What in your life would you say were the determining factors of making you who you are today?

As far back as I remember, I have embodied an ultra-feminine style (which translates into the fact that I have accrued mounds and mounds of lace and pearls). No one could argue that these accessories are fitting complements to my personality. But the creation of the pearl inspires me as much as it accents my outfit.

I can reflect back on my life and wonder if I would be half the woman I am today if not for the “grit” that infiltrated my life early on.

You can probably relate to having similar challenges in your life. And it doesn’t always have to be something major. If you take the example of the evolution of the pearl, even a minor irritation can be the catalyst for this beautiful jewel.

As the irritation is addressed layer upon layer begins to form beautifully.

This is the growth stage.

I have encountered several pearls whose lives have been interrupted at this stage. They are a little awkward or misshapen and bumpy at the very least. Others are not as attractive without the painstaking time being applied to smooth off their rough edges.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of natural saltwater or abalone pearls. Their soft curves and irregular shapes actually lend themselves to their unique beauty. Sometimes the uniqueness of the pearls adds more value and desire than a matched set.

If you were to reflect on your life to this point, would you be able to pinpoint the grittiness that has shaped you over the years? Now can you identify the characteristics that have been developed because of these circumstances that make you uniquely you?

The hardest part for most of us is recognizing the value that these times of “irritation” have contributed to our lives.

I want to challenge you to try a little exercise now: Ask 5 friends or family members to list your top three strengths.

I could ask you to list them, but most people have a difficult time recognizing their own strengths but could write a paragraph on their weaknesses.

As you accumulate the list, notice repetition and similarities in them.

Secondly, make notes beside them as you recount how these strengths in your life were formed or nurtured. For example, you may have been born with a strong will, but how was that formed into leadership? I came into the world as an optimist but watching so many young people beat down around me, I grew into an encourager.

If you are still unable to see the beauty that was formed through the trying times of your life, maybe this is a good time to reflect on what beauty could evolve from them.

I have recognized such great advocates rise out of adversity that even the most horrific trials have been turned into the greatest army of changemakers!

Cancer survivors become warriors, survivors of human trafficking become leaders, victims of violent crimes become spokesmen, and together, they all work to raise awareness for those still unaffected.

Most of us wait until we are affected to act. Others fight for the change.

The most resilient will grow into a beautiful treasure that adds value to the world around them.

Whether you grow through adversity or join the fight because of awareness and intentionally become a cultured pearl, recognizing that something beautiful can be born out of adversity is the greatest response you can have.

Cherish this new perspective of becoming through adversity and celebrate the definition of you!