Character is an element that tends to escape definition. In one sense, it could be termed as the “complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person”. Another way to put it; “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person.” While words may fail to adequately capture its essence, when one has it, or displays it, you always seem to know it. The converse is equally true. It is patently obvious when it is missing.
Adversity in any form is the surest most reliable test of our character. It might come in the form of choosing between an hour misspent on Facebook or studying harder on the subject where your grades seem to be slipping. Maybe it is the moment your peers exert pressure on you to do something that you know is wrong, is unsafe and could harm someone. Perhaps it is a situation desperate for someone, anyone, to exercise some leadership, to stand up for what is right – and you choose to look the other way.
Some will mistakenly assert that adversity is how you “develop” that very personal resource; your character. However, nothing can be farther from the truth.
Character just simply, “is”. It exists to define you on the basis of how you choose to respond to adversity. It is your choices that will ultimately define you. It is through your choices that others will know that you either you “have it” or, you don’t.
As such, it becomes a testament of your nature, that you chose to meet your tests and your trials. While you might experience defeat, you can still choose not to succumb. Adversity, through its innate ability to strip you down to your core, will always reveal you for exactly who you are at that moment, whether good or bad, strong or weak, courageous or fearful.
If the adversity that you face at that moment reveals a weakness, you might have the opportunity to undergo some personal reinforcement for a test in the future. If you seek an easy, convenient and expeditious way out of a circumstance of your own creation, perhaps you will be afforded a chance for redemption. But if the penalty for your action – or inaction – is such that you lose what it is you value the most, there may never be a next time.
That too, brings with its own brand of adversity.