A few years ago I set out to do a project about brilliance; being able to shine inside whilst at the same time obtaining results in life. I did not expect the journey to achieving this internal brilliance to be one of stress and tests. It is an ongoing process of course, but one that I am beginning to understand. The choice of the name of the project came from the light found in diamonds; brilliance being the degree to which they shine or ‘the intensity of the white light when a diamond is looked at in the face-up position’. What I was not aware of at the time was how they become like that.

The word diamond comes from Greek, adamas, meaning unbreakable. They are taken from 100 miles beneath the ground. The rock that surrounds them has to be crushed and from there the diamond is cut, shaped and polished. It is a very rough and violent process for the crystal, but it eventually becomes brilliant, reflecting and emitting light. The process also includes high temperature, pressure, cutting, and reshaping. The stone has to be broken to be made into a diamond.

I am now very aware of this process in our lives. I used to think that all I had to do to shine was to be good or to try to emit this light. I was wrong. In order to shine you have to be crushed, put under heat, immense pressure, cut and shaped. Then you become that crystal that shines by itself, without having to try. You become that light that you radiate, it is not something that you force yourself to do. Diamonds are also unbreakable. The strength you gain when you overcome life’s difficulties makes you indestructible. If you can manage to find that inner peace, manage to reconstruct and rebuild your life around what has happened, then nothing can permanently destroy you.

It is all very clear now. I thought I had gone astray, I thought I was lost, but I was just being shaped into who I am supposed to be. Without this test I would not have known how strong I really am. I would not have known how resilient I am. Resilience is the ability of a substance to spring back into shape, or the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

My lack of confidence led me to make mistakes, but without them mistakes I would not have learnt that I had these qualities, and without knowing that I could never have been truly confident. So instead of looking back with confusion, I look back with gratitude. Of course I will always wish that the test was easier, that it didn’t have to break me this hard, but at the same time it could also have been worse. I now have to focus on organising the qualities and lessons learnt and on finally looking towards the future with a new sense of appreciation for life and a new ability to choose its course.