For some, it's a reality TV series. For others, it's a media-made hero who walked away from tragedy, or a friend who lived through a ravaging illness. But not everyone has FOX, watches the news, or has an inspiring story that begins in a hospital bed.
There is another kind of survivor: yourself.
You don't have to be Lance Armstrong to be a survivor. Just as your picture on the cover of TIME Magazine or a million dollars would alter the course of your life, so can the simple realisation that you are already a survivor. You've come this far, haven't you? Made tough choices, worked hard, maybe uprooted yourself or made a stand in a crowd.
Each day you inhabit the earth with purpose, you survive.
I know many people who belittle their victories. They're afraid to share what they've accomplished, certain they'll be seen as arrogant. While their high school friends are working, they're the ones at college, pretending to like it but feeling alone--yet they will themselves to go to class, focused on the goal. There is the young woman who fought her way out of an emotionally abusive relationship, and later opened herself up to the possibility of a new love.
Why should these types of victories be any less of a success than the "outwit-outplay-outlast" mentality of Survivor? The so-called reality show pits contestants againts each other in a short-term, all-out battle for money and notoriety. Theirs is a battle of strength and wit, but nothing at all like the daily battles we each face. The toughest opponent you will ever know is yourself. And when you fail, it is on your own terms, and you can't vote yourself off the island. You still have to pay your bills, even if it means there is nothing to eat but tuna and apple juice for a week. You still have to go to work, even if you have been demoted unfairly, until you find a new job. You still have to communicate with the outside world, because life doesn't stop while you get yourself together.
If you're a survivor, you will find a way to overcome the things that burden you. Not ignore them, but overcome them, no matter how insignificant they may seem alongside political disasters or grave illnesses. We all bear different burdens, strengthening our spirits in the process. Many of us are quietly surviving, with others unaware of the struggles we face daily. Perhaps we ourselves are unaware of this tenacity we bring to every day. Each of us has a purpose to discover, a quest that tests and fulfills us. Giving yourself over to that purpose, every day, is what makes you a survivor.