In some of my classes, I shared a story titled You Are Special by the famous American writer Max Lucado. The main storyline is the following: there was a village where wooden people lived. These people spent their days evaluating other wooden people, by giving golden star-stickers to talented or good-looking people and grey dot-stickers to not-so-special people. The main character in this story was covered with grey dots because he often made mistakes and was not special or talented in any way. He always felt crummy and discouraged around others. One day he met the wood-cutter who made him. Through his conversation with his maker, he was encouraged and confirmed by the fact that he was made in a very special way regardless of what the others thought of him. I want to talk about the truth you might have overlooked.
When you look at the real-life situations, you will realize that things are quite different from the fairy-tale stories. Things are oftentimes not ideal; sometimes, you cannot understand or accept what is going on around you. You may try your best, but the results are not always good. Or you may try to think affirmatively and believe that everything will eventually work out, but things do not seem to get better, however long you wait. Sometimes, you are overwhelmed by unexpected happenings or horrible incidents and feel so helpless about what is happening around you. Such situations often make you frustrated and defeated; you might be wondering what is wrong with you. Some of you even think it could be your fault that caused all the bad situations, which would make you feel aimlessly guilty. Others of you may feel angry about the situations and respond in anger in extreme ways? committing crimes, or even contemplating taking your own life. However, what you have to know is that in most cases, it is not your fault or incompleteness that causes all the difficulties and sorrowful moments; life goes on.
Now, what you have to notice is that every one of you is very special, even though sometimes it seems hard to believe it. There is only one of you in the whole universe; even twins are not identical in all aspects of their personality and experiences. In a sense, each of you is an art-piece made by an artist. Therefore, it's meaningless to compare yourself with others, just as there is no sense making comparison between art-pieces that were made for different artistic purposes. Just as you are made to be special and unique compared to other people, so are your life experiences. That is, every person has his own difficulties and adversity that are different from those that confront other people. It is natural that we do not want to experience a lot of sufferings and grief in our lifetime; however, there is a mystery of life with pain and sorrow, especially when you accept your life as it is and try to embrace no matter what may come in your life. All the happy moments and successes in our lives are surely worthy of being grateful for; but all the pains and sorrows as well as failures we experience can be far more precious and powerful, once we have successfully navigated through them. The truth is the following: it is not the moments of happiness and success that make us nice and firm; it is the painful and sorrowful moments that make us much more beautiful and stronger. I remember one moment several years ago when I was standing at a place very famous for its extraordinarily beautiful sunsets. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy on that day and the sky was filled with various shapes and layers of clouds. Despite the weather, people were standing there, patiently waiting for the sunset view. A look of worry came over the faces of people standing there, as if they were all asking: 'Will we be able to see the sunset at last?' As we waited, the sun gradually showed its face between those thick layers of clouds. People cheered and applauded at the scene of the unexpected sunset and the sun began to paint beautiful pastel-tone colors all over the sky. It was the best sunset I had ever seen. To me, it seems that our life colored with different moments of sorrow and pain as well as gratefulness and hope can make a beautiful art-piece that can provide encouraging and healing experiences to others. Indeed, there is a special fragrance of life full of sorrowful and painful experiences when they are finally overcome.
Life can be sometimes too hard to bear; it's not something you can choose. However, it is definitely your choice whether to give up your precious life or to accept it as it is and overcome all the difficulties through which you can attain priceless inner beauty. Things happen and it's not your fault. So, please don't give up and love yourself and your own life, because you are very special.
Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. - C. S. Lewis
(Baird University College, SSU)