When people think of hardships, struggles, and pain – their minds will naturally go to the most extreme of these situations. They’ll often envision malnourished children living in slums, cancer patients intaking their last breaths, or the victims of other unfortunate fates.
Rarely will a person think of the heartbroken lover whose emotional hurt is almost palpable and to whom life seems dismal having been stripped of the trust, love, and happiness; rarely will a person think of the struggling dreamer who battles daily to make ends meet while maintaining hope for a better tomorrow; and rarely will a person think of the obese teenager who has no feeling of self-worth and chastises himself constantly for letting his life propel out of control.
The thing about life’s hardships is that every single human being experiences some form of it – that, at some point – renders him both helpless and hopeless no matter how “extreme” it may be. However, the irony lies in the fact that people tend to view problems that aren’t immediately life-threatening as trivial – but only when they aren’t their own.
When it’s not our personal struggle, we’re tempted to expect the utmost strength from others to plow through their hardships. We’re quick to expect others to stop whining, crying, and feeling sorry for themselves, and often have little sympathy for someone feeling pain over something as “trivial” as a broken heart or unemployment.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Everyone goes through that,” is often the generic ‘pick-me-up’ advice from a friend.
So what if someone else has suffered through this? Someone else in the world has also been impoverished, and had cancer, and been through unimaginable pain. Never would an onlooker tell a dying person that someone else has been through that pain before, therefore he shouldn’t feel too upset – so why are people so quick to say this to someone whose struggle is “easier”?
The honest truth is a struggle is a struggle. An “easy” struggle is a paradox that doesn’t exist. And while there are some things completely frivolous to complain about (i.e. you didn’t get that brand new car your parents promised you, etc.), life can really be hard sometimes. Just because you’re not dying doesn’t mean your troubles aren’t hard and should be trivialized by those who can only look in from the outside.
A struggle can especially be unnecessarily intensified when you find that people are unwilling to empathize with your pain, and in turn expect you to be incredibly strong. Depending on their arbitrary scale of how “strong” you should be considering your problem, you can be judged if you don’t match up to expectations. For instance, having a couple of bad days in which your strength and hope wanes may render you as being ‘weak’. But how unfair of a judgment is this! Is it not understandable when a person ridden with hardships falls victim to the pain it brings?
It’s interesting the large discrepancy between being “strong” and “weak” when living through hardships. Those who put on a happy face and show little of their internal pain are admired for their bravado and unbelievable strength. Others are so awed by the perseverance of such people to plow through these battles because, they think, not everyone could be so strong.
Then on the flip side, people tend to look down on people who can’t put on the same brave face; who have a harder time making it through without their knees buckling a little bit. They often show these people less respect, and instead of empathizing, people more commonly pity these “weaklings”. These people, others assume, are feeling sorry for themselves; they’re being negative and they should think about other people who are suffering worse.
So if the strong are commended for their strength and the weak are looked down upon for their lack thereof — is there no such thing as a strong person who reasonably has weak days? A normal person who is reacting to their hardships like an average person might react? Is there no in-between the two extremes?
There is no such thing as an easy struggle and it’s not fair to have expectations of people to plow through them like a warrior. No matter what hardships, it helps no one to tell them that “X number of people are going through that too” and, therefore, indirectly imply that it’s not that big of a deal. Does it make you feel better when someone tells you that?
Furthermore, maybe people shouldn’t be so hard on those who have trouble bucking up to meet their challenges as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. If people who are strong are admirable then those who are weak sometimes are just human. And what’s wrong with that?