Being Uncomfortable is the Key to Overcoming Adversity

Adversity is a bullet with no name on it, but how you deal with it makes all the difference.

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?” The late great Tupac Shakur posed that question in his 1999 poetic track. When considering nature, a beautiful flower is not supposed to emerge from a rocky concrete surface. That concrete is meant to represent adversity. No matter who you are, what you do, or how you do it, adversity is something you can’t avoid. Some are affected more than others, but challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Despite those challenges, however, growth is possible. To make things more relatable, let me tell you my story.

My early years of schooling was a learning experience for me. I was considered by some to be a class clown, but to others, including some of my teachers, I was a troublemaker. Oftentimes, it felt as though I was being made an example of, but I would soon learn that people are going to try to put labels on you as long as you live. Although it seemed to be a test at the time, this challenge was nothing compared to the life-changing period of time that would begin in my junior year of college.

I had breezed through my coursework, similar to what I had done for pretty much the duration of my educational career. That was, until I took Finance. This turned out to be the hardest class I’ve taken in my entire life. It kicked my butt on a daily basis and I was tired of it. The stress got to the point where I started to get thoughts of dropping out. Somehow, by the grace of God, I passed the class, but it sure did knock the wind out of me.

After advancing past such a difficult course, I felt like there was nothing else that could stop me from making it to graduation. I was right. Despite the minor setback, I cruised through senior year and got cleared for graduation after four years. By this time, everything started to click. This was bigger than me. Becoming the first person in my family to graduate from college was no small feat. My family was depending on me. My younger brother and cousins were looking up to me and I knew I had to deliver. To break the cycle, knowing that I could change the whole trajectory of my family’s history was something I took great pride in.

I enjoyed the celebration that followed my graduation ceremony, but life comes at you fast. I soon realized that I had to get ready for the “real world.” I filled out endless job applications, but the only place that would hire me at the time was Macy’s. I started to get discouraged, as I started to question if all that work I put out in college would go to waste. After hearing an overwhelming number of “No’s,” I finally got a “yes.” While this is not my dream job, it has afforded me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I was able to buy my first car brand new off the lot at the age of 21. Beyond the material gains though, it taught me that hard work really does pay off.

Everything seemed to be on the up-and-up, but then, in October of 2015, the unthinkable happened. I’m just lounging around my house when I got a late night call, informing me that two guys in my circle of friends had just been arrested for murder. I was so taken aback, I almost dropped my phone. How could this happen? For a while, I tried to rationalize it. But that just wouldn’t work. I had to force myself to come to grips with the horrible truth that I likely won’t ever see them again.

It was still a tough pill to swallow, but five months later, I was in a better head space. However, sometimes life can be so unforgiving. I’m at work doing my thing, then a couple hours into my shift, I get a devastating text from my brother, saying that one of my best friends had passed away. I couldn’t believe I had to relive this pain yet again. I cried for days, attempting to wrap my head around it, but to no avail. Kodak Black and PnB Rock’s single, “Too Many Years” was all too relevant at this point.

You might be feeling sorry for me at this moment, but don’t. I’m alive and well. I have so much to be thankful for. Life is going to throw you curveballs and whether it’s fair or not, it’s all a part of the process. During my time of despair, I figured out that in order to overcome this adversity, I needed to be okay with being uncomfortable. No one likes being uncomfortable. That’s a fact. I was uncomfortable with bad grades, so I had to create an action plan to nip that in the bud. I wasn’t comfortable dealing with tragedy either, so I had to find a way to deal with it. I stopped writing for over a month. I didn’t want to, but I knew that what I needed at that particular time, was peace and prayer.

The uncomfortable nature of adversity is the key to overcoming it. Being uneasy with whatever challenge you are facing pushes you to make it out of your current position. This lesson I learned changed my life forever. Never let your circumstances define you because pain is only permanent if you let it be.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.

– Muhammad Ali

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