Occasionally, life can be undeniably, impossibly difficult. We are faced with challenges and events that can seem overwhelming, life-destroying to the point where it may be hard to decide whether to keep going. But you always have a choice. Jessica Heslop shares her powerful, inspiring journey from the worst times in her life to the new life she has created for herself:
In 2012 I had the worst year of my life.
I worked in a finance job that I hated and I lived in a concrete jungle city with little greenery. I occupied my time with meaningless relationships and spent copious quantities of money on superficialities. I was searching for happiness and had no idea where to find it.
Then I fell ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and became virtually bed bound. I had to quit my job and subsequently was left with no income. I lived with my boyfriend of then only 3 months who financially supported me and our relationship was put under great pressure. I eventually regained my physical health, but not long after that I got a call from my family at home to say that my father’s cancer had fiercely progressed and that he had been admitted to a hospice.
I left the city and I went home to be with him.
He died 6 months later.
My father was a complete inspiration to me. He was always so strong that, for a minute after he drew his last breath, I honestly thought he would come back to life. I couldn’t believe I would never again cuddle into his big warm chest and feel safe no matter what.
The grief that followed was intense for all of us 5 children and our mother, but we had each other.
But my oldest sister at that time complained of a bad back. It got so bad after 2 months that she too was admitted to hospital.
They discovered that she had highly advanced cancer in her bones and that there was nothing that they could do.
She died 1 month later.
I could never put into words the loss of my sister in my life.
She was a walking, talking angel and my favourite person in the whole world. If someone could have asked me the worst thing that could ever happen, it would have been losing her.
She was my soul-mate and I never thought I would journey this lifetime without her.
The Moment Of Deliberate Choice
The shock and extreme heart break brought me to my knees. The pain was so great and my world just looked desolate. I had no real home, no money, no job, and no friends that cared. Not one person had even sent me a sympathy card for my loss.
I made an attempt of my own life and I ended up in hospital.
I remember lying in the hospital bed, looking up at the ceiling and seeing my sister’s beautiful face. She stayed with me all night long.
I realised during that night that I had a choice. I could choose to end my life or I could choose to live it.
I looked in my sister’s eyes and I made a decision not to go with her just yet. That I would stay and complete my journey here.
I also made the decision that, I wouldn’t just live any life. I would live the life that I absolutely LOVE and nothing less.
In that moment, the clarity that descended around me was like a light shining in a dark room for the first time. As if the earth’s plates had shifted under my feet and everything suddenly looked real for the first time.
Dear I, Where Are You?
Everything about my future was ambiguously assumed. I would get into debt by going to college, then I would be forced to get a job to pay off that debt, while still getting into more and more debt by buying a house and a car. It seemed like a never-ending cycle that had no place for the possibility of a dream.
I want more—but not necessarily in the material sense of personal wealth and success. I want more out of life. I want a passion, a conceptual dream that wouldn’t let me sleep out of pure excitement. I want to spring out of bed in the morning, rain or shine, and have that zest for life that seemed so intrinsic in early childhood.
We all have a dream. It might be explicitly defined or just a vague idea, but most of us are so stuck in the muck of insecurity and self-doubt that we just dismiss it as unrealistic or too difficult to pursue.
We become so comfortable with the life that has been planned out for us by our parents, teachers, traditions, and societal norms that we feel that it’s stupid and unsafe to risk losing it for the small hope of achieving something that is more fulfilling.
“The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.” ~Jawaharlal Nehru
Taking a risk is still a risk. We can, and will, fail. Possibly many, many, many times. But that is what makes it exciting for me. That uncertainty can be viewed negatively, or it can empower us.
Failing is what makes us grow, it makes us stronger and more resilient to the aspects of life we have no control over. The fear of failure, although, is what makes us stagnant and sad. So even though I couldn’t see the future as clearly as before, I took the plunge in hopes that in the depths of fear and failure, I would come out feeling more alive than ever before.
If you feel lost, just take a deep breath and realize that being lost can be turning point of finding out who you truly are, and what you truly want to do.
How strong are you?
That is a tough question to answer, whether you are a man or a woman.
But, really, I want to ask… how do you define your strength?
How do you know your limits? How do you know just how much you’ve got?
When push comes to shove, we often discover that we are much stronger than we think.
What is Strength?
Strength is not always about pure physical strength. Rather, it is about willpower. Discipline. Drive. It is about the capacity to get things done.
I know some people who are intellectually strong, but they get very little done in their jobs. And I know others who find work extremely challenging, but are able to move mountains by their sheer drive and hard work.
They possess inner strength.
More interesting, is that these productive hard-workers often don’t even notice the load. Bystanders are not only amazed, but often ask, “How do you do it?”
The answer usually comes back, “I just work harder than the others.”
So, why are some people able to do more? What gives them added drive? What gives them extra strength?
Could it be, they have simply given themselves permission to do more?
What I have observed is that most people impose their own limits. They limit their output based on self-framed constraints of their capabilities and strengths. Sometimes these boundaries are based on past experiences. Sometimes they are based on perceived capacities. Sometimes these limits are based on nothing.
I can’t do that. (Why?)
That is too much for me. (How do you know?)
I can’t put in that much effort. (What would happen if you did?)
I am not smart enough to solve that. (Can you be sure if you haven’t tried?)
So, how do we break through these limits? How do we get stronger?
Many people are going through the motions, but are nowhere near their limits.
If you want to be stronger, you have to push your boundaries.
Pushing it is what it takes to increase your limits. In the gym, bodybuilders discovered this long ago. But, the same principle is true when it comes to inner strength. Discipline and drive.
Want to test your limits? Push yourself. Test your self-perceived constraints to see how accurate they are. Make sure your goals are slightly beyond what you think can be achieved.
You Are Stronger Than You Think
Most people underestimate their strength.
As you go through your day, challenge your capacity. Test your limits.
Push yourself, to find your true boundaries and define your strength.
When you discover how much you’ve really got, you may surprise even yourself.
What are your self-imposed limits? Which do you need to push? When have you found that you were much stronger than you thought?
1. You never know how strong you really are until being strong is the only choice you have。
2. You cannot change what you refuse to confront。
3. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying。
4. Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain。
5. Letting go doesn't mean that you're a quitter. It doesn't mean that you lost. It just means that you realize in that moment that's it's time to let go and move on。
6. If you are passionate about something, pursue it, no matter what anyone else thinks. That's how dreams are achieved。
7. Give up worrying about what others think of you. What they think isn't important. What is important is how you feel about yourself。
8. You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren't busy denying them。
9. Never let success get to your head, and never let failure get to your heart。
10. Life is short and you deserve to be happy。