Adversity is always a “when” proposition, never an “if”. As such, it makes its presence known to you in a variety of forms, great and small.
Despite the inherent hardships and potential for disappointment, adversity always creates for you the opportunity to make a choice. You can decide to reveal the best of your character. On the other hand, you can also choose to reveal your worst side. If, in your darkest moments, you can choose to let your best nature shine bright, you can find the path leading out. Your light will also help others find their way out of similar circumstances.
More often than not, most definitions of adversity are limited to things that are visible or tangible. However, adversity is also evident in far more subtle contexts.
Take peer pressure for example.
Being identified as a part of a certain group might be viewed as an extremely important and noteworthy achievement for many people. In fact, it might be so vital to one’s identity and self-image, that making the wrong choices for what “appear” to be the right reasons, are just part of the program.
When the quest for inclusion becomes more important than doing what is right, your judgement becomes cloudy. What used to be black and white may gradually take on a gray appearance. Once certain situations dissolve into gray, you can rationalize just about anything. There really aren’t any distinctive qualities in those shades. It just is. Once you go there, there isn’t much contrast across the spectrum; only bad, badder or baddest.
Subverting your better nature and what you know is right can become a necessary evil if you are able to rationalize that being “one of the boys” is worth that cost. If the exchange rate on that transaction is tilted towards inclusion over what you know is right, that might indicate you hold a substantially low market value of yourself.
Self appraisal can be a tough assignment. It requires honesty, in terms of your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Speaking from experience, one can be your own toughest critic. Sometimes, when you are not able to see the good that resides from within, you might search to find it from some external source. However, that source – or group – can assert control over your self-appraisal process. They eventually determine your value. They will come to decide “who’ you are.
It is strange how certain people who seemingly have the world by the tail still feel they are lacking in some “thing” or a key element. This sense of emptiness leads them to pursue shallow, short-sighted, and often times risky behavior. Ultimately, their actions only serve to dig a deeper hole within themselves. That hole only becomes deeper as it grows wider. Just making it back to level ground – back to where they were as a person to begin with – can become a monumental task.
An entire professional football team has been punished for basically succumbing to peer pressure. And so far, the Saints are the only ones that have been caught. Coaches, management and players have been suspended, fined or expelled as a result of their poor choices. You wouldn’t think that adversity would take the form of just doing your best, playing hard but playing clean. But it did. And their choices revealed the worst of themselves.
They all failed to recognize and read the pressure.
By taking a black and white issue – the integrity of the game – and choosing to make it gray in the guise of “the culture”, they subverted their better selves; they revealed poor character. Despite the overwhelming, inherent value of their individual talents, gifts and experiences, they elected to squander themselves in a base lottery system. Rather than honor the privilege they have to engage in play for pay, they took everything for granted and cheapened our game.
Adversity is and will always be a “when” proposition. Lacking the character necessary to make the tough – yet right – choices in this particular case, they allowed adversity to put the big hit on them.
It is ironic that their decisions have led them to be “carted off.”