Imagine you’re in a room filled with all of your peers. Now, watch as your peers bring in all of their peers, who bring others along with them, and so on. The room quickly becomes packed with your family members, friends, acquaintances, and perfect strangers. Everyone in the room is handed a piece of paper and asked to respond to the following: what is something that you struggle with? Everyone writes something down, folds up their paper, and tosses it into a large pile at the center of the room. That’s a lot of problems, no? So, imagine being asked to randomly pick a piece of paper with a problem written on it. Now, I don’t know about you all, but I’m calling dibs on my own paper.
In a perfect world, none of us would have anything to contribute to this theoretical pile of problems, but that is not reality. Personally, I could have written a few different things on my paper. In high school, I had an eating disorder. After I graduated, my parents got divorced. Now, I continue to battle anxiety and depression. None of these situations are particularly pleasant or enjoyable, but they’re mine nonetheless.
You may be wondering, why would I pick my own paper? Why would I choose to have these issues? Bear with me. No, it’s not because I think I’m better off than the people around me (in fact, sometimes I take on the false impression that I’m the only person in the room who has any problems). I think that struggles are often perceived as being on a severity spectrum. I don’t know if this is entirely true though, because I believe that true pain hurts us all in the same way. We all bleed the same. In that sense, I don’t believe that there is any hierarchy in struggle. So, no I don’t think my problems are any more or less severe than anyone else’s.
I’d pick my own paper because I know my struggles. They are mine to claim. I don’t want anyone else’s paper because I do not know their struggles, so I wouldn’t know how to handle them. Maybe I could walk a mile in your shoes, maybe I couldn’t. So, whatever you’re going through, kudos to you for getting by. Keep it up! You’re doing great!
In addition to being familiar with my own problems, I find them to be of personal value because of the lessons they’ve taught me. The recovery process (anorexia) has taught me how to love and accept myself. My parents’ marriage and ultimately, their divorce, has taught me to not settle for anything less than a loving relationship. I have yet to discover the eventual purpose for my anxiety and depression, but that doesn’t mean that its purpose does not exist. At minimum, I know that I can empathize with others who deal with anxiety and depression. So, I wouldn’t want to give up my struggles, because they are mine and they are valuable to me.
As for your struggles, what purposes do they serve? If you’re not sure, I encourage you to allow time to help figure it out and try to see the greater purpose, because, in my opinion, where there is pain, there is purpose. Sometimes it just takes a while to figure out exactly what that purpose is…and that’s okay! Hang in there friends!
Peace and hugs,