One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve grown up is that sometimes, if you are quiet, and if you give people the space, then sometimes, they tell you things. Things that they don’t often tell other people. Oftentimes, these things are sad things, or hard things. Experiences that were soul-shatteringly challenging to go through, experiences they will never get over, or experiences that have fundamentally changed them.
Although it may seem self-centered, when I hear these stories, I often think about my life. Why did this person have to go through this experience, when my life has been comparatively struggle free? I mean, there have definitely been challenges for me, but some things that other people go through make my life seem like it’s just been a walk through daisies, my challenges a harmless garden snake in comparison.
And the conclusion that I’ve come to is that it’s ok.
It’s ok to go through hard things, to have gone to hell and back and find yourself changed on the other side. Sometimes things happen and people will never be the same, but those challenges become part of you, they shape the way you look at the world and the way you interact with people.
But it’s also ok to have smaller trials. You don’t have to have the worst horror stories, the most dysfunctional family, or the worst relationships for it to be ok to struggle with things that are hard for you. We’re not in some world-wide competition where only the people who truly are the saddest, loneliest, and most horrendously destitute creatures on the planet are allowed to be sad or upset about things.
You don’t have to throw up every day and be hospitalized before you hit some magical “pain threshold” where suddenly people are allowed to feel bad for you because you are pregnant sick. It’s ok if you weren’t as sick as somebody else, but that it’s still hard for you. The fact that being less sick was still hard for you doesn’t take a single thing away from another individual who was more sick.
It’s ok to sometimes not handle things with a lot of grace. Life is about messing up and trying better next time. Sometimes you shout, sometimes you lose your temper. You don’t have to have the best excuse in the world to justify being wrong, or losing your temper (because it turns out that even the best excuses don’t make it right). But you also don’t need to have some momentous occasion to decide to be different. You can just decide. And even though it’s hard, and even though it seems to take an eternity, you can change.
And it’s ok. Because it’s not only bad people who have horrific things happen to them. It’s not only bad people who have character flaws. It’s just people.
And it’s ok.