The Key to Heaven? Nah, the Key to Thriving

“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.”

Maya Angelou

One of the most commonly asked questions, whether it be used as a conversation starter between two strangers or to show genuine concern after noticing your friend resembles a zombie more so than an actual human being, is a simple one: How are you?

Throughout my life, I’ve been asked this question a lot at different points in my life; however, it was always met with the same response: “I’m surviving.” I never strayed from my go-to response, regardless of how I was feeling, because I thought it was the best response for all situations. Feeling happy? “I’m surviving!” Feeling mediocre? “I’m surviving.” Feeling stressed? “I’m barely surviving.” Feeling sad? “I guess I’m surviving.”

Even though I experienced a lot of highs and lows throughout my life, I encompassed all of the emotions I felt every day with one word: surviving. The more people asked and the more emotions I experienced after stumbling upon new external factors, both positive and negative, the more I realized there should be a better way to describe the growing range of my feelings. I felt like the vagueness and indifference of the word “surviving” wasn’t enough to summarize everything I was feeling and everything I’d been through. Even if it was just one more word to help describe my feelings, I felt like it would make an important distinction from my normal response. So, I scoured my brain, trying to remember all the words I’d learned in the past that I could use to more expressively tell people my own feelings. After a few minutes of racking my brain, I suddenly remembered an old word I had replaced with my overused word, one that I’d never truly thought about the meaning of: thriving.

An amputee’s story of success and his perspective on surviving vs thriving.

“Thriving” was a word that had resonated with me so strongly and felt so much more personal than simply “surviving.” It reminded me of all the difficult challenges I had gone through and, more specifically, of all the things that had helped me overcome them. I was reminded of my gratefulness for everything that has helped me thrive in my environment and the people that have helped me get through each day.


Reading, for one, has been a big comfort and escape in my life when I’m getting extremely stressed or going through a rough patch. When I was younger, I remember reading plenty of fantasy books, such as the Harry Potter series, and getting transported into the elaborate worlds, with entertaining characters, fantastical adventures and unique plotlines. Now, I still enjoy reading fantasy books as much as I did before. I’ve found that transporting myself into the different worlds described in fantasy books gives me a well needed break from my personal struggles. Whenever I come out of my reading session, I’m able to think much more clearly about my own problems with a fresh perspective and without being suffocated by my overwhelming feelings and thoughts. Reading gives me, and many others, a helpful and enjoyable getaway from all of the distress we face in our everyday lives, whether it be at school, a workplace, or in our own homes. Personally, it’s one of the imperative reasons why I am able to successfully thrive and continue moving forward in life.

Watching Shows

Shows have also helped me tremendously in my everyday life, giving me comfort and the energy to help me get through each day. Korean dramas, specifically, were a fairly recent discovery for me but have become a newfound place of energy and an extra dopamine boost every time I watch them. I really enjoy any Korean dramas that are centered around slice of life, lighthearted or inspirational plotlines, like Start-Up. The lengthy episodes filled with meaningful plots, amusing jokes, lovable characters and stunning visuals are a huge source of joy for me. They also allow me important periods of relaxation by myself, something that’s pretty hard to come by with life constantly bustling around us. Through watching and enjoying visual shows, I’m able to recharge my energy on my own and find new motivation by connecting with the inspirational characters on screen, helping me to continue to thrive in my everyday life.


Friends have been one of the most important and influential factors in my life so far, helping me with so many different aspects of my life and encouraging me to continue moving forward. Friends are one of our main support systems in life and also one of our most impactful ones, giving us comfort, support, and companionship, while also helping us improve ourselves as individuals. They help us stay open-minded and teach us valuable lessons in life, even if we don’t ask them to. In both school and at home when I text them, my friends encourage me to become a better person, support me when I’m going through tough or stressful times, and genuinely make life more fun. Friends make all of the bad things in life a lot easier to handle when I feel their support. I wouldn’t have made it this far in life without such a strong support system to fall back on when I need help and plenty of fond memories from my friends, both minor and major, that make my overall life so much more meaningful and fun. My friends and all of their compassion have made thriving in life a lot easier than I thought was possible simply by being there.

When I’m surrounded by all of these things helping to keep me afloat in life, I think they deserve better than to just be considered reasons why I’m “surviving.” They deserve to be called the reasons why I’m thriving.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s