You Think You Have Problems? Meet 3 Amazing People Who Had It Worse and Prevailed

George J. Ziogas

Image: Sergey Nivens/Adobe Stock

At every turn in life, people find themselves facing obstacles — the mythical “if only it weren’t there” factor — that stands between them and their dreams. Physical, mental, material — if you’ve ever felt that your circumstances are stopping you from achieving your full potential, you should read about these three amazing people who have overcome all three and achieved the kind of success that legends are made of.

How to Overcome a Seemingly Limiting Physical Condition to Become One of TV’s Highest-Paid Stars: Peter Dinklage

When Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones woos women and shreds men to pieces with the power of his words, the viewer forgets that they’re watching a person born with a condition called Dwarfism. They buy the fantasy that he’s as witty, charming and powerful as he’s shown to be.

That’s the power of Peter Dinklage’s acting prowess — one that took a long time to find expression in meaningful roles because he refused to take up the stereotypical parts offered to people of his physical condition — that of elves and leprechauns.

Instead, he believed in his ability to portray the kind of characters he wanted to portray — “the romantic lead who gets the girl”— and went on to prove himself right in his belief.

In addition to the achondroplasia he was born with, he suffered an accident that left him with a scar that runs from his neck to his eyebrow. Neither stopped him from being exactly who he is, doing exactly what he wants and being highly successful in both.

How to Turn Anxiety, Depression and Asperger’s into Dedication to a Cause: Greta Thunberg

11-year-old Greta Thunberg fell into a deep depression after watching a video on the impact of climate change in school. For months, she was unable to talk or even eat properly and her parents had to put their careers on hold to nurse her back to health.

When she was diagnosed with Asperger’s, it was an explanation for her extreme reaction to something her classmates had been only slightly affected by and let go of in a matter of minutes.

The youngest nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize, Greta Thunberg changed what could have been a debilitating condition into her greatest strength. She credits her unflinching devotion to the cause of addressing climate change to her Asperger’s diagnosis.

“If I were like everyone else, I would have continued on and not seen this crisis,” she says. “I wouldn’t be able to sit for hours and read things I am interested in.”

How to Rise from Crippling Poverty to Become the President of the World’s Largest Democracy: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

While World War II was raging across the world, a 10-year-old boy in the Southern tip of India was battling hunger and fatigue in a home with a large family and no electricity.

Juggling school, tuitions and his job as a newspaper delivery boy, he was so hungry one day that he kept eating rotis (flatbread) beyond his usual number without thinking and his mother kept putting more on his plate. After the meal, his brother called him aside and said, “be a responsible son. Don’t make our mother starve.” That’s when the boy realised the extra rotis his mother had served him wordlessly were her own share of the evening meal.

That boy grew up to be a scientist who engineered India’s missile program and went on to become the 11th President of the country. His name was A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Kalam’s legacy continues to live on through his energising talks calling upon youngsters to dream, to persevere and to succeed, unmindful of circumstances and limitations.

Final Thoughts

For every disadvantage you think you have, there’s an opportunity lurking that you lose sight of because you’re so focused on the disadvantage.

Think of life as a long and winding staircase that you need to climb. Every hurdle is a step, the same as every opportunity and even every routine task you need to accomplish.

Once you stop looking at disadvantage as something particularly daunting or impossible, it gets a lot easier to overcome.

And overcome you can, in the same way as these three people exemplify.

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