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  • Writer's pictureJake

Here's to Looking Up

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

Among the graffitied comments on the year 2020 that will splatter the walls of the internet today, I too would like to offer my contribution or 20 cents. Many of us have seen triumphs in our lives and some have seen difficulties. I find companionship with the ones who know difficulty. As I look back on the purposeful portion of my relatively short lifespan, I more often than not, recount the difficulties: the closet apartment (Hobbit House) in Chicago, the monthly salary that didn’t cover my student loan payments or rent, the $10,000 balance on my credit card that I lived off of, or the 2 years I spent reinventing myself to find my ideal career job to name a few. It is these moments that give me the perspective I actually need in order to find happiness in all the other moments of my life. In short, a little pain now and again breeds a more happy life overall.

Something that is considered all too old-fashioned nowadays is the respect one earns by struggle, hardship and strife. We seek out the happy, the successful, and the careless people while avoiding the passionate hardworking fellows who want nothing more than to earn the lifestyle of the former. It is with these men and women, where I often find my deepest motivation and friendly connection.

I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people over the years, with who I often keep in touch. We share memories and reflect on what we’ve been through together. From living off eggs in my Chicago Hobbit House apartment to drinking soda water at the bar because our pride was too strong to admit that we couldn’t afford to go out in Chicago, my friends and I have seen our share of struggles together at some point.

Meanwhile, 2020 has brought some of these people back to the brink of despair. Two of my friends, newlyweds, excitedly set out on a mission to tour around the country in a camper. One worked as a blogger and writer, while the other guided their destination as a travel nurse. You might imagine how 2020 quickly turned their dreamy outlook of life together into a very different experience. This is a kind of struggle that I cannot relate to, but I respect them for faithfully undertaking the adventure, and I cannot wait to have the opportunity to talk with them about their story.

I, on the other hand, waive my right to the fifth. I plead guilty this year. Despite the perils many faced, I actually had a decent year. I never lost my job, I still got to see my friends and family, I earned my real estate license with two sales so far, and I never caught COVID-19. I suppose that in a year such as this, I can relate more to Joe Walsh than ever before (if you don’t get it, ask your parents).

All this is to say that I think we should always turn towards the light when it is dark. Faith and hope are among the most powerful tools we wield, and their proper application always crafts an intriguing story. Without a good struggle, there is no room for such virtues. I would never care to read the one about the guy who inherited a fortune, squandered it on his vices and then died one day. I’d rather read about the guy who built a life around his passions, values and people and did it his own way. While I tend to say that I wield the pen to my story, I still find fate’s interventions on it to be more entertaining than the pictures in my own imagination. Who really saw a global shutdown, global pandemic, economic turmoil, and record-high unemployment in an election year with record voter turnout coming? Don’t forget about the murder hornets (Definitely invented by CNN to drive rural Republican voters away from the polls)!

I ask you one favor today. Make a toast to 2021. Put the struggles of the past year behind you and with faith and hope in your heart, know that it can only get better from here! Here’s to looking up in 2021.

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Good read, Jake. I’m a firm believer that you have a choice how you respond from any hardship. I personally try to use it as an opportunity to learn, build trust in yourself, and be thankful for all that you have in the way of reasons to smile, be it friends, family, or anything else. With the right people and the right perspective, sometimes those doses of shit can be reasons to smile in the long run.

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