Enduring is Not Enough

Art by  Nikko .

Art by Nikko.

I recently read about a South African show called Soul City in the Anatomy of Buzz Revisited, by marketer Emanuel Rosen.

They based one of their seasons on the Zulu word ukunyamezela, "which means "to endure," and it reflected the way many women in the country thought they were supposed to deal with domestic violence -- it's something that they just had to live through."

It got me thinking about periods in my life where I felt like I just had to endure in order to get to the other side of things.

When I'm just so bored out of my mind, I start to question life, if I will ever realize my potential, if I'll marry someone, if I'll ever make enough money, etc.

  • For high school: I had to endure.
  • For college: just a little more endurance.

Enduring by itself is suffering at its greatest.

However enduring with action is the greatest builder of character I have ever experienced. It's taught me to take accountability for my actions. Enduring with action is the way of turning a shitty situation, into a period of growth, discomfort, and enlightenment all at the same time.

When I have to go through a poor period in my life, I know that I have complete control of the situation and can opt out if I choose to put in the action.

  • When the house is empty and there's no one to talk to: don't just endure your boredom with Netflix, go downtown to interact with people or go online to catch up with friends.
  • When there is no one telling you what to pursue in life: don't just endure a shitty job, go to a coffee shop after work and put your hours into a side hustle.
  • When you're in a relationship where you two fight every day: don't just endure every day, find a way to address the issues directly, or take an extended break from each other.

Don't just endure.

That path is the one that causes the most suffering, because it simply is helpless torture. When you tell yourself that you just have to endure something, it tricks your brain into thinking that there's nothing you can do about the situation.

Endurance without action is nearly meaningless.

Simply "lasting" through a tough experience will not provide you with what you want. But actively working towards making the best of the experience or completely leaving the experience will.

Don't misread this to think that I don't believe in tough experiences: I do. For tough experiences like bootcamp or a marathon, it's not enough to just endure. Every time you put a foot forward, or crawl an extra 2 inches, that's an action you're taking.

And that effort is what makes endurance with action all the more effective.

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