Why hard places provide the best opportunity for personal growth

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

I have never felt like I truly belonged in Denmark. Despite being here for seven years. Despite marrying a Dane. Despite raising a family here...

The softness of me gets pounded by the harshness of its culture and landscape - and the hardness of me clashes with its wholesome values and social responsibility.

It's an enigma to live here as woman brought up in sunlight and warmth - in vast landscapes and colourful oceans - in ancient cultures and vibrant song.

I love being in a safe country, a place I am proud to raise my family, a tight social system that looks after 'their own' - for this, I am truly grateful. But every day I live here, I lose a little of where I came from - and there is only one way I have kept that sacred, core piece of me in tact - introspection.

Because I can't change what is outside - I have worked for seven years to dig down and cultivate a connection with myself that can never be conformed into a culture. And this has become the creative grounds to where I flourish as a writer, a poet, a mother, and a spiritual being.

The endless winters have provided me with a slowness I never found in Africa. The bare landscapes have asked me to look closer at what I would usually have ignored. Subtlety, a quality now deeply imbedded in my awareness, has made me look at life as little miracles that are happening all the time - and you just need to become still to see them.

In truth - I would not be who I am now if not for this hard environment. And it's not hard for many - but from where I came, from the cultures I have lived in, from the way I was brought up, from the warmth I bathed my soul in and the feet I left bare - this is great contrast.

Fulfilment is the association of where you are compared to where you want to be so in that respect, living here would give me reason to not be very joyful.

I meet with contrast every day but what I do now is turn it into creativity. Instead of coming into conflict with my environment, I go inwards and find insight as to why my strongly- held identity won't open up to new possibilities, new ways of living and expressing myself. I need to look at whether I validate my beliefs - or a let go of them to embrace freedom.

It is a breaking down of the ego and an assimilation of spirit at the same time.

Would I have this introspection in a warm climate? Probably not. I would be comfortable. I wouldn't spend this energy on this particular contrast. I would find something else to conflict with and perhaps that contrast wouldn't be so demanding of me but it would always exist - this I have come to know.

All I can see from the past transformative years here is that hard surfaces may break you, they may crack you open and dismantle the pieces you have been keeping together for years - and this is an incredible opportunity to dig deeper into yourself and find your unconditional belonging within.

Life will always be easier somewhere else thats more familiar, more friendly, more this, more that...

But it all depends on how you live today - because that is how you will live the rest of your life.

I can continue to complain and validate the reasons this environment is not to my liking - or I can go deeper within and see how much my world is being reflected by my thoughts and beliefs - which means they are not the truth and can be changed.

Instead of trying to fix your environment to be exactly what you had in mind - perhaps try opening your mind to see how much of your current life you have asked for. Everything, in one way or another, has been allowed into your life to give you the greatest opportunity of growth - what are you doing with it? Constantly seeking how to change it? Or using it to inspire a deeper self-knowlege and creativity?

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Created with love in Denmark.

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