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a difficult journey essay

How to Write the “Overcoming Challenges” Essay + Examples

What’s covered:.

  • What is the Overcoming Challenges Essay?
  • Real Overcoming Challenges Essay Prompts
  • How to Choose a Topic
  • Writing Tips

Overcoming Challenges Essay Examples

  • Where to Get Your Essay Edited

While any college essay can be intimidating, the Overcoming Challenges prompt often worries students the most. Those students who’ve been lucky enough not to experience trauma tend to assume they have nothing worth saying. On the other hand, students who’ve overcome larger obstacles may be hesitant to talk about them.

Regardless of your particular circumstances, there are steps you can take to make the essay writing process simpler. Here are our top tips for writing the overcoming challenges essay successfully.

What is the “Overcoming Challenges” Essay?

The overcoming challenges prompt shows up frequently in both main application essays (like the Common App) and supplemental essays. Because supplemental essays allow students to provide schools with additional information, applicants should be sure that the subject matter they choose to write about differs from what’s in their main essay.

Students often assume the overcoming challenges essay requires them to detail past traumas. While you can certainly write about an experience that’s had a profound effect on your life, it’s important to remember that colleges aren’t evaluating students based on the seriousness of the obstacle they overcame.

On the contrary, the goal of this essay is to show admissions officers that you have the intelligence and fortitude to handle any challenges that come your way. After all, college serves as an introduction to adult life, and schools want to know that the students they admit are up to the task. 

Real “Overcoming Challenges” Essay Prompts

To help you understand what the “Overcoming Challenges” essay looks like, here are a couple sample prompts.

Currently, the Common Application asks students to answer the following prompt in 650 words or less:

“The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?”

For the past several years, MIT has prompted students to write 200 to 250 words on the following:

“Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?”

In both cases, the prompts explicitly ask for your response to the challenge. The event itself isn’t as important as how it pushed you to grow.

How to Choose a Topic for an Essay on Overcoming Challenges

When it comes to finding the best topic for your overcoming challenges essays, there’s no right answer. The word “challenge” is ambiguous and could be used to reference a wide range of situations from prevailing over a bully to getting over your lifelong stage fright to appear in a school musical. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when selecting an essay subject.

1. Avoid trivial or common topics

While there aren’t many hard-and-fast rules for choosing an essay topic, students should avoid overdone topics.

These include:

  • Working hard in a challenging class
  • Overcoming a sports injury
  • Moving schools or immigrating to the US
  • Tragedy (divorce, death, abuse)

Admissions officers have read numerous essays on the subject, so it’s harder for you to stand out (see our full list of cliché college essay topics to avoid ). If events like these were truly formative to you, you can still choose to write about them, but you’ll need to be as personal as possible. 

It’s also ideal if you have a less traditional storyline for a cliché topic; for example, if your sports injury led you to discover a new passion, that would be a more unique story than detailing how you overcame your injury and got back in the game.

Similarly, students may not want to write about an obstacle that admissions committees could perceive as low stakes, such as getting a B on a test, or getting into a small fight with a friend. The goal of this essay is to illustrate how you respond to adversity, so the topic you pick should’ve been at least impactful on your personal growth.

2. Pick challenges that demonstrate qualities you want to highlight

Students often mistakenly assume they need to have experienced exceptional circumstances like poverty, an abusive parent, or cancer to write a good essay. The truth is that the best topics will allow you to highlight specific personal qualities and share more about who you are. The essay should be less about the challenge itself, and more about how you responded to it.

Ask yourself what personality traits you want to emphasize, and see what’s missing in your application. Maybe you want to highlight your adaptability, for example, but that isn’t clearly expressed in your application. In this case, you might write about a challenge that put your adaptability to the test, or shaped you to become more adaptable.

Here are some examples of good topics we’ve seen over the years:

  • Not having a coach for a sports team and becoming one yourself
  • Helping a parent through a serious health issue
  • Trying to get the school track dedicated to a coach
  • Having to switch your Model UN position last-minute

Tips for Writing an Essay About Overcoming Challenges

Once you’ve selected a topic for your essays, it’s time to sit down and write. For best results, make sure your essay focuses on your efforts to tackle an obstacle rather than the problem itself. Additionally, you could avoid essay writing pitfalls by doing the following:

1. Choose an original essay structure

If you want your overcoming challenges essay to attract attention, aim to break away from more traditional structures. Most of these essays start by describing an unsuccessful attempt at a goal and then explain the steps the writer took to master the challenge. 

You can stand out by choosing a challenge you’re still working on overcoming, or focus on a mental or emotional challenge that spans multiple activities or events. For example, you might discuss your fear of public speaking and how that impacted your ability to coach your brother’s Little League team and run for Student Council. 

You can also choose a challenge that can be narrated in the moment, such as being put on the spot to teach a yoga class. These challenges can make particularly engaging essays, as you get to experience the writer’s thoughts and emotions as they unfold.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to have succeeded in your goal for this essay. Maybe you ran for an election and lost, or maybe you proposed a measure to the school board that wasn’t passed. It’s still possible to write a strong essay about topics like these as long as you focus on your personal growth. In fact, these may make for even stronger essays since they are more unconventional topics.

2. Focus on the internal

When writing about past experiences, you may be tempted to spend too much time describing specific people and events. With an Overcoming Challenges essay though, the goal is to focus on your thoughts and feelings.

For example, rather than detail all the steps you took to become a better public speaker, use the majority of your essay to describe your mental state as you embarked on the journey to achieving your goals. Were you excited, scared, anxious, or hopeful? Don’t be afraid to let the reader in on your innermost emotions and thoughts during this process.

3. Share what you learned 

An Overcoming Challenges essay should leave the reader with a clear understanding of what you learned on your journey, be it physical, mental, or emotional. There’s no need to explicitly say “this experience taught me X,” but your essay should at least implicitly share any lessons you learned. This can be done through your actions and in-the-moment reflections. Remember that the goal is to show admissions committees why your experiences make you a great candidate for admission. 

Was I no longer the beloved daughter of nature, whisperer of trees? Knee-high rubber boots, camouflage, bug spray—I wore the g arb and perfume of a proud wild woman, yet there I was, hunched over the pathetic pile of stubborn sticks, utterly stumped, on the verge of tears. As a child, I had considered myself a kind of rustic princess, a cradler of spiders and centipedes, who was serenaded by mourning doves and chickadees, who could glide through tick-infested meadows and emerge Lyme-free. I knew the cracks of the earth like the scars on my own rough palms. Yet here I was, ten years later, incapable of performing the most fundamental outdoor task: I could not, for the life of me, start a fire. 

Furiously I rubbed the twigs together—rubbed and rubbed until shreds of skin flaked from my fingers. No smoke. The twigs were too young, too sticky-green; I tossed them away with a shower of curses, and began tearing through the underbrush in search of a more flammable collection. My efforts were fruitless. Livid, I bit a rejected twig, determined to prove that the forest had spurned me, offering only young, wet bones that would never burn. But the wood cracked like carrots between my teeth—old, brittle, and bitter. Roaring and nursing my aching palms, I retreated to the tent, where I sulked and awaited the jeers of my family. 

Rattling their empty worm cans and reeking of fat fish, my brother and cousins swaggered into the campsite. Immediately, they noticed the minor stick massacre by the fire pit and called to me, their deep voices already sharp with contempt. 

“Where’s the fire, Princess Clara?” they taunted. “Having some trouble?” They prodded me with the ends of the chewed branches and, with a few effortless scrapes of wood on rock, sparked a red and roaring flame. My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame. 

In the tent, I pondered my failure. Was I so dainty? Was I that incapable? I thought of my hands, how calloused and capable they had been, how tender and smooth they had become. It had been years since I’d kneaded mud between my fingers; instead of scaling a white pine, I’d practiced scales on my piano, my hands softening into those of a musician—fleshy and sensitive. And I’d gotten glasses, having grown horrifically nearsighted; long nights of dim lighting and thick books had done this. I couldn’t remember the last time I had lain down on a hill, barefaced, and seen the stars without having to squint. Crawling along the edge of the tent, a spider confirmed my transformation—he disgusted me, and I felt an overwhelming urge to squash him. 

Yet, I realized I hadn’t really changed—I had only shifted perspective. I still eagerly explored new worlds, but through poems and prose rather than pastures and puddles. I’d grown to prefer the boom of a bass over that of a bullfrog, learned to coax a different kind of fire from wood, having developed a burn for writing rhymes and scrawling hypotheses. 

That night, I stayed up late with my journal and wrote about the spider I had decided not to kill. I had tolerated him just barely, only shrieking when he jumped—it helped to watch him decorate the corners of the tent with his delicate webs, knowing that he couldn’t start fires, either. When the night grew cold and the embers died, my words still smoked—my hands burned from all that scrawling—and even when I fell asleep, the ideas kept sparking—I was on fire, always on fire.

This essay is an excellent example because the writer turns an everyday challenge—starting a fire—into an exploration of her identity. The writer was once “a kind of rustic princess, a cradler of spiders and centipedes,” but has since traded her love of the outdoors for a love of music, writing, and reading. 

The story begins in media res , or in the middle of the action, allowing readers to feel as if we’re there with the writer. One of the essay’s biggest strengths is its use of imagery. We can easily visualize the writer’s childhood and the present day. For instance, she states that she “rubbed and rubbed [the twigs] until shreds of skin flaked from my fingers.”

The writing has an extremely literary quality, particularly with its wordplay. The writer reappropriates words and meanings, and even appeals to the senses: “My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame.” She later uses a parallelism to cleverly juxtapose her changed interests: “instead of scaling a white pine, I’d practiced scales on my piano.”

One of the essay’s main areas of improvement is its overemphasis on the “story” and lack of emphasis on the reflection. The second to last paragraph about changing perspective is crucial to the essay, as it ties the anecdote to larger lessons in the writer’s life. She states that she hasn’t changed, but has only shifted perspective. Yet, we don’t get a good sense of where this realization comes from and how it impacts her life going forward. 

The end of the essay offers a satisfying return to the fire imagery, and highlights the writer’s passion—the one thing that has remained constant in her life.

“Getting beat is one thing – it’s part of competing – but I want no part in losing.” Coach Rob Stark’s motto never fails to remind me of his encouragement on early-morning bus rides to track meets around the state. I’ve always appreciated the phrase, but an experience last June helped me understand its more profound, universal meaning.

Stark, as we affectionately call him, has coached track at my high school for 25 years. His care, dedication, and emphasis on developing good character has left an enduring impact on me and hundreds of other students. Not only did he help me discover my talent and love for running, but he also taught me the importance of commitment and discipline and to approach every endeavor with the passion and intensity that I bring to running. When I learned a neighboring high school had dedicated their track to a longtime coach, I felt that Stark deserved similar honors.

Our school district’s board of education indicated they would only dedicate our track to Stark if I could demonstrate that he was extraordinary. I took charge and mobilized my teammates to distribute petitions, reach out to alumni, and compile statistics on the many team and individual champions Stark had coached over the years. We received astounding support, collecting almost 3,000 signatures and pages of endorsements from across the community. With help from my teammates, I presented this evidence to the board.

They didn’t bite. 

Most members argued that dedicating the track was a low priority. Knowing that we had to act quickly to convince them of its importance, I called a team meeting where we drafted a rebuttal for the next board meeting. To my surprise, they chose me to deliver it. I was far from the best public speaker in the group, and I felt nervous about going before the unsympathetic board again. However, at that second meeting, I discovered that I enjoy articulating and arguing for something that I’m passionate about.

Public speaking resembles a cross country race. Walking to the starting line, you have to trust your training and quell your last minute doubts. When the gun fires, you can’t think too hard about anything; your performance has to be instinctual, natural, even relaxed. At the next board meeting, the podium was my starting line. As I walked up to it, familiar butterflies fluttered in my stomach. Instead of the track stretching out in front of me, I faced the vast audience of teachers, board members, and my teammates. I felt my adrenaline build, and reassured myself: I’ve put in the work, my argument is powerful and sound. As the board president told me to introduce myself, I heard, “runners set” in the back of my mind. She finished speaking, and Bang! The brief silence was the gunshot for me to begin. 

The next few minutes blurred together, but when the dust settled, I knew from the board members’ expressions and the audience’s thunderous approval that I had run quite a race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough; the board voted down our proposal. I was disappointed, but proud of myself, my team, and our collaboration off the track. We stood up for a cause we believed in, and I overcame my worries about being a leader. Although I discovered that changing the status quo through an elected body can be a painstakingly difficult process and requires perseverance, I learned that I enjoy the challenges this effort offers. Last month, one of the school board members joked that I had become a “regular” – I now often show up to meetings to advocate for a variety of causes, including better environmental practices in cafeterias and safer equipment for athletes.

Just as Stark taught me, I worked passionately to achieve my goal. I may have been beaten when I appealed to the board, but I certainly didn’t lose, and that would have made Stark proud.

While the writer didn’t succeed in getting the track dedicated to Coach Stark, their essay is certainly successful in showing their willingness to push themselves and take initiative.

The essay opens with a quote from Coach Stark that later comes full circle at the end of the essay. We learn about Stark’s impact and the motivation for trying to get the track dedicated to him.

One of the biggest areas of improvement in the intro, however, is how the essay tells us Stark’s impact rather than showing us: His care, dedication, and emphasis on developing good character has left an enduring impact on me and hundreds of other students. Not only did he help me discover my talent and love for running, but he also taught me the importance of commitment and discipline and to approach every endeavor with the passion and intensity that I bring to running.

The writer could’ve helped us feel a stronger emotional connection to Stark if they had included examples of Stark’s qualities, rather than explicitly stating them. For example, they could’ve written something like: Stark was the kind of person who would give you gas money if you told him your parents couldn’t afford to pick you up from practice. And he actually did that—several times. At track meets, alumni regularly would come talk to him and tell him how he’d changed their lives. Before Stark, I was ambivalent about running and was on the JV team, but his encouragement motivated me to run longer and harder and eventually make varsity. Because of him, I approach every endeavor with the passion and intensity that I bring to running.

The essay goes on to explain how the writer overcame their apprehension of public speaking, and likens the process of submitting an appeal to the school board to running a race. This metaphor makes the writing more engaging and allows us to feel the student’s emotions.

While the student didn’t ultimately succeed in getting the track dedicated, we learn about their resilience and initiative: I now often show up to meetings to advocate for a variety of causes, including better environmental practices in cafeterias and safer equipment for athletes.

Overall, this essay is well-done. It demonstrates growth despite failing to meet a goal, which is a unique essay structure. The running metaphor and full-circle intro/ending also elevate the writing in this essay.

Where to Get Your Overcoming Challenges Essay Edited

The Overcoming Challenges essay is one of the trickier supplemental prompts, so it’s important to get feedback on your drafts. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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a difficult journey essay

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Essays About Journeys: Top 5 Examples and 7 Easy Prompts

Essays about journeys require recounting the events of your travel. Discover our guide with examples and prompts to help you write your essay.

No two journeys are the same, and various factors will always be at play. It’s the reason many documents their expedition through different mediums. Writing about journeys is similar to telling a real-life story that influenced your character or perspective. 

Writing essays about journeys helps to develop your writing and observation skills as you recall and pick the highlights of your travel. Sharing your experiences can entice readers to take on a journey themselves. So, aim to inspire with this exciting essay topic.

5 Essay Examples

1. the best journey in my life by suzanne pittman, 2. road trips: everything you need for a comfortable journey by car by anonymous on gradesfixer.com, 3. the first day of my journey to adulthood by anonymous on papersowl.com, 4. life is a journey essay by anonymous on paperwritings.com, 5. long essay on train journey by prasanna, 1. reasons to go on a journey, 2. trip vs. journey, 3. how to enjoy long journeys, 4. my most memorable journey, 5. what makes a journey meaningful, 6. my dream journey, 7. a hero’s journey.

“I had to save a lot of money because I wanted very much to go on this journey with my friends. We planned our trip to take us around Europe. We were going to stop in various parts of Europe with family members and friends.”

The essay mimics Pittman’s travel itinerary during her journey in Europe. She includes all the trip details from the first to the last day and makes the readers feel as if they’re traveling with them. Pittman also offers some travel tips to help anyone who wants to visit Europe on a budget. These tips include staying with friends and relatives and taking comfortable train rides despite long distances.

“With proper planning, everything else seems effortless. You need to consider all factors when planning in order for you to enjoy a successful, stress-free adventure.”

The author believes that the primary purpose of traveling is to relax and have fun. They use the essay to teach how to plan car trips properly. Travelers must learn to budget and estimate expenses, including accommodation, gas, activities, and food. Picking a transportation means is also crucial as one needs to consider factors such as capacity, range, and utility. 

“Although things didn’t go how I planned I’m still in college bettering myself and furthering my education. Anything is possible with a good support system and positive mindset.”

The essay narrates how the author’s journey into adulthood becomes a mini-vacation in Georgia after their top university rejects their enrollment. This rejection offers the opportunity to understand many great life lessons. Despite having five other universities to choose from, the writer realizes they only provide free tuition for the first semester. Ultimately, the author receives a full scholarship to a university closer to home.

“All people have the same journey to take – their life. As well as in the other journeys, there may be some inconveniences, disappointments and joys, and a lot depends on how we plan this particular journey and what attitude we develop towards it.”

In this essay, the writer shares that the best way to go on a life journey is with the most joy and minor damage you can endure. It’s constant work to continuously improve one’s life while developing positive qualities and thinking. But in doing so, you’ll have a solid foundation to achieve what you want out of life. However, the author still reminds the readers that they should always be ready to face unexpected events and deal with them in the best way possible.

“These days, people prefer traveling via airplanes because it is time-saving. But going by plane gets boring and monotonous. Train journeys are a relief from the monotony.”

For Prasanna, whether it’s a short or extended tour, a train journey offers an exciting travel experience. She talks about the local and regional trains in India, which are often overcrowded but still used by many as they are the cheapest, safest, and fastest mode of transport in the country. She also mentions that you’ll never get hungry when riding their local trains because of the vendors who sell Indian delicacies. 

7 Prompts for Essays About Journeys 

Essays About Journeys: Reasons to go on a journey

Everyone has different motives for traveling. Some go on a journey to appreciate beautiful sceneries, while some move to attend family or work-related gatherings. Some do so to run away from problems. For this prompt, research the common reasons to travel. You can also interview people on why they go on a journey and add any personal experiences. 

It’s a trip when a person travels from one point to another without any transfers. Meanwhile, a journey is a more extended voyage that includes transfers and several trips. Compare and contrast trips and journeys to make your readers understand their similarities and differences. You can also have the advantages and disadvantages of each in your paper.

If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

The idea of having a long journey and discovering new things is exciting. However, the excitement can disappear when you’re far away from home. This is especially true for longer and farther travels. This prompt will help readers have a safer, more affordable, and more enjoyable trip by discussing the best long-distance travel tips. You can present an imaginary itinerary with estimated costs to make the essay more digestible.

Write about an unforgettable journey you’ve had through this prompt. Include the purpose of your travel, how you planned it, and if your timetable was followed. Share what you’ll improve on next time to make your journey even better; you can also talk about your companions and the activities that make the adventure worthwhile.

Journeys become meaningful when they enrich lives. It can be because of the destination, the people you are with, or the travel’s goal. Use this prompt to suggest how journeys improve us as humans. You can section your piece based on an individual’s objectives. For example, someone who wants to recharge and get away from the city will find meaning in going to a location far from technology.

Essays About Journeys: My dream journey

Although traveling can be tiring, 43% of travelers appreciate the experience they gain. Think of journeys you desire to be in and add your reasons. Then, you can share your plan on how to make it happen. For instance, you want to tour Southeast Asia and visit countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. To make this dream journey come true, you’ll save for an entire year and work around a tight budget.

It’s normal to see the main character in a movie or novel go through a character arc before they become a true hero. Use this prompt to explain a hero’s journey and why the character must go through it. To give you an idea, Peter Parker was a shy and introverted kid who lived an everyday life before becoming Spider-Man. This makes him relatable to the audience and lets them understand his decisions in the following scenes.

For more examples, check out our guide to movies that follow the hero’s journey .

You can also talk about real-life heroes, such as doctors and firefighters. Interview someone with that profession and ask them why they decided to have their current career.

a difficult journey essay

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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All About Me: a Personal Journey

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Published: Sep 7, 2023

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My background, my interests, my aspirations.

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a difficult journey essay


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How to Write a Personal Challenge Essay (with Examples)

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A personal challenge essay offers a singular chance for introspection and personal development. It gives you a chance to consider your past, face difficulties, and demonstrate your tenacity. This essay structure enables you to communicate your ideas and experiences with others, regardless of whether you’ve overcome hardship, dealt with a tricky circumstance, or chased an audacious goal. You’ll walk you through the phases of writing an engaging personal challenge essay in this in-depth guide, complete with samples that demonstrate the procedure.

Understanding the Personal Challenge Essay

The Personal challenges in life as a student essay asks you to describe an instance or time in your life when you had to overcome challenges, setbacks, or barriers. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your resilience, your capacity to face adversity, and the lessons you’ve picked up along the road. This kind of article necessitates reflection, sincerity, and skillful narrative.

Selecting a Meaningful Challenge

It’s important to pick the correct challenge to write about. Think about Personal challenges in life as a student essay that profoundly influenced your development, principles, or attitude on life. It can have been an obstacle you overcame in your studies, relationships, sense of self, or any other area of your life. The task should have personal significance for you and provide information that your audience can relate to.

Structuring Your Personal Challenge Essay

To effectively portray your experiences, feelings, and growth, writing an engaging personal challenge essay involves careful thought and a well-organized format. The following steps will show you how to organize your essay such that it presents a logical and interesting story:


Beginning your essay with an attention-grabbing hook that draws the reader in and highlights the topic of the difficulty you’ll be exploring is a good idea. This might be a provocative inquiry, a moving saying, a detailed account, or a first-hand account associated with your issue.

Background & Context:

Make sure the reader has all the background knowledge they need to comprehend your dilemma. Describe the context, surroundings, and any other pertinent information that establishes the scene for your narrative. Additionally, you have the choice to ask for assistance from PhD thesis writing help if you run into difficulties when writing the background and context of your thesis or dissertation or if you are unsure owing to a lack of experience. They can offer helpful assistance to improve the caliber of your work.

The Challenge:

Describe the challenge in detail in a portion of your essay. When describing the challenges, difficulties, or setbacks you encountered, be descriptive and in-depth.

Your Reaction and Result:

Write about how you responded to the challenge in this part. What steps have you taken? Did you make crucial decisions, prepare a plan, or ask for assistance? Be sure to emphasize your ability to solve problems, tenacity, and any other traits that may have helped you overcome the obstacle.

Growth and Reflection:

Consider the encounter and share what you took away from it. What effects did the challenge have on your emotions, mind, and possibly even body? What new understandings did you get about who you are, your values, or your outlook on life? Describe how you overcame the obstacle to grow personally, discover yourself, or alter your perspective.

Takeaways & Lessons:

The exact lessons you took away from overcoming the obstacle should be highlighted. What priceless knowledge, abilities, or traits did you acquire as a result? Describe how these teachings have shaped your current behavior, choices, or attitude in life.


Writing a compelling conclusion that connects everything can help you to conclude your essay. Write a summary of your shared journey, highlighting your personal development and new perspectives.

Include a Call to Action (Optional):

Depending on the nature of your issue, you might want to include a call to action that prompts the reader to reflect on their own issues, take action, or adopt a particular attitude.

After you’ve finished writing the essay, take some time to review and make any necessary changes. Check that the grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your writing are correct, as well as the flow.

Maintain You’re Authentic Voice Throughout the Essay:

While it’s crucial to follow a structured methodology, don’t forget to preserve your authentic voice. Remain sincere, honest, and personal in your writing. Your unique perspective and emotions will lend greater authenticity to your writing and make it more compelling. By adhering to the instructions outlined in this comprehensive guide, you’ll effectively organize your personal challenge essay. This approach will skillfully lead your readers through your journey, captivating their attention and leaving a memorable impression. Furthermore, if you find it challenging to maintain a systematic approach, consider seeking assistance from master thesis writing help. Their expertise can aid you in completing your work with precision and coherence.

Don’ts and Dos

Be upfront and honest when discussing your experiences. Do emphasize your development and lessons acquired. To keep the reader’s attention, employ colorful language and descriptions. Don’t make up or embellish details. Instead of blaming others for the difficulty, concentrate on your solution. Choose a challenge that had a significant influence rather than one that was inconsequential.

Examples of Personal Challenge Essays

Following are the Personal challenge essay examples:

Overcoming Academic Challenges:

Navigating the challenges we face in life essay can be a transformative journey that leads to personal growth and self-discovery. A prime example of this is when I confronted a series of academic setbacks. I realized that my ingrained fear of failing was standing in the way of my development. I, however, resisted allowing this fear to direct my course. I started a quest for self-improvement with pure tenacity. I reached out for guidance and support, shedding light on the power of seeking assistance when needed.

Overcoming Fear:

For instance, I had always been terrified of public speaking, but I had to face my phobia to present in front of a large crowd. I overcame my anxiety about public speaking over time with practice and confidence, and I also acquired speaking abilities that I still use today.

Dealing with Personal Loss:

Losing a loved one was a difficult emotional experience that altered my outlook on relationships and life. I learned the value of cherishing moments and helping others in need through my grief and contemplation.

Examples of challenges you have overcome as a student essay

I have encountered a range of challenges as a student, which has pushed my perseverance, adaptability, and resilience to the test. Even though they occasionally proved to be challenging, these obstacles ultimately helped me become a better and more capable individual. Here are a few instances of obstacles I overcame in my academic career:

Time Management Challenges:

Juggling schoolwork, assignments, extracurricular activities, and personal obligations can be difficult. There were times when I struggled to adequately manage my time, which resulted in missed deadlines and frustration. To overcome this difficulty, I started adopting time management strategies like making a thorough calendar, establishing priorities, and breaking work down into smaller, more manageable pieces. I became more organized about my obligations over time, which led to increased productivity and decreased stress. Furthermore, many students pursuing careers in the medical field face similarly demanding schedules that make it challenging to meet deadlines. In such cases, they often turn to nursing research paper writing services to ensure the quality and timeliness of their assignments.

Academic Setbacks:

It was demoralizing to experience academic setbacks, such as earning lower grades than expected. I decided to take advantage of these setbacks as chances for improvement rather than giving in to self-doubt. I requested input from my lecturers, made note of my weaknesses, and put focused study techniques into practice. I was able to improve my academic performance and regain my confidence by persevering and being willing to learn from my failures.

Language Barrier:

Navigating English as a second language introduced a unique set of challenges, especially in terms of effective communication and the completion of writing assignments. In essays and presentations, I often encountered hurdles in articulating my thoughts coherently and concisely. To overcome this hurdle, I actively expanded my vocabulary, engaged in consistent reading and writing exercises, and actively sought input from peers and professors. Furthermore, this drive to enhance my linguistic abilities not only improved my communication skills but also bolstered my confidence in expressing myself in academic and professional settings. My determination to conquer these language-related challenges demonstrates my commitment to growth and adaptability, qualities that I believe would make me a strong candidate for the Harvard Scholarship Essay .

Dynamics of Group Projects:

Due to the various work habits, schedules, and perspectives held by the group members, collaborative projects have occasionally proven to be difficult. I adopted efficient communication techniques, such as active listening and open discussion, to handle these circumstances. By praising each team member’s abilities and accomplishments, I helped to create a more effective and pleasant working atmosphere.

Personal Well-Being and Health:

It can be difficult to maintain a good balance between your personal needs and your academic obligations. I have occasionally overlooked my needs, which has resulted in burnout and a decline in drive. I gave exercise, wholesome eating, and regular breaks top priority since I understood how important self-care was. This all-encompassing strategy not only increased my general well-being but also sharpened my attention and increased my output. These examples collectively constitute my challenges in life as a student essay. They serve as valuable lessons that offer insights on how to navigate and overcome various situations.

How to Revise and Improve Your Essay

For instance, if you are given a topic such as “Essay on Environmental Problems and Their Solutions” and you’re not well-versed in it, it’s advisable to invest time in research. This will enable you to create quality content for your essay. After writing your personal challenge essay, it’s essential to engage in the editing and revision process. Ensure that your essay flows logically and that your ideas are well-organized. Edit for clarity, grammar, and punctuation. If you’re seeking a comprehensive perspective, consider seeking feedback from peers, professors, or mentors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Final thoughts.

Writing a personal challenge essay offers you the chance to share your unique journey and inspire others through your resilience and progress you can create an engaging tale that engrosses your readers by choosing a pertinent challenge, using a solid essay structure, and remaining honest. It’s crucial to remember that your essay about a personal issue demonstrates both your capacity for self-reflection and personal development in addition to your capacity for overcoming challenges. For those who face challenges in managing their academic tasks, there are online homework writing services available that can provide valuable assistance and support.

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1.2 Your Academic Journey and Personal Story

Questions to Consider:

  • How can your academic journey develop skills needed for college success?
  • How can your personal story prepare you for applying to college?

Your Academic Journey

Now that you have a better understanding of what college can do for you, it is time to focus on how high school is preparing you for college, or better yet, how you can prepare yourself in high school to become college ready. It is clear that what you do (or don’t do) in high school can affect your ability to get into the colleges of your choice, but there is more to preparing yourself than just earning a high GPA or class rank. Your high school education can provide you with ample opportunity to help you hone your academic skills.

Take Difficult Courses

Any student who is serious about applying to college should consider taking challenging classes while in high school. Why? Because those classes can help lay a foundation of high expectations and hard work and they are often highly regarded by college admissions counselors. These classes are sometimes called Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or honors/advanced classes. If you are considering taking such courses, talk to your guidance counselor or current teachers. They may be able to offer suggestions for how to get selected (if there is an application process) and give you a realistic picture of what will be expected. There is no need to take all AP, IB, or advanced classes to prove you are ready for college, but taking a few can provide a college admissions committee evidence that you are open to challenge.

Manage Time and Tasks

If there is one skill that you can develop now that will help you throughout your college career, it is the ability to manage your time and complete tasks. If you already use a planner to track what you need to do and when it is due , then you are on the right track. You can enhance these skills by setting reminders for yourself—and not relying on teachers or parents to tell you when to complete or submit an assignment. The most important part of managing your time and tasks effectively is to build in time well before something is due to complete the work and to overestimate (at least initially) how long you need, which can provide time “buffers” that will keep you from rushing through work to finish it.

Learn to Learn

Earlier, you were introduced to the argument that the purpose of college is to become a learner. You don’t have to wait until college, though, to figure out how best to learn different subject matters. This is one reason you should consider taking challenging classes–they require that you put more time and effort in them to learn the material. And those skills will make transitioning to college much easier. How can you “learn to learn”? You may have little control over what you are learning and how you are tested, but you can control how you approach the learning. One way to learn how to learn is to space out your learning over time (as best as you can—sometimes teachers like to give you a pop quiz when you least expect it!). Reviewing a bit of material for a short amount of time over several days (as opposed to cramming it in right before a test) produces better results. Another way to learn how to learn is to monitor how well your learning strategies work. Did you do well on a test? Take some time to reflect on what you did that resulted in a good grade. Did you space out your studying? Did you look for connections in the material? Likewise, if you do poorly on a test, determine what led to the result. The more you can identify what works and doesn’t for you, the easier it is to make improvements in your learning strategies.

Demonstrate Integrity and Ownership of Learning

Being a high school student often means having a lot on your plate. It can be easy to put off homework and studying, not do it at all, or cut corners to complete the work. While you may be able to get away with some stumbles like forgetting to turn in an assignment, other behaviors, such as getting someone (including Artificial Intelligence software) to do your homework or write a paper for you can get you into trouble. Now is the time to build the skills you will need later in college. Taking full responsibility for your learning as well as demonstrating integrity in all assignments no matter how big or small are the foundation of those skills. How do you do this? For one, you acknowledge that every action or inaction will produce a result. If you put in the work to write the paper, you will earn the grade you receive. If you do not put in the work or find a way to shortcut the process by using someone else’s writing, then you have missed an opportunity to improve your writing, your thinking, and your project management skills. Plus, you may get into trouble for academic dishonesty, which could mean failing an assignment or a course, or getting a more substantial punishment, such as expulsion. The stakes only get higher when you are in college.

Keep Test Scores in Perspective

You will learn more about standardized test scores and their purpose for getting into college later in this chapter, but it is worth noting that while what you make on the ACT, SAT, or equivalent standardized test, may factor into your ability to get into and pay for the college of your dreams, it is not necessarily a reflection of who you are and what you are capable of. Definitely do all you can to raise your test scores through practicing, prepping, and doing your best on the day of the test. But do not assume that a low test score will be the end of your long-term goals or educational journey. They are just one piece of information by which an institution may evaluate your potential, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that tells who you are.

Your Personal Story

Just as important as your academic journey is your personal story. You will need to develop and reflect on both for your applications to college and scholarships. Those who read about you will want to know not only about your accomplishments, but also your challenges and how you have overcome them.

What Makes You Unique

It may seem cliché to say “There is only one you!” But there is some truth in the fact that you are unique—there is no one else like you. To that end, you may want to draw upon those unique characteristics as you begin to shape the story that you will share with college admissions staff and scholarship committees. Will you be the first in your family to go to college? Do you live on a working farm and feed the goats, cows, and horses every morning before school? Can you ride a unicycle or juggle or both? There may be both personal characteristics as well as experiences that make you stand out from others, and if there are, consider weaving these details into the tapestry of your story. Start by making a list of your characteristics—no trait is too small or typical at this point. You can eliminate items later when you start building your story, but for now, create the list and add to it as you think of new things that you are or can do.

Getting Gritty

Many college essay prompts include an opportunity to share a time in your life in which you faced adversity and overcame it. For some students, this prompt is difficult for they have either not experienced a life-changing setback or not considered themselves challenged. It is important to remember that any setback or disappointment—no matter how inconsequential it may seem to you—can be the basis for an essay that responds to such a prompt. There is no need to embellish the circumstance if it is truly not harrowing, but it is acceptable to frame the experience as something that was difficult for you. Most readers of essays are less looking for a made-for-Hollywood story and more wanting to see someone who has demonstrated tenacity, resilience, and reflection no matter how big or small the adversity is. Even if you are not required to write an essay on a time in your life in which you failed or experienced disappointment, having a story handy for interviews (for scholarships, internships, or jobs) can help you share insight into your personality and strengths in a succinct way.

Finding the Themes of Your Life

In Katharine Brooks’ (2010) book You Majored in What? 3 she shares a writing and reflecting activity called “Wandering Pathways and Butterfly Moments” that guides readers through a series of prompts to develop a list of life experiences for the purpose of discovering what career pathway may be most fruitful for them to pursue. These life experiences could be as monumental as moving to a new state and starting a new school or they can be as mundane as spending the summers fishing. The goal of the exercise is to record what you have done or what has happened to you to get a sense of a “story.” These stories are built upon the connections and themes that you see in the experiences. Here are some of the life experiences Brooks wants you to consider when you are crafting your personal story.

  • What have you done during the summer or holiday breaks from school?
  • What did you play when you were a young child?
  • What are some of your major life experiences (e.g. family events such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces)?
  • What do people say you do well or have a talent for or seek you out for?
  • What do you consider your greatest achievements?
  • What jobs have you had?
  • What groups have you belonged to?
  • What awards have you won?
  • What lessons have you learned?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • What kind of “secret” talent do you have?

The goal of answering the questions is to capture as much about who you are and how you have been shaped to develop clear connections among the life elements and create themes. These themes can drive your personal story that can share on a deeper level who you are or who you are becoming.

Consider this scenario: Raphael has taken the time to write down his life experiences so he can build his personal narrative. Some of the answers to the questions above include the following:

  • Raphael’s jobs: lifeguard, babysitter for his nieces and nephews, tutor, art teacher for elementary students
  • Raphael’s hobbies and interests: watching old movies, volunteering at the library, creating original jewelry from natural objects
  • Raphael’s awards and accolades: he won a writing contest in 11th grade, his friends come to him for advice, he has earned high grades in all of his classes
  • Raphael’s major life events: parents divorced when he was 6 years old, he started a new school in junior high, his aunt passed away when he was 14 years old

From this short list, Raphael can begin to draw out themes that he can use to create a detailed picture of who he is. He has found himself in teaching roles with his jobs. He has a love for the arts as evidenced by his hobbies. He is a good communicator evidenced by his awards and accolades, and relationships are an important part of his life. Raphael can use those themes—and details from his experiences—to craft his story as someone who has demonstrated an interest in connecting with and helping others by sharing his expertise and experience.

Recognizing the themes in your life helps you to describe how you've become the person you are now, and helps you to understand who you will become.

"For me, becoming isn't about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn't end" —former First Lady Michelle Obama , Becoming (2018)

Analysis Question

In what ways is your academic journey in high school shaping your personal narrative? Describe how the following experiences are helping you “become":

  • The classes that you are taking
  • The activities you participate in as part of school (e.g., sports, performing arts, etc.)
  • The learning that you are doing outside of school (e.g., community language class)

In what ways are your personal experiences shaping your story? Describe how the following experiences are helping you “become”:

  • Major life events
  • Favorite activities
  • Awards and accomplishments
  • Jobs or volunteer work
  • 3 Brooks, K.(2010). You majored in what? Plume.

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  • Authors: Amy Baldwin
  • Publisher/website: OpenStax
  • Book title: Preparing for College Success
  • Publication date: Jul 12, 2023
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/preparing-for-college-success/pages/1-introduction
  • Section URL: https://openstax.org/books/preparing-for-college-success/pages/1-2-your-academic-journey-and-personal-story

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Experiencing hardship and adversity

The role of resilience in times of crisis, building resilience tip 1: practice acceptance, tip 2: reach out to others, tip 3: invest in self-care, tip 4: look for meaning and purpose, tip 5: stay motivated, surviving tough times by building resilience.

Whether you’re facing a global or personal crisis—or a mix of both—building resilience can help you cope with stress, overcome adversity, and enjoy the better days to come.

a difficult journey essay

Lately, the world seems to be lurching from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, dramatic changes to how we conduct our daily lives, economic uncertainty, and political and social turmoil, as well as an array of natural disasters. Then there are personal traumas that people are also dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, declining health, unemployment, divorce, violent crime, or tragic accidents. For many us, this is a time of unprecedented struggle and upheaval.

Whether the source of disruption in your life is a global emergency or a personal tragedy—or both—living through difficult times can take a heavy toll on your mood, health, and outlook. It can leave you feeling helpless and overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. You may be painfully grieving all that you’ve lost, flooded by a slew of difficult, conflicting emotions, or uncertain about how to move on with your life. You may even feel that your life is totally out of control and you’re powerless to affect whatever may happen next.

While there’s no way to avoid sorrow, adversity, or distress in life, there are ways to help smooth the rough waters and regain a sense of control. Resilience is the ability to cope with the loss, change, and trauma that have been inevitable parts of life even before these extraordinary times. Building resilience can help you better adapt to life-changing events, cope with turbulent times, and bounce back from hardship and tragedy.

Why do some people seem to be better able to cope in these troubling times than others? While everyone’s situation is different, it is true that people with resilience tend to have a higher tolerance for the emotional distress generated by hard times. The more resilient you are, the better you’re able to tolerate the feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness that accompany trauma and adversity—and find a way to rebound from setbacks.

[Read: How to Cope with Traumatic Events]

We all go through bad times, we all experience disappointment, loss, and change, and we all feel sad, anxious, and stressed at various times in our lives. But building resilience can help you to maintain a positive outlook, face an uncertain future with less fear, and get through even the darkest days.

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Building resilience

If you’re more sensitive to emotional distress and are finding it difficult to cope with hardship or adversity, it’s important not to think of it as some kind of character flaw. Resilience isn’t a macho quality and it isn’t fixed; it’s an ongoing process that requires effort to build and maintain over time.

Unless you’ve faced adversity in your life before, it’s unlikely you’ve had the need or opportunity to develop resilience. Drawing on past experiences can help you cope with the challenges you’re facing today. Even if you’ve struggled to cope with adversity in the past, you may at least be able to recognize some of the ways of coping that DON’T help, such as trying to numb your feelings with drugs or alcohol .

While it’s often difficult to imagine anything good coming out of traumatic experiences, building resilience can help you find any positives in the difficulties you’ve faced. Surviving hardships can teach you important things about yourself and the world around you, strengthen your resolve, deepen your empathy, and in time enable you to evolve and grow as a human being.

Building resilience can also help you to:

  • Stay focused, flexible, and productive, in both good and bad times.
  • Feel less afraid of new experiences or an uncertain future.
  • Manage and tolerate strong emotions outside your comfort zone, even those you’d rather avoid like anger or despair.
  • Strengthen your relationships and improve your communication skills, especially under pressure.
  • Bolster your self-esteem.
  • Be confident you’ll eventually find a solution to a problem, even when one isn’t immediately apparent.

You can develop and improve these qualities of resilience at any time, regardless of your age, background, or circumstances. The following tips can help you face hardships with more confidence, better cope with these tumultuous times, and make it through to the brighter, more hopeful days ahead.

While we all react to stressful events in different ways, many of us try to protect ourselves by refusing to accept the truth of what’s happening. After all, by denying that you’re even experiencing a crisis, you can kid yourself that you still have some sense of control over what are usually uncontrollable events.

While denial can have some positive functions—it can give you an opportunity to come to terms with the shock of a traumatic event, for example—over time, it will just prolong your pain. Staying in denial will prevent you from adapting to your new circumstances, stop you from seeking solutions or taking action, and stifle the healing process.

Accept the situation

Change is an inevitable part of life and many aspects of the changing world are outside your individual control. You can’t control the spread of a virus, for example, the pace of social change, or how the economy behaves. While it can be tough to acknowledge, railing against events or circumstances outside your control will only drain you of energy and leave you feeling anxious and hopeless. Accepting your situation, on the other hand, can free you up to devote your energy to the things that you do have control over.

Focus on things within your control. Make a list of all the things you can’t control and give yourself permission to stop worrying about them . Instead, focus on the action that you can take. If you’re unemployed, you can’t control whether the ideal job appears in the wants ads or whether an employer will grant you an interview. But you can control how much time and effort you put into searching for work or brushing up on your skills. Similarly, if a loved one is facing a life-threatening illness, you may have to relinquish control to the medical experts, but you can still focus on providing your loved one with as much emotional support as possible.

Accept change by looking to your past. Looking back at examples where you’ve coped with uncertainty and change before can help you accept your current situation. Perhaps you suffered a painful breakup in the past and were eventually able to move on with your life, or you lost a job and ended up finding a better one? Examining your past successes can also help you see past the current crisis and derive some confidence that you’ll be able to pull through again.

Accept your feelings

It’s tempting to believe that the best way to get through hard times is by ignoring painful emotions and “putting on a brave face”. But unpleasant emotions exist whether you choose to acknowledge them or not. Trying to prevent your emotions from surfacing will only fuel your stress, delay acceptance of your new situation, and prevent you from moving on.

By allowing yourself to feel your emotions, you’ll find that even the most intense, upsetting feelings will pass, the trauma of these tough times will start to fade, and you’ll be able to find a path forward. Talk to someone you trust about what you’re experiencing or use HelpGuide’s Emotional Intelligence Toolkit to reconnect with your emotions.

Grieve your losses

Undergoing tough times usually involves some kind of loss. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the loss of your old life, it’s important you allow yourself the opportunity to grieve. Only by facing your grief —acknowledging and mourning your losses—will you be able to heal and eventually move on with your life.

Connecting with friends and family when you’re going through tough times can help ease stress, boost your mood, and make sense of all the change and disruption . Instead of feeling like you’re facing your problems alone, you can draw strength and build resilience from having others to lean on.

The people you reach out to don’t need to have answers to the problems you’re facing; they just need to be willing to listen to you without judging. In fact, what you talk about or the words used are often unimportant. It’s the human connection—eye contact, a smile, or a hug—that can make all the difference to how you’re feeling.

Prioritize relationships . Nothing carries the same health benefits as connecting face-to-face with someone who is caring and empathetic. These days, however, it’s not always possible to see friends and loved ones in person. If you’re kept apart by geography, lockdown, or travel restrictions, for example, reach out to others via phone, video chat, or social media.

Don’t withdraw in tough times. You may be inclined to retreat into your shell when you’re facing challenges in your life. You may fear being a burden to friends and loved ones or feel too exhausted to reach out. But try to keep up with social activities even when you don’t feel like it. Good friends won’t consider you a burden—they’re more likely to feel flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them.

Try to avoid negative people. Some friends are good listeners, kind and empathetic. Others seem to only fuel negative emotions, leaving you feeling even more stressed, anxious, or panicky. Try to avoid anyone who magnifies your problems, criticizes, or makes you feel judged.

Expand your social network. Even though relationships are vital for good mental health , building resilience, and getting through tough times, many of us feel that we don’t have anyone to turn to in times of need. But there are plenty of ways to build new friendships and improve your support network. If you know others who are lonely or isolated, be the one to take the initiative and reach out.

Living through tough times can be both mentally and physically draining. Constantly being in a heightened state of stress can lead to serious health problems, impact your immune and digestive systems, increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and lead to burnout , a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion.

Since the body and mind are so closely linked, investing in self-care is an important part of building resilience and getting through times of great stress. When your body feels strong and healthy so, too, will your mind.

Get enough exercise. When you’re dealing with chronic stress, you likely carry it somewhere in your body. Maybe your muscles are tense, you have back or neck pain, frequent headaches, insomnia, heartburn, or an upset stomach? Getting regular exercise not only releases powerful endorphins in the brain to improve your mood, but it can also help to ease tension in the body and counteract the physical symptoms of stress.

Practice a “mind and body” relaxation technique. Practices such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation blend deep breathing and body awareness to help you relieve stress and bring your nervous system back into balance. Try one of HelpGuide’s audio meditations to boost your physical and emotional well-being.

[Listen: Inner Strength Meditation]

Improve your sleep. When you’re facing adversity, nothing wears down your resilience like missing out on a good night’s sleep. Often, improving your daytime habits and taking the time to relax and unwind before bed can help you sleep better at night .

Eat well. There are no specific foods that can help build resilience and weather tough times. Rather, it’s your overall dietary pattern that’s important. Eating lots of processed and takeout food can take a toll on your brain and mood, sapping your energy, and weakening your immune system. A healthy diet , on the other hand—one that’s low in sugar and rich in healthy fats—can give you the energy and focus to tackle the challenges you’re facing.

Manage your overall stress levels . Taking steps to manage your overall stress can break the hold it has over your life, improve your mood, and help you build the resilience you need to hold up under pressure at this time.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by frightening headlines or consumed by the crisis you’re facing. But whatever your circumstances, it doesn’t have to define you as a person. You are not your crisis. By pursuing activities that bring purpose and meaning to your life, you can keep your problems in perspective, prevent them from overwhelming you, and maintain your identity.

Everyone is different so we all have different ways of experiencing purpose and meaning. Don’t limit yourself by others’ expectations; pursue activities that are important to you and add satisfaction to your life.

Give help to others. When you’re in the midst of a crisis, it’s common to feel powerless and helpless. By proactively helping others, you can regain a sense of control as well as find purpose in your life. In fact, giving support can be just as beneficial as receiving support. Try volunteering , helping others in your neighborhood, giving blood, donating to a charity, or marching for a cause that’s important to you.

Pursue your hobbies and interests. In turbulent times, it’s important not to cast aside interests that nourish your spirit. For many of us, it’s these things that define us as individuals and bring meaning to our lives. Whether it’s playing a sport, caring for a pet , an artistic or musical endeavor, home improvement projects, or spending time in nature, continuing to draw pleasure from your pastimes adds to your ability to cope with the stress of difficult times.

An important part of coping with adversity and making it through tough times is to foster qualities of persistence and endurance. Tough times don’t last forever, but by their very nature they’re rarely over quickly. As you plot a road through the darkness, you need to find ways to stay motivated and persevere.

Deal with your problems one step at a time. If a problem is too big to deal with all at once, try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps. If your problem seems to have no possible solution, you can still take action by drawing up a list, researching more about the subject, or seeking the advice of a trusted friend or loved one.

Celebrate small wins. To stay motivated and positive as you navigate stormy seas in life, take a moment to savor your small successes. If you’re looking for work, for example, getting an interview isn’t as meaningful as landing a job, but it’s a sign of progress, a step in the right direction. Noting these small wins can give you a welcome break from all the stress and negativity you’re facing and encourage you to keep going.

[Read: Finding Joy During Difficult Times]

Try to maintain a hopeful outlook. While it’s difficult to stay positive and hopeful in the midst of a crisis, many of us tend to blow our problems out of proportion and make them seem even more negative than they really are. Try taking a step back and examining your situation as an outsider. Are their rays of hope that you can focus on? Instead of worrying about what you fear may happen, try visualizing what you’d like to happen instead.

Express gratitude. It may sound trite, but even when you’re experience terrible times, it’s usually possible to find one thing you can be grateful about—the love of a pet, for example, a beautiful sunset, or a caring friend. Taking a moment to acknowledge your gratitude for such small things can provide respite from the stress and really boost your mood.

Be kind to yourself. Everyone adjusts to change and upheaval differently. Don’t criticize your coping skills or beat yourself up for every mistake you make. Self-compassion is an important part of building resilience, so go easy on yourself.

More Information

  • Building your resilience - A roadmap for adapting to life-changing situations. (American Psychological Association)
  • Tolerating Distress - Tools to help you face your feelings during difficult times. (Centre for Clinical Interventions)
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Describing a difficult journey

Describing a difficult journey

Students write about a challenging journey, using a choice of four images as a prompt, or their own imagination. The images feature escape from oppression, white-water rafting, physical training and a polar expedition. 

There is also a word bank to support students' vocabulary choices.

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