The phrase “summer reading” has a negative connotation and gives even those many years out of school a sense of dread. Over the summer I was assigned to read “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. I sluggishly began to read the dense novel in August, just weeks before my deadline. My poor attitude in response to my assignment dramatically changed. My distracted, complaining thoughts of what I else I could be doing with my time altered as I neared the end of the book and I started to enjoy it. Studying and analyzing the text in school gave me further appreciation of the depth of the writing, and of my accomplishment.
When faced with a difficult task, all of us, more likely than not, inwardly groan. Challenges force us to step outside our safely familiar, ordinary way of life. This fearful response prohibits progress.
A few of my friends on Soldotna High School’s swim team added their personal example to this concept. During their workout at practice, they push themselves. While swimming a hard set, they often think to themselves negative thoughts that mirror their aching bodies. However, after their completion of the exhausting exercise, they take pride in what they have accomplished and often even think that they could have tried harder and gone faster.
The question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” commonly accompanies challenges. This question parallels “Why do athletes work out?”
Without an exercise of trials, people will not progress to their fullest potential. I do not regret facing any challenges in my life, even those as avoidable as struggling through a difficult novel, because of what they have taught me and shaped me into the person I am today.
In the book “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, which is now a major motion picture, a society exists without emotion, challenges, pain, or true happiness. Events materialize that bring them what they previously lacked. They soon find that they can’t fully appreciate or understand joy without its antithesis: suffering.
When precious metals such as gold and silver are mined, they contain impurities. With a fire a refiner must purge the metals of their imperfections within in order to yield their purest and most valuable state. We, like the treasured metals, must face trials to reach our full potential.
The highest level applying this concept is to actively seek out challenges in desire of the blessings and growth they bring. Whether that is reading arduous literature, exercising despite the physical pain, or facing your weaknesses, you will become stronger in every category.
Claire Kincaid is a senior at Soldotna High School.