I hope you struggle

It’s the only thing that makes us strong

They say butterflies will die if you help them from their chrysalis; that the work of pulling themselves free strengthens the wings enough to fly. And without that work, they never will.

Perhaps it’s the same with baby animals breaking free from shells. I don’t know. We do, however, hear the caution against feeding wild animals — that doing so creates dependence and learned helplessness, and they die.

And I know it’s the same with people. We need to struggle to build strength. It’s the only way to do so — and the only way to thrive.

Most obviously is physical — the exertion, breaking down and rebuilding of muscles, tendons, ligaments in order to make them stronger.

But it’s true for emotional and mental strength as well. And that’s not to say that we must allow emotional abuse, but it is to say that emotional and mental work is necessary to live your life fully.

Sometimes people talk about how “fortunate” children of privilege are — or how “lucky” some people are to marry into or inherit money, win the lottery, etc. On the contrary, these people are often doomed to a fate far worse. Having never struggled for these things, they don’t have the strength or werewithal with which to live with them effectively (most lottery winners, we know, are bankrupt within a few years. Many “trophy wives” live lives of quiet desperation and concealed depression. Many silver-spooned kids experience problems they’re ill-equipped to self-manage.)

People need to struggle to thrive. We need to work, exert effort, stretch, build strength. Without this, we quickly go soft, our bodies and minds too weak to work properly.

I hope you struggle. It is a message of love and compassion and belief — I hope you struggle, because with struggle comes remarkable strength.

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