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They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and the older I get, the more I realize the truth in that statement. After all, I’m still here, and I’ve seen what feels like more than my fair share of hard times. Don’t we all experience that at least once in life, though?

It’s so easy to look at our misfortunes and feel sorry for ourselves. The hard part is getting back out there, picking up the pieces, and moving on. 

That’s the part that makes you stronger. It’s not easy, but it turns out a lot better than if you were to give up.

When I think about the hardest moments of my life, three vivid memories come to mind.

The first is the day I received the call from my dad telling me my grandma had a stroke. I was only 16, and had never experienced the loss of someone so close to me before. The two weeks that she was in Rochester were two of the most difficult of my life, and I would’ve never gotten through it without the help of my best friends at the time.

The second was the phone call from my best friend, Jasmine, telling me Billy was dead. I can hear those words as clear as day. Words cannot describe how painful, how hard it is to lose someone you love. Time is the only thing that can begin to heal the wound left from losing a friend, relative, or anyone else you love and care about. 

Then there was the day I decided to break up with my ex boyfriend. I’m aware of how juvenile that sounds, and five years from now I probably won’t care, but it was an incredibly difficult decision for me. 

It was the longest relationship I’d ever been in. He was my first love, and we lived together. 

I gave him everything without question because I cared that much. I ended it because I couldn’t stand to be with someone who lied to me, I couldn’t trust, and I was no longer happy with. 

I finally decided, after far too long, that I deserved better. And although it hurt then, I’m so happy I ended things when I did. I’m a much less naive, much stronger person because of it.

As I go through life, I will experience many more obstacles. But the more experience I get, the more prepared I’ll be to face them.

I’m a much different person than I was three years ago. I’ve been knocked down, heartbroken, and at what felt like rock bottom. But here I am: happy, independent, successful at a stable job, and surrounded by family and friends who I love.

Life is going to knock you down. It will deal you more than you think you can handle. But it’s also a precious gift that everyone has been blessed with. What will you do with it — overcome your obstacles and come out stronger and happier, or let life keep you down? 

One of my favorite song lyrics reads, “You get what everyone else gets — you get a lifetime.” I first heard it when I was 13, and it’s just stuck with me ever since. It’s true, though. You, and everyone else around you, has been given a lifetime. What will you make of it?

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