“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. Beautiful people don’t just happen.”
People come in all shapes, sizes, forms and colors. Authenticity is hard to find these days. From the classic fake friend in your inner circle who will be adorable to your face and plot something behind your back, to the narcissistic friend who enjoys talking about themselves on social media that you learn more about their (so-called epic) life than you do about their evolution as a human being.
It is safe to say we all know these types of people.
As I thought about this rather reality, I started to think about what truly makes a good person. Are they just born with a perfect combination of compassion, empathy, humility and generosity? I don’t think so.
Some of the most greatest people I have met in my lifetime are those who have struggled. And, I’m not talking about the struggle of picking a filter for your Instagram picture, I’m talking about people who have lost it all.
I’m talking about people who have hit their rock bottom and somehow managed to pull themselves out from the depths of life’s challenges; those who have known true despair and vulnerability, to the point that they asked themselves why they should stick around.
Not only have I faced my own individual struggles, but I have also witnessed many people around me be dragged through the dungeons of hell for more than their fair share of time.
As unfair as life can be, I have noticed that all of these people have one thing in common: They are truly beautiful. They haven’t become cold or callous and they don’t bicker about the cards life dealt them, yet they grew in strength and battled their challenges head on.
I myself have learned a lot from these people, as I was forced to make the same decisions they were.
People who have struggled, consciously decide to learn from their endurance of pain, instead of as a reason to be miserable.
Whether this adversity has come from an illness, the death of a loved one, addiction, relationships, society, the media, a difficult upbringing or a disability, there are a million ways an individual can struggle on this earth.
But, when a person is pushed passed the limit of what he or she can handle, we all feel the same thing: despair.
However, what we fail to recognize in these agonizing times is that this adversity is the greatest gift anyone could ever give us. Why? Because we learn from it.
We learn not to judge others and their situations because we hated when people did that to us.
We learn to treat everyone else around us with kindness because we once wished people knew how broken we were before carelessly thrusting their frustrations upon us in the past.
We learn to appreciate and value all that is around us because we know how easily it can be taken away. We learn how to have compassion and empathy, as we know how nice it was to feel like someone cared.
We learn how to be loyal to those who mean the most to us because we know how much we needed the love and support of those people when it mattered most.
And, most importantly, we learned how to make the most of what life gives us right here, right now.
As we continue to live through our struggles, take a look back at your individual source of inspiration that got you out of those life-altering moments. And, you’ll be lucky if you can count with one hand, the few individuals that stood beside you, through your falls and celebrated your victories in the same way.
The gift of adversity not only empowers us to become a stronger, kinder, more gracious human beings, but it does change us from being an ordinary person to becoming an extraordinary one.
I chose to pick Angelina Jolie as the cover image of this article, as many of us know of her as just a blockbuster actress. But, nevertheless, she’s a mother of six, three of which have been adopted internationally and she’s a human rights activist.
Most importantly, she publicly underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer. Two years later, in March 2015, after annual test results indicated possible signs of early ovarian cancer, she underwent a preventive oophorectomy, as she had a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer due to the same genetic anomaly. Despite hormone replacement therapy, the surgery brought on premature menopause. Jolie’s announcement to share her personal trials attracted widespread publicity while health campaigners welcomed her raising awareness of the options available to at-risk women.
This is what makes a person beautiful not only in the outside but the inside. We need more beautiful people like Angelina.