Challenges in life are obstacles that one has to surmount, to overcome in order to progress and to do so usually requires a display of admirable qualities such as courage and perseverance. Does challenges in life always bring out the best or the worst in a person? This is debatable as challenges can either make or break a person. Some people may not be able to hold out in a ‘test’ but succumb to the pressure. Tough times can reveal the true colours of a character, either for better or for worse, as in my personal experiences.
I remember when I was younger and when faced with adversity, I would either hide or run away from it, rather than take it on. One vivid instance of this was at my first camp with my uniformed group, the National Cadet Corps. it was the first time I was faced with a daunting experience. Every time my instructors barked out an order or reprimanded us, and these ‘lecture’ sessions seemed unending, I would cower at the back of my group, too shaken to do anything else. I was at a loss because the task of survival and completing the camp seemed so challenging that rather than bring out the best in me, actually did the contrary.
Every of the team challenge activity was the same – I was the ‘burden’ of my team, the ‘weak link’, who was always too frightened to do anything, always too timid to speak up and above all always too much of a coward to help my peers. If I could just run to save my skin and leave them to ‘die’ on enemy territory, I would. Hence, that is why adversity and challenges can sometime bring out the worst in a person, like they did to me, in this instance.
However, what doesn’t kill you make you stronger, and as I grew older, the more I found this to be true. One experience that I rose to the challenge was during an expedition to the jungles of Brunei during my early Secondary Three days. This expedition was like nothing I had ever been through before. This was not a guided tour on an air-conditioned bus but rather it was a gruelling 48 kilometres trek through the dense, humid jungle. This is where I think challenges bring out the best in people as midway through the course one of our group members collapsed from heat exhaustion. I couldn’t blame him then as I felt like I was ready to drop, too, with the heat of the sun beating down on us relentlessly.
The ‘water-parade’ exercise that we had carried out earlier seemed to have dissipated into thin air as my tongue was parched and hanging out a mile long. I knew the rest of the troupers felt the same way. But even under the scorching heat and the thick, humid air, each one of us pitched in and helped to carry our fallen comrades for the remainder of the trek. This I felt brought out exemplary traits in the team. It was due to the challenge placed upon us that we demonstrated resilience, perseverance and empathy for our fellowmen. Anyone of these traits would make a person better. Hence, that is why I think challenges do bring out the best in a person as we would not have expressed these traits if we were not place in tough spots.
In closing, whether challenges bring out the best or the worst in a person depends on whether the person succumbs to the test of is able to step up to the challenge. Different people react differently when placed in difficult situations. Some may shine in the darkness which brings out the beauty in them; some may get snuffed out by the darkness and express their worst form. From personal experiences, I have the honour of ‘achieving’ both, hence, I feel that the statement, ‘challenges in life bring out the best in a person’ is true if they bring out positive traits in that person, but if all the wrong reasons emerge, then it is only partially true.