What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

By Evan Glass

When going through a struggle, however difficult or easy it may be, we have a decision to make. We can either let it kill us (and control us), or we can embrace the struggle and make it an asset for ourselves and our lives. Unfortunately, most people let it kill them.

Throughout my life, I have struggled, sometimes profoundly. At the same time, I have lived a wonderful life. I am so blessed in many ways, and the struggles throughout my life have given me insight in how to live and how to be happy.

My father died of colon cancer on June 16th, 2010.

The death of my dad has been the most difficult thing in my life. I felt dead inside for three years after his passing. I was trapped in a life that I did not want to live. I let my struggle hurt me, and almost kill me. I fought and fought tirelessly against my feelings, against my faith in life and humanity. I would cry everyday at school and felt I did not have any help, that I was alone. I felt hopeless. I was simply existing. I was not alive. I was not living. I was looking at my struggle in the wrong manner. My depression at the time clouded my view that others wanted to help me.

No matter the bad things happen, never focus on the negative. Focus on the positive and all you have to be grateful for because it will make you happier and struggle less. It will become your strength.


Believe things are going to get better. The worst thing you can do is let the struggles in life become insurmountable, to let your struggle defeat you. No matter how tough life gets, never lose hope, even if it’s only a glimpse of grace. This slight bit of hope kept me going through my darkest hours. Eventually, this hope turned into something great. Always believe. Your life will turn around.         

Life is about the attitude you have. It’s about having a mindset that you will overcome your struggle with dignity.

Life can be really scary sometimes. The scariest moment of my life was during my sophomore year when I sat in my bed debating on whether my life was worth living. That thought kept coming into my head, and initially, I ignored it, distracted myself with things: soccer, movies, and alcohol, anything that I could use to escape my reality for those few hours or minutes. I pushed it off because it scared the living shit out of me. It kept coming back, not every day, but pretty often.

Neglecting these feelings fueled my depression. It’s something that lasted years and that I still feel it today on a much lower level. 

During my struggle, I came to understand I had to confront my fears and my pain.

It was not only crucial to acknowledge my struggle and pain, but more so, confront it. For a long time, I went through the motions and was so fucking glad when I was able to get back into bed every night. The fear of my struggle held me back from being able to overcome my struggle.

I viewed my struggle as my greatest weakness and liability. I was looking at it and life all wrong. Who could blame me for the circumstances in my life up to that point? I refused to face my own reality. Through much trial and error, I learned that you have to change your life to change your struggle. Taking action can change our feelings. You have to face the hard parts of life head on without fear.

“Fear not”    

Letting go of my fear and being able to face the death of my dad by talking about it to others, by letting my dad be my inspiration to keep fighting and get out of my struggle lead me to discover how to look at my struggle from a different point of view. I discovered how to embrace my struggle, not just cope with it. This calamity is a part of me and has allowed me to grow and mature; I was able to make it my greatest strength and change my life for the better. Experiencing my dad getting cancer and dying opened myself up to the beauty of life. My struggle taught me and continues to remind me to live in the moment and not take anyone or anything for granted because your time in the world can be gone in a matter of seconds.

Life is going to fucking suck sometimes, but you have to understand what its like to feel like shit, to struggle, because my struggle guided me to my happiness.

I was not able to overcome my struggle, so I befriended it and used it to my advantage. I embraced it. How? What did it do to me? It helped motivate me, it taught me to never give up, to discover that I can be happy in life; that I can be at peace with the death of my dad instead of fighting it. I turned my struggle into the greatest asset of my life. Nothing is permanent or handed to you, as my father taught me. My struggle has given me the strength to overcome anything in life (that I have experienced thus far), giving me the confidence to believe I can do anything that I want in life.

It’s my world. My struggle is not over by any means, but my perspective on my struggle has changed. I have learned to cope, and thrive in life by embracing this struggle, instead of fighting it. That’s when my life changed for the better.

I struggle everyday with things. Sometimes I struggle with being happy. Sometimes I struggle with expressing my feelings.

Embracing my struggle by allowing myself to feel hurt by the death of my dad has made me an asset to other people as well.

I struggle with being present all the time, as it is easy to be anxious of the future or dwelling on the past. This struggle leads to nervousness and unhappiness, but this struggle has helped me live in the moment and let my worries go.

Don’t brush your struggle aside, face it head-on. Don’t fear your struggle, it’s a part of me, and it has made me who I am today. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My struggles in life have made me strong, have taught me valuable lessons in life.

We have two choices: Let it kill you, or let it teach you how to feel most alive.