I used to believe a strong person could withstand all circumstances by simply choosing to rise above them. As a child I read the life of Anne Frank, amazed by her positive perspective and reminder to, “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy,” though she lived in and through the most horrific circumstances. I read about Helen Keller and watched “The Miracle Worker” in awe of her eventual insight and advice to, “Keep your face to the sunshine for it is there you cannot see the shadows.” I remember listening to the testimonies of missionaries, prisoners of war and victims of abuse who endured terrible situations yet found a happy (and powerful) retreating place in their minds in order to survive. Modern day mantras tell us to Rise Above It, Suck It Up, and Let It Go, claiming that happiness is always an inside job and while it may be difficult, things could be a lot worse.
I still believe much of these truths apply in a variety of ways, yet I am persuaded that simply Rising Above It, Sucking It Up and Letting It Go doesn’t necessarily mean enduring hardship and unhappiness willingly and for a lifetime. Eventually, for me, Rising Above It, meant ‘stop floundering, wallowing, waiting and withering.’ It meant getting a grip on my circumstances, seeing them objectively, so that I could make decisions for positive change. Sucking It Up didn’t mean ‘keep enduring and struggling for the rest of my life’, rather; it proclaimed ‘prepare for uncertainty as change is coming and most likely will be difficult.’ Letting It Go didn’t translate into believing ‘it (or I) didn’t truly matter and resigning myself to hopelessness.’ Letting Go meant releasing the circumstance, letting go of the familiar, walking away from the situation when nothing else could be done.
We have the strength within us to endure when we must, to persist when we choose, to rise above when it’s necessary. But we also have the ability (and the responsibility) to take care of ourselves. If that requires moving on, then by all means, move on. Rise Above It, Suck It Up, Let It Go and move on. Life is to be enjoyed not endured.