Adversity is part of life. How you overcome that adversity and rise to the challenges in your life can really start to define you as a person. For better or worse, that is something I learned early at a very early age. While some may find that tragic, I find it empowering.
I am not suggesting that it has always been easy... it has just gotten easier. However, it doesn't happen by itself. When I was a teenager, I was afraid of heights so I took a hot air balloon ride that terrified me for the first 10 minutes and was the most peaceful thing I had ever done for the remaining hour. I couldn't stand the thought of being the kind of person who lived in fear -- of anything! The more something scares me, the more apt I am to try to conquer that fear. While this approach may not be for everyone, I highly recommend it -- it is actually quite freeing. The human spirit is an amazing thing. It inspires you at the strangest of times. Much like an athlete that trains regularly, with every hurdle I seemed to grow stronger. Age, wisdom, or just life experience -- I grew more and more confident in my ability to overcome challenges.
A series of very serious illnesses at a young age made me realize that my time here is finite and should not be wasted. If there is something I want to do or accomplish, very little can stand in my way. We always think we'll get to it tomorrow or the next day but, the truth is, we probably won't because life gets in the way. I adopted a "carpe diem" attitude very early on, mostly out of necessity, because I really did not know how many days I would actually get to seize and then it just became a way of life. I am so grateful for that outlook and, indirectly, for my many challenges and "hardships" because they have given me the gift of a positive attitude and the ability to live for today.
My life took the path that it took... there is no changing it and I have no regrets because I am so lucky for all the gifts I have in my life. Mostly, I am lucky enough to recognize those gifts and I appreciate every moment of happiness in ways that others take for granted.