“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day” – Robert Frost
People keep telling me that weathering shit in life will make me a stronger person. That getting dragged through the mud will eventually toughen me up. It’s a cliche as old as time, long before Kelly Clarkson sang it. But I’m not sure that the theory holds true.
Society constantly thrusts the “don’t ever quit” mentality down our throats, berating that the undesired emotions that we are currently facing will do us well in the future. The logic being that tough times help us grow thicker skins, so the next adverse event won’t feel so bad. As people always say, “you’ll come out of it stronger.”
While I agree that adversity leads to a more stoic individual, I’m not convinced that it’s because of strength. I feel that a combination of numbness and resignation is why the adversity-ridden individual is able to endure more suffering. By weathering one storm, we give-in to weathering the next one. And one by one, the storms erode our emotions and sensitivity – we seem to label this process as “becoming stronger.” It’s almost like “mental toughness” equals “how good are you at numbing your own feelings?”
But instead of shushing them, maybe our feelings, which have stood the arduous test of evolution, should be listened to sometimes. Perhaps we should think twice about forcing ourselves to continually do things that result in the body evoking undesired emotions in us. In other words, I believe that if you hate something enough, don’t fucking do it. Quit, god damn it. You aren’t making yourself any stronger by sticking around; rather you’re stripping yourself of your human-ness.
We will all inevitably face plenty of adversity that can’t be run away from. Death of loved-ones, break-ups and involuntary job-losses are a part of life, through which a certain amount of our soft human traits will be snatched. This is un-avoidable, and useful – we need some emotional numbing! But at least lets do ourselves the favor of not forcing adversity that we can avoid. This sounds like a no-brainer, yet it seems that so many of us put ourselves through hell, as if it is a right of passage on our way to indestructibility. The result is a whole lot of destruction, including an onslaught of anxiety, depression and a robotic society.
Stay human, people.