks cool! I could do that!”. And instead of talking myself out of it (which I’m very good at doing), I just decided to push forward and make it happen. So I registered.

The next day, I bought a swim cap and goggles (since the child size Disney princess ones we had wouldn’t do), went to the pool, and very awkwardly swam my first ever real laps. They were clumsy, awkward, left me winded beyond belief…and humbled. I was worried. My fit-looking figure was heaving with an exhaustion I have never felt before. “What--have--I--done?” I thought.

I took a few moments to catch my breath and watch a few other swimmers. They glided effortlessly through the water. How did they make that look so easy? After collecting myself a bit, I got back in and swam a few more laps. Slower. Calmer. Primarily just trying to breathe. JUST BREATHE.

That night I read about 7 different articles on “Tips for New Swimmers” and “5 Steps to Improve your Freestyle”. I wasn’t going down without a fight.

The day of the event, I was a mix of emotions – nervous, excited, scared, hopeful, determined. I was committed to do my best. My awkward, splashy, unrefined best. My heart pounded as I climbed in the water and waited for the horn to blow.

What is it that causes us to feel that sudden surge of energy in our soul?

What prompts us to dig in and press on when we could back away instead?

Being coddled may sound more appealing but it is not what we need. We need to be challenged. It seems this only really happens we are face to face with adversity. In my case, it was a very literal “sink or swim” kind of situation.

“BEEP!!” We were off! My inner dialogue, “Reach out far. Pull your arm all the way back. Breath…breathe. And just keep swimming. (Thank you, Dory!)”.

It wasn’t the prettiest 17 laps. I had to alternate between a few different strokes just keep going. But I didn’t stop. It was my weakest leg of the event that day, but it’s the one I am most proud of… because it was HARD. It was hard and it was humbling. But I still did it. And I felt proud.

Adversity is our friend. It is the stimulus that causes us grow. The more often we are uncomfortable, nervous, and unsure, and choose to press on, the more mentally strong we become.

The next time an opportunity to face adversity presents itself in your life, don’t shrink back.

Face it, fears and all, and enjoy the growth and pride you’ll experience on the other side. 

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