To “strive” is to “make great efforts to achieve or obtain something”, or “struggle or fight vigorously” (Google Dictionary).
Striving is a very human thing to do. Everyone does it. We all have dreams. Sometimes we turn them into goals and we start pursuing them. We strive. Maybe you’re striving for a good GPA, or for athletic achievement. Maybe it’s a date with a certain someone. Or maybe you’re thinking more big-picture. You could be striving to graduate on time, to get into grad school, or to move to a different state (because let’s face it, it takes some serious commitment to love Nebraska). Everyone makes great efforts to achieve something.
But let’s talk about the second definition – “to struggle or fight vigorously.” Here we need to zoom out even farther than in our previous examples. Now we’re striving for BIG things. Things like courage. Maybe you want to be braver, or more kind. Maybe we’re striving for things like identity. Most people do. Sometimes they even write blog posts about it (*subtle reference*). Maybe we’re striving for happiness, or better yet, joy. And let’s not forget about things like truth, or religion. We pursue God, truth, and joy, among other things. It’s why we keep learning and wondering about them.
These are some huge and intimidating topics, and our second definition makes striving after them sound a lot less fun. You see, the first definition had a promise at the end. It said we strive “to achieve or obtain something.” That sounds great! I’m down to put in some hard work as long as I get something out of it. I run workouts in order to get faster during my races. I do homework in order to do better on the tests. But this second definition doesn’t have that same promise. We “struggle and fight,” but there’s no guarantee that we’re going to “obtain or achieve” anything. Struggling and fighting is hard, as any wrestler or martial artist could tell you. It takes a lot of energy, and a lot of skill to do well. It’s difficult, messy, and you can get hurt.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop, or even hesitate. We should keep striving to reach our goals. We need to work for that GPA, athletic record, or grad school acceptance letter. On a bigger scale, we need to seek identity, happiness, and truth. It might be frustrating at times. We don’t always know how to chase after these things, and sometimes we fail and seem to take a step backward rather than forward. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we never stop trying. Have you ever read the Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien? It tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who definitely did NOT want to go on an adventure. He agreed to go, though, and faced struggles like trolls, goblins, and even a dragon along the way. When he got to the end of his journey, he had the opportunity to take riches upon riches back home with him, but he hardly took any at all, because he was satisfied with the journey in itself.
Bilbo can serve as our example. We can fight through the difficulty and pain in the second definition. We can “struggle and fight” to pursue joy and truth, just as he fought his way past otherworldly creatures, not knowing if he’d ever reach his goal. Eventually we, like Bilbo, may stumble onto something that makes the whole journey worthwhile. If we do, we can take a little home, even if we don’t, we can be satisfied with our journey.