Crushed or Courageous?

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

19 September 2019

Struggles are part of the human experience. Some days it may seem we were put on this earth to suffer. Some of our challenges make us fearful. Our stressors can make it hard to sleep at night, and our pain can seem to knock us to the ground begging for relief. I’m going to share three stories with you about struggle.

Jim hired several new employees, but he’s unable to pay them because he unexpectedly lost his largest client. Catherine is facing health challenges, and her boss is unsympathetic to the amount of time she needs to take off. And Frank is facing a bout of depression, which has smacked him in the face and rendered him immobile. These struggles are tough. While you can read the situations and feel sympathy, we must remember we’re only looking at one part of the story: the beginning.


Does the pressure Jim feels prompt him to push hard and find a replacement client so he’s able to succeed and keep his new employees on the payroll? Is Catherine able to overcome her disease and find a new job (with a competitor), in which she feels empowered to do her best work yet? Does Frank reach deep within and face the very thing that caused his depression? Can he come out of this bout with more purpose and self-love than he ever thought possible?

Each person had to be courageous to make these endings possible. They could have given up. They could have thrown their hands up and succumbed to the woes that faced them. They could justify reasons why they were treated unfairly and continued down a sad and lonely path. But they didn’t. They faced their fears and overcame the challenges, even if they were scared. That’s courage!

If we make up reasons why we can’t succeed and reasons why our problems can’t be resolved, they won’t be. They’ll linger on forever. No problem is solved by keeping a negative mindset. As Robert Louis Stevenson is quoted in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:

I have been made to learn that the doom and burden of our life is bound forever on man’s shoulders; and when the attempt is made to cast it off, it but returns upon us with more unfamiliar and more awful pressure.


Jim could also have fired the new employees and became depressed, singing Whitney Houston’s hit song, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” on his morning commutes. Catherine could’ve become so stressed over her health condition and work issues that she got sicker and could no longer work. And Frank could have taken his own life, unable to face the pressure of his mental illness.

The Middle

The best way to come to a positive ending, is to have a positive middle. As Jimmy Eat World sings in The Middle,


Don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just try your best
Try everything you can
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away

It just takes some time
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine

 It all depends on your mindset. Stay the course. If you’re in the middle, know there is an end. Hold your head high. You’ll always see your way clear. Hold your hand out. There’ll always be another hand to hold it. Focus on where you’d like to be. And do whatever it takes to get there.

Succeed or fail? The choice is yours.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (Thomas Edison)