Movies tend to focus on the idea that an emotionally challenging event be it death, divorce, Job loss, bankruptcy, or a break, up often leads to a personal journey of growth.
For example the movie “Raising Helen” is about the single girl who found meaning in her life after she took custody over her sisters’ kids. “Hope Floats” is about the lady who found new love after her husband cheated on her. Similarly, “Daddy Day Care” takes a comic take on how one person’s job loss granted him new parenting skills , while “Wild” shows how a journey in the wilderness grants new meaning to life. The movie list goes on but the idea remains the same, where the simple formula seems to be; big life experience equals big self discovery and big tragedy equals personal growth.
So, I really wonder is life really that clear cut and predictable. If this formula always works in real life, then we should all embrace the tragedies and challenges thrown our way. In fact, we should even view them as God’s gift to the soul, but let’s face it unfortunately things don’t always work out that well in the real world.
In life, and after the death of a loved one, a tragic divorce, a job loss, or a messy break up, you would not be human if you woke up the next day, week, month, or even during the next six months and you went on with life like nothing happened. You would not tell yourself “Yay something terrible happened to me, so let me now discover myself”.
In reality the only growth you will feel is a growth in your appetite which will often lead to a growth in your waist line if you let this phase go on for too long. Maybe you can see a shrink in your temper, a growth in your tears deposit, and a growth in your appetite to shop for things you really don’t need, as personal growth is not an automatic reflex of hardship. It is a personal choice. It doesn’t come to you after the storms of challenge, but instead it comes to you at anytime you choose to invite it. Sure, we all go on after the terrible incidents life throws in our face, and sure we all change but not all of us change for the better.
Those who grow and prosper from their own bad luck are people who sat with themselves and decided that they should move on and they should rise above the tragedy. Unlike the formula we see in movies it is not a done deal that the tragedy you face will simply make you a better and stronger human being. Many people in fact roam this earth as worse human beings following their brake ups, or their experience of divorce, death, bankruptcy, or job loss. They become people with trust issued, commitment issues , or they simply transform themselves into bitter human beings unable to see the bright side of life. Others become people simply unaffected, and they spend the rest of their lives falling in the same trap and repeating the same mistakes. So, let us not make the assumption that tragedy is the leap from confused to Confucius and instead expect it to be the leap from confused to dark and bitter unless we make the effort to alter this outcome.
As always movies paint a rosy picture to tragedy that is simply not true. Those who become better people after tragedies are only the people who decided to analyze the situation, learn from it, and deal with it. Being better not bitter is a rational choice to do so. So, I wonder in a world where experiencing the tragedy is inevitable how many people sit with themselves and choose to learn from the experience. I’m thinking not many, because if many people took this step then we wouldn’t be repeating our mistakes and the world would be a better place. We all experience tragedies, but few of us change from them to the better. This is reality !