In my debut novel, Calculated, the main character, Jo Rivers is a brilliant math prodigy who must learn an important lesson: “Destiny is not what we do, but it’s who we are.”
Understanding our identity is one of the most important lessons we can learn. Once we know who we are, everything we do flows from that understanding. After that, it’s hard to stop us—no matter what difficulties we face.
So what happens when things get tough? That’s a question Jo Rivers asks regularly. Throughout the Calculated series, like many of us, Jo faces some of the hardest challenges a human could ever face. She’s lost family members; been betrayed by people she loves; lost her home, her freedom, and struggles to have hope for the future.
Pain is universal but so is purpose.
Jo can’t escape her pain by traveling or romance or high performance, but likewise, she can’t escape who she is and her purpose. Often in the hard times, in the burning, the light becomes brighter. Perhaps we can’t see our purpose in the pain immediately, but like Jo, with the help of mentors and friends, she discovers her own strength and purpose. She then learns she can overcome her circumstances if she doesn’t give up and that the rewards awaiting her are far greater than her hard past.
When I was still a teen, I chose to leave the safe circle of friends and family to move to a foreign country. It was scary not knowing what I’d face — a new city, culture, language, all new people. I soon learned that some of the greatest rewards come from those moments when we choose to step past our comfort zones and into something new and difficult; to make choices that require our faith and inner strength.
Some of the greatest rewards come from those moments when we choose to step past our comfort zones and into something new and difficult.
It’s often when we feel the most uncomfortable and out of place that we learn who we are and what we’re capable of. For example, when I first decided I wanted to be an author, I had no idea the amount of work, patience, and endurance it would require to make that dream happen!
It took seven years of hard work to become a better writer, a lot of knocking on doors in a competitive industry, countless rejections and lots of ups and downs. But instead of letting the tough moments and rejections crush me, the experience made me stronger and more determined to succeed. I chose not to give up because I had learned who I was and believed writing books was something I was supposed to do.
Just as diamonds can’t be formed without pressure and our physical muscles can’t grow without a little pain, its the same with our endurance and character.
If we keep going, the hard things make us braver and stronger. Many good things I had hoped for are now happening in my life — but the best gift was who I became in the process.