I believe what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger because I believe in the power of self determination. When I was growing up and something “bad” would happen my mom would always tell me what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. I’d always groan, nod, and go about my business thinking she had no idea what she was talking about. It wasn’t until just recently that I fully grasped the meaning of this saying.
About five months ago my grandfather got very sick, and what felt like overnight, he morphed from a mobile self sufficient professor to a dying, angry man who hated his world and everyone in it. When he passed away during finals week, I thought my whole world had been turned upside down. I spent my entire Christmas break pretending that nothing had happened and got ready to finish my sophomore year of college. Little did I know, my life was about to be turned upside down once again. I came back to school ready to start classes, unaware that my first week was going to be a little different than my peers. While my friends were going to parties and swapping Christmas fling stories, I was busy having surgery to have a melanoma removed from my leg.
I came back to school trying to make the most of everything, but something just wasn’t the same. I had no desire to go out with friends or to do normal college activities. My main focus was dealing with the death of my grandfather, catching up with school, finishing up my finals from the previous semester, and trying to transfer schools all while taking a full semester of classes. While my leg was healing, I began to feel that my health was diminishing. I spent more days in a doctor’s office than a classroom and more hours getting blood drawn than doing homework; all to hear that it was just a combination of stress and depression. At the time I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel; I was ready to just throw in the towel.
While every ounce of my body wanted to leave school and come home, something inside of me refused to give up. I’m not sure why I decided to stay or what actually kept me from quitting, but I didn’t. I didn’t let myself give into taking the “easy way out”. I stayed and fought to get my life back and I did. I feel like a different person now; I’ve caught back up with school, I’ve decided not to transfer, and I’m happier than ever; I’m back to being me.
I look back on those times growing up when my mom would tell me, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” and I smile. I smile because it means something to me now. As cliché and silly of a saying it is, it’s true, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and I believe just that.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.