“I get that life is a test. I understand that, as humans, we grow from our struggles. But, seriously, how many times am I going to have to survive? At what point do I prove that I’m strong enough, yet?”
This is me, complaining. This is me, feeling daily stress. This is me, realizing that I am about to deal with yet another complication in the short scope we call “being human,” in this tumultuous sea we describe as “life.”
“If it isn’t medical problems, it’s job problems. If it isn’t job problems, it’s home problems. Isn’t there a point when we get a break? Not long, but at least a year? Just some sort of break, that’s all I want.”
This is Mr. M, complaining. This is Mr. M, feeling daily stress. This is Mr. M, begging for life to stop, to halt, to give us an exit, a detour, a semblance of calm before we get back on Life’s path.
“I’m done adulting. Can we go back to being teenagers?”
I laugh, because I know this won’t happen. But it isn’t a laugh of carefree jubilation; it’s a laugh of self-deprecation. Life is sick; it’s a twisted compilation of uphill battles–and we’re both getting pretty fed up.
We leave the discussion with heavy hearts, knowing the next few months, and the next year, will serve us with unknowable problems. It’s not something we aren’t familiar with–because every year hands us a monumental serving of crap-on-a-stick, with bananas.
Yes, crap-on-a-stick, with bananas.
It’s a phrase, people. It’s a phrase.
But, here’s the deal: our problems aren’t special. No one is going to walk up to me and say, “Oh, sweet dear, you were bullied in school, almost died from pancreatitis, are a former anorexic, have a difficult ex-husband, are a cripple, and you’re battling another unknown? Let me host you a pity party, blow up balloons, and give you reprieve. You’re special, here’s a cookie.”
Being a strong woman, one who sees life’s mountainous obstacles as an adventure to overcome, I don’t need pity, or a proverbial cookie. I am not a victim of circumstance; I am not a martyr.
But, seriously? Am I alone in this mindset? I know I’m not, but it doesn’t feel that way, lately. If a person who lives in victimized mode shares a struggle with me, and I share a struggle with them in order to demonstrate empathy and hope, the immediate, knee-jerk reaction of the victimized person is to exclaim, “Your problems aren’t as difficult as mine. They don’t count. My issue is real. I’m a victim. You just can’t understand; you will never understand. I am special.”
Are we not all human? Is our anatomy not the same? Do we all not bleed red? Are we not all in this struggle known as life, together? Can we not decide to view mountainous obstacles as adventures to overcome? I, for one, refuse to coddle victimization, lack of moral empathy for all humanity, and the idea of specialness.
This nonsense needs to stop.
There are people in life who view the mountain looming ahead of them, take thirty steps toward overcoming it, and ten realize the difficulty that comes in conquering the mountain. They sit down on the ground, and tell everyone around them to “feel” the struggle of their mountain–the very one they are unwilling to climb. There are people in life who look for mountains other people journeyed, and invest their energy placing these past mountains within events of their life. These people are unwilling to face life, to face the struggles, and to make themselves better for their own, independent battles.
Then there are people who struggle up the mountain, make it halfway, and need help in the last leg of the trek. They meet someone who loses faith at the end of the climb, and walk hand-in-hand to the top, together. And, of course, there are people who look at a mountain dead-on, claw their way up, fight bears, and bleed from open wounds until they reach the top. They conquered their personal demons, and learned to be stronger in the process.
That is life.
Life is about taking the mountains, and growing in strength and character. It is not about looking at someone who is struggling, who is facing mountains, and negating their plight as irrelevant. The difficulties of life are based on perception, therefore degrees of difficulty are imagined.
No one is special. No one’s life is “more” difficult.
The way we were created–our genetics–does not perpetuate victims of circumstance. Our genetic makeup will not denote a person’s life as more complex, more difficult, or more prohibitive than another. Life does that. Life doesn’t care about any of us. It doesn’t dole out special treats when our struggles exceed hope. It doesn’t guarantee the way people will treat us. And, you’d think as humans facing these mountainous obstacles on a chronic basis, we would hold compassion for each other’s battles. But, unless it suits a purpose for furthered victimization, even we don’t care.
Which is funny, because the only thing within our control, as humans, is our behavior toward other people. We can treat other people in a humane way, realizing that every human alive faces battles, and that no one on this planet is special, or deserving of special treatment. However, though we may freely give kindness and humanity, we cannot expect that same treatment in return. We can only hope that they will reciprocate those sentiments back, and treat us with kindness.
The way we are supposed to treat them.
See how that works?
When we realize that nobody’s problems are more difficult, or more exceptional, than anyone else’s, we can begin understanding that life is life. It will never be easy, and we will never be recognized for the mountains we conquer. As soon as we realize that, we understand that the worth of our character is not in the problems we face, but in how we overcome those struggles with dignity, courage, and inner strength.
From our victories we can reach out to others, demonstrating measures of empathy and support. If anything, that is what makes us special. The way we treat others, the love we freely give, and how we see the world, creates a special sense of what it means to be human. Unfortunately, those moments of humanity, those seconds of altruism, are never celebrated with cookies.
But, they should be.