Today, I am pondering this quote:
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
– Maya Angelou
I find it interesting how Ms. Angelou distinguishes between “encountering defeats” and “being defeated.”
We encounter defeats every day: Things don’t work out as planned, another person disagrees with us, we fall short of a goal. But encountering defeat is something different from BEING DEFEATED. Being defeated is something that takes place in the mind and spirit. It’s a state of despair, of giving up, of abandoning goals and aspirations. We stop caring, we stop trying.
In the early 2000s, I became seriously ill, and was hospitalized for five weeks in the spring. Some of that time was spent in intensive care on a ventilator. I was scheduled to begin my Ph.D. program in the fall. By the time I was discharged in the summer, I was as weak as a newborn baby, in a lot of physical pain, and could hardly do anything but sleep. A walk to the mailbox at the end of the road exhausted me. Still, I was determined.
I moved to a new city that August and started my doc program. There were times I was teaching a class and was half doubled-over with pain. There were times when my medications left my mind too foggy to study, read, or write. These were defeats, to be sure – but I kept plugging ahead.
It took ten years to finish my Ph.D., but I did it. I didn’t allow myself to be defeated.
Dear ones, whatever challenges you are facing today, please think about this difference between experiencing defeat and becoming defeated. Get up, get dressed, and enter the world, even when you don’t feel like it. Reaching a goal … it happens in it’s own time, and it takes the time it takes.