It has been said that if you really want something you will find a way to get it. As I have been reading Booker T. Washington’s autobiography entitled Up From Slavery, I have been struck by the amount of struggle he had to endure in order to acquire an education. He tells stories about sleeping under a wooden walkway because he had no money and being black, he was not allowed to stay in a hotel. He talks about working as a janitor while also taking classes at the prestigious school for freed slaves. He had to do his schoolwork late into the night because the only way he could pay for his schooling was to work as the school’s janitor during the day. He would have to get up at 4am and start the fires that would warm the building. He interacted with people with money while he had nothing, but never felt envy or entitlement to what they had. He eventually rose to prominence as a teacher himself, but it never would have happened without the struggles he endured. We live in a country where too much is handed to us. Lack of struggle is destroying us.
I have used the analogy many times as a teacher myself. Without breaking down the muscles during weightlifting, the muscles will never grow in strength and size. It requires struggle and pain and difficulty for muscles to recover even stronger than they were before. The same is true with growth as a person in life. Those who are left to struggle and strive are the ones who progress in life. Rarely will you see a person who was given everything they needed in life living well at the end of their life. And yet as we look around we see a culture of entitled people expecting that they are owed something without ever having to earn it. If you want to grow as a person, be hard on yourself. Don’t accept handouts. Push yourself. It will both lead you to develop strengths and skills that will get you ahead, and also develop strong character within you.