Challenges & Overcoming Them

Challenges & Overcoming Them

Rosie Egan, Journalist

Everyone faces challenges in their lifetime. What really matters is how you cope with them, and overcome them. You can learn a great deal about yourself by the way you deal with failure. Failure is obviously undesirable, but sometimes necessary to learn lessons and build character. The knowledge gained from making mistakes and correcting them is essential to being successful.

A major culture shock is an excellent example of a challenge that must be overcame in order to continue normal everyday life. When I was ten years old, my stepfather received a promotion at Fedex. He was relocated to Belgium. Our family packed up, prepared as best we could, and accompanied him on his journey. Moving to a foreign country is difficult to get accustomed to, but it is a major opportunity to grow and learn. Travelling and experiencing plenty of new cultures at such a young age is incredible. However, there was a downside to the sudden culture shock. Everything was completely unfamiliar. The language, the way of life, the people and their attitudes. Even simple tasks, like going to the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant, seemed monumental in my eyes.

Something that made the switch substantially easier, though, was my school. I attended an international school from fifth to eighth grade. All the skills, social and academic, that I was taught in that school are irreplaceable. I was accepted and given a warm welcome into the system by the teachers and administration. My peers on the other hand were a completely different story. Even in the fifth grade, fitting in was a task. The kids all knew each other, and I was simply the shy new girl. For a long while, I spent my time alone, focusing on myself and school. Eventually though, I got tired of having no connections and I learned I was going to have to leave my comfort zone and enter unknown territory. I had to put myself out there, try to learn more about the people around me and do my best to establish relationships. I was never going to find my place and feel at home if I didn’t put forward my best effort. After this realization, I began to put aside my reservations and connect with the kids around me.

To this day, I don’t think I could be more thankful for the information I absorbed and all that I learned from my fellow peers and teachers. The chance to explore the diverse cultures and beliefs that differed from each student was indescribable. I had friends from what seemed like every country, all different religions and backgrounds. I learned to never judge by superficial elements of a person, but to judge by their character and personality. I believe the three years I spent at that school shaped my open mindset, the way I interact with people, and how I choose the people to surround myself with.

That being said, when I returned to the United States I faced the same issue. I moved to Memphis before the start of ninth grade. This switch almost seemed harder to make, but luckily, I had my newly learned skills and I knew what I had to do to make this place my home. I put aside any anxiety and put myself out there for a second time, to a whole different group of people. In the end, the challenges and hardships of making new friends and establishing new relationships, I began to feel at home. I believe this would not have been nearly as easy to achieve without the experience I had earlier in life. The ability to adapt to different environments is valuable, and I am very grateful to have gained it. It will help me throughout all my life, including going to college, and beginning my career in the future.