Adversarial Growth & Post Traumatic Growth

Aug24

Adversarial Growth & Post Traumatic Growth

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I’ve been on one vacation my entire adult life. My mom took the whole family down to the Cayman Islands a few years back to celebrate her fift… Tweny first 😉 Birthday. I got to spend a week away from life. Thousands of miles away from stresses, responsibilities, deadlines. I turned my phone off for most of the trip. It was… Bliss. At least for a while…

 

I remember sitting on a chair in the sand, looking out and getting lost in the ocean. I remember saying, “Man, I could sit here forever.” I’m sure you’ve had an experience like that at least once in your life. It’s funny though… We can’t sit there forever.

 

It makes me think about happiness. What do we mean when we say we want to be happy? Without any thought, that would be my idea of happiness. The easy life, sitting, staring, admiring. No stress, no hard work or exertion, no responsibilities or deadlines, no pressure to please anyone…

 

Vacations are funny. The first few days are just that, that kind of happiness. But after a while we’re ready to go back home, go back to life. So, maybe our definition of happiness isn’t accurate and we’re chasing an idea we don’t truly want. After thinking about it I realized I hate complacency for than I like that version of happiness. Without work, without stress, without challenges, deadlines, and adversity, there’s no growth. There are some things in life we can only learn through crisis.

 

Maybe it’s time we abandon that definition of happiness and just call it what it truly is… A nice little break. Just enough to be able to take a breathe, appreciate nothingness, and then get back to the grind. And so I say fuck the calm, give me the storm. Fuck the peace, give me the darkness. Give me the challenges and the opportunities to grow. And this is where I’d like to rant for a bit about something…

 

Adversarial Growth & Post Traumatic Growth

 

It’s not uncommon for me to open up an inbox and see a message like this, “Do you think you’re the same now as you were before your injury? Did you still have the same motivation and drive? Were you as into fitness back then as you are now?” To date I’ve thought this was a stupid question simply because the answer is an easy, “Yes, I had the same motivation, drive, and passion for fitness before I was shot as I do now.” Today, however, I understand it’s a good question, it’s just not asking the right things…

 

I walked away from it all with something more valuable than motivation, I walked away with patience and mental fortitude. I walked away with the understanding that, even on our worst days, we can bank on the same sun rising tomorrow. Every traumatic and disheartening experience we have in life is an opportunity to grow, in some regard, as long as you’re not a pussy.

 

I have a new favorite word… Katabasis. It’s an old Greek thing that means “Going down.” Oh shit, I just realized it also means blowjob. FUCK. Stop, Derek. FOCUS!! Ok, so, going down in this sense means… Falling. We’ve all experienced something in life that made us feel like we were trapped down in a hole. Health, money, substance abuse, injury, a relationship… At some point we felt like we’d dug ourselves or found ourselves at the bottom of a hole and getting back to the top seems hopeless. Katabasis is that journey of falling and climbing back up. More importantly, it’s about what comes after. Returning back to the top, back to life, we have more experience now. We are stronger, more knowledgeable, and have a better understanding of how the world spins. You don’t truly understand what fire is until you’ve burned yourself. Get it?

 

It all makes sense in retrospect. Think about something that happened to you in your life… Think of a time when you felt errr miserable, trapped, hopeless. But now you’re here, that’s in the past. What did you learn from it? In what ways did it make you grow? Surely you can think of someway in which it positively benefited you for the rest of your life. Now you’re stronger, wiser, better…

 

If it works for the past, it works in the present and future as well… It’s just a bit more difficult. When we’re caught in the storm and there’s no sun on the horizon, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll ever see it’s shine again. But if we’ve been in the storm before, and we made it through to see the sun, we can know now and moving forward that the sun will someday show it’s face. The not knowing when is the hard part… We just have to know. It’s… Faith. Which is funny because that’s something I’ve always said I didn’t have. But I guess I do have faith. I have faith that no matter what kind of storm I may find myself in, someday I will see the sun.

 

Think of experience as a coin, there are always two sides. The negative side, the woe is me, the tragedy, the depression, the despair, the hopelessness. That’s our go to, that’s the side that everyone can see. So I’ll just be a blunt asshole about it and call it what it is, “The Weak Minded Side of the Coin.” Don’t take it personally, I’m talking to myself here. We’ve all got some weakness inside. The other side of the coin takes more for us to see… Self Awareness. When you’re trapped in the shit, sit around feeling sorry for yourself, see how much progress you make… That’s The Weak Side. The Strong Minded Side stops and says, “How did I get myself here? What changes do I need to make to get out? How will I grow? How will I benefit? How will I be better in the end?” In a sadistic kind of way, you grow to love the storm. You know you’ll survive. You know you’ll come out stronger. You’re fucking Lt. Dan shouting to the sky, “Is that all you got?!” You’re not afraid of adversity, you welcome it because you know there are some things we can learn only through crisis.

 

Most of the shit we really know comes from fucking up somewhere. Don’t be afraid to fuck up. Embrace fucking up but remember to look at situations and experiences and learn. Grow.

 

I’ve developed The Strong Minded Side of the coin of experience over the years. Not because I’m smarter or better than you, I was forced to. I had to grow to survive, and survive I do. The worst experience(s) of my life and forged me into the man you know and (hopefully) respect today. You’re made of the same shit I am, we’re not so different. If I can have a particular mentality towards life and adversity, so can you. That’s why I feel so awkward when people compliment me for being the person I am today… It’s not that impressive, they’re capable of being me to. We’ve simply had different experiences.

 

That’s Adversarial Growth, Post Traumatic Growth… Growth through incredibly dark times. It’s a beautiful thing though. Don’t let yourself get trapped thinking the world and life are against you, in one way or another, they’re always providing you with an opportunity to grow, learn, become stronger, and better. Changing your perspective makes the dark times slightly less… Overwhelming.

 

Fuck the light, Give me the darkness.

 

Straight Legless Katabasis
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