Hardship and Inspiration

Is hardship necessary for you to be an inspiration to others? 

I had this thought listening to Sonnie Johnson‘s podcast. Sonnie, who is black, discusses politics but she also highlights ways that the black community can improve itself and features interesting guests. 

Most of them preach a message of self-responsibility and capitalism, and prove that in the US, anything is possible if you have the drive and the courage.

But another commonality is that most of her guests overcame difficult upbringings; in other words, the proverbial “life on the streets.”

Like it or not, blacks in America still have it a lot rougher than whites, and many need to work twice as hard to escape horrifically dangerous dead-end situations. 

These voices are inspirational, even to me, a white guy from rural New Hampshire who grew up quite comfortably in the cage of safety. If people with the circumstances stacked against them can make it and serve as an example to others, what’s my excuse?

Beyond that, and where my thoughts have turned, is the fact that we all want to be inspirations. 

We all want our lives to mean something. 

Coupled with my religion which teaches us to be a light to the world, I wonder how someone like me can be an inspiration to others. 

Without hardship, is it even possible to be an inspiration? Is hardship, usually material or emotional, a prerequisite to being that shining light?

Obviously, it is not. But hardship definitely inculcates a sense of discipline and hunger that you don’t get growing up with everything provided for you. The trick, I think, is to try and create a sense of desparation and a need to look within for solutions without actually doing harm to your children. Difficult, and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to pull this off. 

I like to joke that my life is an example of what not to do (for example, law school’s not worth it these days), but that’s not enough. That’s negative. Not exactly the kind of inspiration I’d like to be. 

It really is enough to be an example for my son. But I can’t help but wonder if having a “good” upbringing hinders the growth of that hungry, inspirational mindset, and how best to instill that mindset in my own children. 

Follow me on Twitter at @DaytimeRenegade

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