Take a pause and think back to your most challenging times in life.
Think about the times that you were extremely stressed. The times that you felt hopeless. Or the times that required you to do something you didn’t think you could.
These challenges in life are what ultimately define us.
Our challenges become our opportunities as we learn to work through them. At the very minimum, they give us perspective in our life that we didn’t have before. At their best, challenges force us to grow as humans.
Watching My Daughter Stop Breathing
It’s hard to imagine how having your daughter in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is an opportunity.
In the moment, it really sucks. Driving back and forth between the hospital and home. Seeing feeding tubes, breathing support, and hearing too often the sound of vital monitor alerts.
It was arguably one of the most stressful times in my life. I was barely prepared to become a first time parent, let alone that of a 2 month premature kid.
I distinctly remember one day in particular. We were told by the doctors that she was doing well, and may be able to head home in the next two weeks. My wife and I decided to walk down and grab lunch at a nearby restaurant. As we ate, we talked about how exciting it’s going to be to be able to take our daughter home and start a “normal” life.
Upon returning to the hospital, we had our plans crushed. We walked in on our daughter, surrounded by 2 doctors and 3 nurses. Her skin was visibly a shade of blue, and they had a full oxygen mask on her. She had stopped breathing again, this time for an extended period of time.
If you are familiar with premature babies, you know that apneas (periods of paused breathing) are very common. The issue with our daughter is that she was not outgrowing them during her NICU stay. In fact, they seemed to be getting worse.
Thankfully they eventually ended up finding an infection (not saying this ironically). On antibiotics to aid her body’s fight, her apneas went away, and she eventually was able to come home with us.
Forcing You To Grow
Now my daughter is about to turn three, and is as happy and healthy as can be. But looking back at her stay in the hospital, it was an opportunity. It helped me address character flaws and habits that were holding me back.
I’ve always been an anxious person. I’ve always hated hospitals. And in times of stress, like everyone, I’d sometimes take the easy way out and simply stop doing something.
But with your child in the hospital, there is no “quitting.” I had to be there for her. It forced me to work through feelings of stress and anxiety to keep moving forward. The experience was also a reminder of patience, and accepting what is not in your control.
Years later, the lessons and perspectives I gained from that challenge stick with me. As we prepare for the birth of our next child, I’m better positioned to face these challenges again.
Common Challenges (Opportunities)
Nobody says “My life was really easy, and that’s how I got to where I am today!” We all face challenges at different intervals in our life.
And it’s usually the people who learn how to overcome challenges that have the most success in life.
When you lose the fear of facing a challenge, suddenly your life becomes much easier. You get the career you want. You build the relationships you want. And you find the inner peace that you need.
We all face common challenges:
- Finding a new job.
- Losing weight and staying fit.
- Getting control of your finances.
- Overcoming anxiety or depression.
- Starting a new relationship.
When you make it to the other side, you realize that you had it in you all along. It’s just a matter of fostering the mindset, believing in yourself, and using the challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.