As I’ve said before, I have lived a very charmed life. I had great parents, a fun-loving upbringing, an awesome/fun family that have my back, an idyllic childhood, amazing friends, fabulous kids and kids-in-law…yet, shit does happen now & again to everyone. It’s not the shit, but the way we react to it that becomes our future and our reality.
I’ve also mentioned that my favorite genre in books are non-fiction, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, kind of stories. I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated, encouraged and never get tired of reading them, because, as I said, I had a great upbringing, so it’s not like I’m trying to talk myself into overcoming something?? So, I thought I’d just write a post about some people who have overcome some challenging childhoods…or let’s just say “not idyllic” childhoods and have succeeded tremendously in life. In fact, they’ve done research that indicates that sometimes adversity is the reason people succeed.
A large study at the University of Buffalo concluded that some adversity can indeed make us stronger and more resilient. The study was more about “medium adversity” and how it can actually be better than high (relentless physical and mental abuse can sometimes do irreversible damage) or no adversity at all. Here are some pretty good examples of people overcoming the odds….
Elon Musk: CEO of SpaceX & Tesla, as well as Chairman of SolarCity…He was bullied relentlessly and at one point had to be taken to the hospital and his father “played brutal mind games” making he & his brother sit silent for four hours while he lectured them. From the book Elon Musk..”he feels that the suffering helped to make him who he is and gave him extra reserves of strength and will.”
Misty Copeland: First African American principal in the American Ballet Theater.. She grew up extremely poor, didn’t always have food to eat and competed for sleeping space on the floor of run down hotel rooms. She was told she had the wrong body type for classical ballet, but still achieved the highest honor for a dancer. Check out this book or this on-demand movie about her life.
Amy Purdy: Paralympian…She started snow-boarding at the age of 15, but contracted meningitis at the age of 19 with less than a 2 percent chance of living. She lost both legs beneath the knee and ended up needing a kidney replacement, given to her by her father. She desperately wanted to go back to snow-boarding, and not finding adequate prosthetics, designed them herself….wow, now that’s perseverance! Check our her inspirational book.
Trevor Noah: Daily Show Host…He grew up in poverty stricken Soweto, South Africa during the time of apartheid, the son of a mixed race couple…his father was a white man of Swiss/German ancestry and his mother was Jewish/Xhosa mix black woman (his mother was thrown in jail and fined for this illegal relationship.) His violent stepfather abused his mother, eventually shot her and tried to find & shoot him. He uses his adversity in his comedy, which ultimately brought him to the U.S. and his soaring career.
There are so many more like them who are not famous and exemplify the meaning of hope after adversity. I never get tired of their stories…and, finally, here’s an interesting article about two people who were successful in overcoming extreme childhood adversity.
So, next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself, or your lot in life, maybe it would help to check out the journey of others who’ve had to overcome so much more. ….or this might help?
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!