The uncurling of loose tea leaves in hot water as they steep is called, ‘the agony of the leaves’. In fact, one of the most important parts of tea brewing is leaving enough room for the leaves to unfold, so the full flavor comes out. It’s actually amazing and beautiful to watch, if you are so inclined you could make yourself a cup of tea or even watch it on youtube, but the agony of the leaves can also represent an important concept. That concept is that our pain, our misery, our agony is a part of what brings out the best of us. However, it’s also incredibly important. Unsteeped tea is water. Furthermore, without the steeping step, hot water isn’t going to have the medicinal properties most teas have. To be useful, to really get the full capabilities of the tea, it has to undergo a process. Granted, people aren’t leaves.
Like tea leaves, we aren’t going to be the same after placed in hot water; there’s even some famous quote along those lines by Eleanor Rosevelt, “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” However, the romantic side of the analogy can let it slide how much growing hurts. It’s not fun being in hot water. It’s not the ‘mild confusion of the leaves’, its the agony of the leaves. Becoming your full self is miserable. It’s hard to look at a situation and say, “Oh, this is just a challenge to make me my best self!” because in most cases we want to punch the wall and cry and get angry. It comes down to, can you look someone in the eye who is going through something absolutely horrible and say, “this is for the best”? Because it doesn’t seem like it’s for the best. Most of the time it seems unfair, wrong.
However, the beauty of life is that as miserable as it can be, our difficulties teach us things. Everyone hates the rich kids not because they simply have more money, but because they didn’t have to struggle as much and their character wasn’t developed to the extent that poorer kids had to develop to. Maturity and wisdom tend to be associated with older people because older people have had to go through more horrible circumstances. Growing is hard, it hurts, it makes us angry and full of sorrow. Growing is possibly one of the most difficult things you can do. However, at the end, it flavors the tea. It brings out our best qualities, it teaches us parts of ourselves we never even knew about. Even if this sounds ‘fake’, listen anyways. Hold out hope. There are better things to come, at the very least, better things from within.