The Importance of Struggle in Defining Who You Are

I’ve recently begun to get a grasp on a very important skill: acting boldly. But even with the knowledge I’ve gained, my journey has not always been easy. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Taking persistent action in pursuit of your dreams will force you to live through some horrible experiences.

If there’s anything that has been the most defining and important aspect of the past two years of my life, it’s struggle. From the death of a best friend to a paradigm-shifting move to the city, I’ve been no stranger to adversity.

Money's tight, but I try not to let that turn me into a miser.

As a result, however, I now have a clearer understanding of who I am, what I value, and what I want out of life than ever before.

But defining your values and discovering your passions will not guarantee that the rest of your journey will be smooth sailing. It’s just a matter of time before you butt heads with someone who completely disregards your plans, or you feel tempted to give in to something that completely contradicts your values. Living up to your self-constructed standards can sometimes be the most difficult path to take.

But a mantra I like to use is: if you don’t feel challenged, you’re probably not living boldly enough.

It’s important to realize that hardship is as integral to your journey as success. In fact, it’s completely unavoidable. Your difficulties will bring you a clearer understanding of your fundamental values, which you can use to guide your future actions. They will also cement your commitment to those values.

Staying true to your own standards in the face of hardship and nay-sayers is a skill. It’s learned, not innate.

Through experience you figure out how to motivate yourself, using an enthusiastic commitment to your standards to inform everything that you do. In this hectic world rife with struggle of all kinds–especially in New York, the most cutthroat, competitive city in the world–it’s imperative that you stick to your guns.

Compassion is a strange animal in this concrete jungle.

This book is a summary of some things I’ve learned from living through experiences both good and bad, illustrated through personal anecdotes. My motive is to help out those who are struggling to define their values, and those who are fighting to stay true to themselves amidst hardship.


Amanda Fox-Rouch (Hunter College)

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