Sunday, January 13, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Forge Meaning and Build Identity

I was looking for an inspiring TED Talk today and came across an old favorite of mine, How the Worst Moments in Our Lives Make Us Who We Are by Andrew Solomon. He is an amazing speaker, and every time I hear him, in a TED Talk or on a podcast, I am moved and find myself trying to write down some of the bits of truth he says. In fact, I think I posted this same TED Talk on the blog before, but it was five years ago, and the link no longer works, so I thought it was worth revisiting.

In this moving, funny, inspirational talk, Solomon explains how we can find meaning in our lives through adversity. In the second half, he talks mainly about his own struggles as a gay man (and earlier, as a bullied child), but he also talks about people who've been imprisoned, parents with disabled children, and other types of adversity as well. His main message, which certainly applies to life with chronic illness, is that through the worst things we endure in life, we can forge meaning and build identity. I love that phrase and end up jotting it down every time I hear him speak! He also says, "You can forge meaning and build identity and still be mad as hell," and talks about how oppression builds the power to oppose it.

Listen for yourself - even though I have heard this exact talk at least twice before, the ending still brings (happy) tears to my eyes:

I hope you find Solomon as inspiring as I always do.

He has also written several books (which I want to read!), including The Noonday Demon, on depression (which won the National Book Award); Far From the Tree, on parenting; and Far and Away, about how travel can change the world.

Have a wonderful week!


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