The Struggle Is Real…Or Is It?

By Jeremy Carden

I’m certain that everyone reading this has either heard or said the phrase “The struggle is real.” Similar to Y.O.L.O. (You only live once), it has become a popular catchphrase of our generation. Typically, it is used to describe some type of hardship being experienced by an individual. However, just like those songs you hear on the radio 24/7…it gets old very fast.

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Now I’m not writing this blog to point fingers at people who say this phrase (because I say it on a daily basis) or to express my annoyance of it. The point of all of this is to ask the question; what does it REALLY mean to say “the struggle is real?”

Whenever it rolls off of your tongue the purpose behind saying it is to express that you recognize a difficult situation that either you or another person is going through. Recently, I’ve been going through some hardships of my own and I’ve found myself saying “the struggle is real” even more often than before.

A few nights ago I sat down and thought about my “struggles.” It wasn’t until I hashed out everything that I realized most of these struggles were self-created.

Take a moment and ask yourself; Am I the reason for most of my struggles?

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While I was mentally listing out my troubles, the phrase “You are your own worst enemy…” kept going through my mind. That makes a lot of sense because I’m one of those people who can be classified as an “over thinker” or a “worrywart.” I’m sure that some of you reading this can relate to me when I say that when you worry about something you can play 20+ worst case scenarios in your head about a situation in 30 seconds. Now if that does not cause a struggle for you mentality then I don’t know what does.

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For those of you who say that the struggle is real when it comes to losing weight, how many of you get off of the couch to take a walk or replace that soda in your hand with a bottle of water?

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To anyone having a difficult time trying to move on from a past relationship, are you still talking to your ex or find yourself looking at their pages on social media sites to keep track of what they are doing?

Our inner demons have a way of bringing out temptation and painful memories to bring us down. The struggle is real after you’ve gotten your heartbroken whem a relationship ends or you step on the scale and the number you see makes you want to breakdown and cry. Just the impossibility of getting into shape or putting the pieces of your heart back together truly makes the hardship of the situation escalate. Of course, these are just a couple of the many struggles people face in their lifetimes.

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Money is one of the primary struggles people use the phrase in reference to. Wanting to buy Frosted Flakes but you have to buy the generic brand instead due to a budget is “a struggle.”

Sometimes in order to overcome these struggles you have to do something about it!

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Want to lose weight? Stop scrolling through Facebook on your computer or sitting in front of your TV screen playing a video game for 5 hours straight! If you can do that then you can certainly manage to exercise for an hour or so a day.

Moving on from a relationship proving to be difficult? Stop pinning over the person who broke your heart! The more you dwell on it…the more painful it becomes. You cannot make room for the right person to come into your life if you are stilling holding onto feelings for the wrong person.

No struggle that we go through in life is impossible to overcome. Despite the difficulty one must face in order to conquer a struggle, it will all pay off in the long run.

If there was one thing that I’d want someone reading this blog to take away it is that “The struggle is real, but so is the reward on the other side.” We have to go through those times of hardship for 2 key reasons:

  1. Going through difficult times (struggles) help us to appreciate the good things in our lives once that period of hardship is over. You don’t truly appreciate something handed to you on the same level you do for something that you’ve earned through hard work and struggle.
  2. Despite the struggle(s) that you are going through at the moment there is something good waiting once it is over.

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Something else that I’ve heard many times is “Once you’ve hit rock bottom there is no reason to give up because that means the only direction that you can go is up!”

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Of course, some realists or Debby Downer would say something sarcastic or technical about how you can go even lower and melt at the center of the earth. All joking aside there is a lot of truth behind that statement. There are some moments in life where everything has to be torn down in order to be built back up again. What’s even better is that sometimes when your life is rebuilt it is even better than it was before. The downside is going through the pain of the struggles that come with that.

So the next time you say that “the struggle is real” just stop and think about whether or not you are the cause of it. The struggles we face are only as real as we make them. Are you spending more time complaining about your struggle or are you spending time doing something in order to overcome it?

 

 

 

 

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God Will Take You through the Storm

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Ever since I graduated from college in May, I’ve been feeling unfulfilled in terms of where I am in my life right now. I have filled out at least a dozen job applications, mailed out around 15 scholarship and donor letters in order to get help paying for graduate school and network as much as I can in order to get a few doors open to more opportunities. However, it has been almost two months and my efforts have not been successful in the least. For the past 3 years at Liberty University I used my time to study, network and do whatever I could in order to prepare myself for the world outside of the “Liberty Bubble.”

Now that I am in the world outside of the bubble, things do not seem to be going well at all. There hasn’t been a single job that has called me in for an interview or one where my application made it past the first round of applicants.

I live in Southern Virginia and for the past few days we’ve been getting nothing but storm after storm. The day might start out with the sun shining for a couple of hours but before long those dark storm clouds roll in. Next thing you know the sound of thunder rumbles from behind the clouds before a flash of lightning stretches out across the sky. After that, it is followed by the inevitable downpour that goes on and off for hours. 

The storms seem to represent some sort of outward manifestation of the storms that I seem to be going through in my life at the moment. I seem to be going through a storm of struggle, where I’m trying to walk towards success but the wind and rain seem to be pushing me back making the journey a difficult one.

Going further into this situation, I am reminded about Jesus’ parable of the house on the rock. During that story, the man who builds his house on a firm and stable foundation will be able to survive the storms that come and beat upon the house. It is meant to represent the kind of life we should live building our foundation on the faith of God. When I think about it, I realize that we are all going to go through hard times in life.

Looking up to the sky, all we can see are the dark clouds making it seem like all is lost. However, it is important to remember that the sun although out of sight is still there behind those clouds. After the storm is over, the clouds will depart but not before that first beam of sunlight cuts through. To me this represents the reward of all of the struggles we must endure during the storm of doubt. For those who keep the faith and keep on going no matter what the storm may dish out, just knowing that the sun is on the other side makes the storms worth it in the long run. 

Can You Truly Be Happy For Others If You Are Not Happy With Yourself?

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We all have that one friend who is successful at ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that they attempt to do. Of course no one is perfect but they are labeled by other people as “Mr. or Little Miss Perfect.” I’m sure a lot of you can relate when I mention how frustrating it is to have something that you work for or something that you try to do fail miserably. Then there are other times when you put your all into something but the results are not coming as quickly as you’d like them to.

There is a saying I think about whenever I begin to show distain for other people becoming successful or getting closer to their goals while I’m still stuck in the same place; “Jealousy comes from counting others’ blessings instead of our own.” That green-eyed monster starts to rear its ugly head whenever I begin to feel trapped just dreaming while other people I know are having their dreams become a reality.

For the past 2 ½ years, I’ve been working to become a professional songwriter; writing over 150 songs, mailing out dozens of letters to artists, spending money on songwriting books and getting my work copyrighted, emailing/calling over 50 potential lawyers for representation so I’ll be prepared whenever I reach my goal because I’ll need professional help, making demos, my own website (http://jccarde5.wix.com/jtunesmusic), Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/JC-Carden-Lyrics/159893560774888) and the list goes on.

However, even with the many contacts that I’ve made through networking there hasn’t been any big ups in my journey so far. The closest thing to success is making contact with a guy who runs a recording studio who will record any song I bring in that has “hit potential.” Honestly, this is a lot better than someone who just wants me to come in and record a song even if it’s horrible just to get my money. That is why I am determined to just use that particular studio. Downside is that I haven’t been able to find reliable people to record demos with; vocalists, other lyricists, people who know about using the necessary equipment or composers.

As you can imagine, I haven’t been in the best of spirits since my dream hasn’t been going so well. The thing that gets to me is that some of my other friends just seem to “fall” into their success or their next step in becoming successful in their dream career. You know what I mean when I say that, those people who do not have to work for anything. They seem to have everything fall right into their lap while you are working your butt off but nothing is happening.

Many people that have made it in whatever career they were pursuing says that the struggle is what made them appreciate their success even more. That is because they know what it is like to start at Square 1 with nothing but their dreams and own ambition. It is not about what you know it’s about who you know. Nothing could be closer to the truth that than statement because I try to remember that in any situation I find myself in.

Patience is the key but it is hard for me to fit that key into the lock of success because of how long I have to wait for something to happen. It is true that most artists and musicians have been working at their craft for most of their lives. For me 2 ½ years ago was when I finally found my passion in life that one thing I wanted to do more than anything for the rest of my days. I’ve been writing for a good portion of my life but it was when I reached the age that I was able to do something about it that changed everything for me. I write songs, short stories, poems and screenplays and it gives me great joy to be able to look at any piece of my finished work. That is because I put myself into my work and that gives me the greatest satisfaction.

Another thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be jealous of another person’s success. In fact, you should rejoice especially if it is someone close like a friend or relative because someone you know that has been working and praying hard has finally achieved something that they’ve been working for. True success comes when you have someone to share that  joy with.

Will I ever reach my dream? That depends as to whether or not it is what God has in store for me but I doubt that He would give me such a heated desire to pursue this dream if it wasn’t meant to happen. My hope is that you too will find that one thing you love doing more than anything else. One thing that we have to remember is that everyone has their own race to run, their own dreams and goals to follow then achieve. No matter who is getting their blessings around you whether it be through hard work or seemingly just handed to them it doesn’t matter. Why? Just knowing that somewhere down the road your blessing is waiting for you as a reward for the hard work you put into that project you are working on right now makes the struggle worth it.

Is Your Dream Falling On Deaf Ears?

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Ever feel like when you express your dreams, goals or desires to people that they aren’t listening or understanding you at all?

I go though that sometimes when telling people that I want to be a writer or more specifically a songwriter. It is like they brush it off like nonverbally saying; “What kind of ridiculous dream is that?”

I remember one time when I told my mom that I wanted to buy a guitar. You know so I could work on melodies myself. And the look she gave me was one that I can never forget. It was a look that said; “What in the world?!”

Prince and Taylor Swift are just a couple of my songwriting and music inspirations. Every knows that Prince is like a “god” of guitar and Swift being a country singer started out when a repair man came to her house and taught her a couple chords to play and the rest is history.

That kind of set me back seeing that she was my main supporter in my writing and then to witness her reaction to my statement just hurt a little on the inside.

Sometimes it does bother me especially after someone ASKS me what my passion/dream/goal is in life.

When your dream falls on deaf ears don’t worry because someday those same people are going to want to listen to what you have to say but it will be too late.

The point of this blog is to let you know how important it is to keep “real people” around you. People who listen and support your dream are the most important people to have at a time when you are building up your dreams. Also remember that the people you interact with help to shape who you are. Be around people who will bring you up and help in some way and also people that you can help by your work ethic or just being a friend.

Its funny how people are “deaf” to your dreams but once you succeed they suddenly get back their hearing because they want to listen to what you have to say and hope to slither in on your success.

Everyone who was present during the struggle deserves to be part of your success in some form or another.

Just remember that when you feel ignored by people when you talk about your dreams.