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  • Writer's pictureAlpana Shitolé

Relentlessness: Learning to Shine in the Face of Darkness

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Stars are visible only in the darkness. Let’s teach our children not to avoid the darkness but how to shine like a star in it.

I want to share a personal story with you, an event from not too long ago. As the school year was drawing to a close this spring, my high schooler collapsed onto our couch, defeated and exhausted. "I don't feel good. I feel nauseated," she admitted. I didn't need her words to know how she was feeling - her expression spoke volumes. She was overwhelmed, and it was hard for me as a parent to see her struggling. After all, she's an elite athlete, dedicating 16 hours of her week to rigorous sports training, all while juggling several challenging AP courses at school. It's no surprise that the intensity of the year was catching up with her.

In those moments of stress and strain, I reminded her of something very important: hard work never feels good. If it does, it's probably not hard work. As harsh as it may sound, there's a stark truth behind it. An easy life rarely reaps meaningful rewards.

I experience this myself, every time I push myself on a treadmill. It's grueling, it's punishing, it's sheer agony. But if I muster the strength to persist just a little longer, to endure the discomfort for just a while more, I find myself in a state of 'flow'. It's in this state that I feel invincible, powerful, undefeatable. And this state always seems to arrive just when I am about to quit. After a good workout, I can't help but walk a little taller - there's no room for feeling slouched or overwhelmed no matter what is going on in my life. That's the essence of hard work.

Just as stars add light to the dark sky, hard work brings value and fulfillment to our lives. It's rarely easy or comfortable, but by pushing through the discomfort to reach the flow, we emerge stronger and more resilient.

My message to my high schooler, and to everyone out there, is simple: setbacks and challenges can either break you or make you. They can be your darkness, or they can be the backdrop against which you shine brighter than ever. The choice is yours. Teach your children not just to avoid the darkness, but how to be the stars in it. After all, we're all stars in our own way. And just like stars, we can't shine without a little bit of darkness.

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