Yesterday, I shared thoughts on how difficult the day had been. I received some great feedback in return.

One friend reached out with advice on how to meditate and touch base with your core, another wrote back to support a specific product I’m working on, and a third Facebook friend recommended that I focus on others/my privilege to suggest that seeing the grander picture would force me to belittle my own challenges.


This feedback kicked off a kitchen conversation with Philotographer (an epic portrait photographer in NYC). We spoke about adversity and other adjectives to describe it: struggle and challenges primarily.

Something that grew from that conversation is the diversity in how society recognizes challenges.

The way we define a word in language correlates to how we react to it and treat it in our lives/our community. I recognized clear differences in how people responded to me speaking about the challenges I’d faced.

Turns out Philotographer had faced the same. Here are some of the definitions we came up with, based on our experiences:


  1. ‘struggle’ or ‘challenge’ falls into a large descoped view of the world. People are dying. You have privilege. Not all struggles are equal, but nothing for you can be a struggle.
  2. Challenge is a wall. Run through it. Success is on the other end. Are struggles really struggles or just tests?
  3. Everyone faces adversity. Not all challenges are equal, but all struggles are relevant. Every struggle is important, valid, and must be considered (by the individual).

People respond to you speaking on your challenges based on how they perceive your challenges…


Sometimes this prompts folks to be more vocal in sharing their challenges– I believe this to be the value of safe spaces. Safe spaces: places where one can express him/herself without fear of being judged.

Sometimes this prompts folks to say Man the f*** up– I don’t know if this is the healthiest approach. I know it’s the direction my football coach always steered us. This is consistent in entrepreneurship as well.


Sometimes this prompts folks to say: why do you think you have the right to discuss this at all? You have no right to be unhappy. I don’t think this is healthy. I think that’s what led to the beef that women of color brought up on Twitter earlier this year with #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. The idea that “your problems aren’t bad enough” seems to be a brewing pot.

Our definitions aren’t all-inclusive. Do share other definitions you might apply in describing adversity, challenges, and struggle. It’d also be really cool to hear about situations where you faced adversity, voiced it, and what response you took away from it.

I hope that you find these conversations relatable.


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