The obstacles we face in life can make or break us and there’s no doubt they shape who we are as people.
They are capable of lifting us up and making us feel like we’ve achieved something, or knocking us down and making us feel lower than low. But the one thing we can take from hardships, if nothing else, is the opportunity to grow and change.
Some challenges we endure by choice – events such as the Great South Run this weekend throw up some lovely fundraising stories.
It’s heart-warming to see lots of people striving to raise money for charity and, more often than not, take on the task in the name of someone they love, while doing something good for themselves too.
Then come the challenges we have no choice but to face. Sometimes we have time to prepare and sometimes we don’t. From being told you’re being made redundant and having to find a new job just before your bills are due, to having to fill in last minute for a sick colleague on a presentation you know nothing about – these challenges come in all different shapes and sizes.
To me, there’s a difference between a challenge and adversity. A challenge is tough, yes, but there is an end in sight, a solution or a way around, and each time we are thrust outside of our comfort zone we learn something new and we grow.
What really strikes me is when people suffer terrible ordeals but manage to pick themselves up, adopt an incredible fighting spirit and take all the positivity they possibly can.
Last week I saw an article online about a 36-year-old father from Stockbridge who lost four limbs after his cold turned into a flesh-eating bug. Despite this, Alex Lewis completed a gruelling 120-mile paddle through the Arctic Circle for charity, after having prosthetic arms fitted especially for the task.
I can’t comprehend how a human being can have so much mental strength, will and determination, to not only not allow what happened to him defeat him, but to then go one step further and help others by completing the 120-mile paddle.
Alex shows us that even the most awful of situations can bring about some good, but only if we choose to be positive. It’s something that is easier said than done, and if I was in Alex’s situation I don’t know if I could be as positive as him.
But his attitude reminds me of one of the most valuable phrases I’ve ever heard: ‘You can’t change what has happened to you, but you can change your reaction to it and what you do about it.’
To find about more about Alex’s story or to donate to the Alex Lewis Trust, visit alex-lewis.co.uk.
• Twenty-three-year-old Tamara Siddiqui is a journalist at The News. Read her views on life as a modern woman in an ever-changing world every Tuesday, online or in the newspaper.