I’m not going to tell you to be grateful for your hardships because inspite of all of the personal growth to have come from it, I know that you would give it up in a heartbeat. I’m not going to patronise you by suggesting that you will now be so much more compassionate because you always were compassionate and actually for some of the more trivial things you will actually have less tolerance for people’s bitching and complaints.
I won’t tell you that everything happens for a reason because unless we are talking about a circumstance that can be fixed or improved with time or change, it’s just insensitive and plain wrong. Sure there are life events that with 20/20 hindsight, time and a change of circumstance, can proove to have ultimately a beneficial change of course but there are plenty that aren’t. Unless you want to imply that the event is a good thing, just don’t. Whenever people say it to me, all I hear is someone telling me that it’s a good thing that my baby died. Now I’m not stupid, I know that’s not their intention but I wish people would actually play out the implications of their well intended platitudes.
The reality is this: challenges will grow you as a person but only if you are determined to remain undefeated. Only if you want to grow. Only if you see yourself as the protagonist of your own story and not a victim of circumstances. It is not the suffering itself that changes you for the good but how you choose to respond to it. If you are of the view, consciously or unconsciously, that you are powerless to choose the course of your life, then suffering is just painful, brutish and unfair.
Although you understand that there is no hierarchy of personal problems, and rightously lecturing people about perspective and relativism is unhelpful and in a way missing the point, you will find yourself stifling an eyeroll at the next FML Facebook status you read. People’s insessant complaining about the same things, all the time, with no intention of trying to change their circumstances will grate you. Your empathy will wither as you watch them garner sympathy for the same situation from the same people time and time again, as you silently scream “Do something about it!” and feel sick at the fact you never had that opportunity to affect your outcome in the way they could if they just stepped up.
You will be quietly outraged when people congratulate you for “moving on” as you weigh the the pros and cons of explaining how misinformed they are You will have moments where you resent the fact that you will bite your tongue more times than feels fair because people say dumb platitudes as they grasp for ways to “make you feel better” because they lack enough self-awareness to realise that the discomfort they seek to vanquish with their words is in fact their own.
You will wonder on countless occasions how it is you who seems to be shouldering the burdenof staying strong, while others seemingly hover, waiting for you to collapse. You will get good at shrugging off pained looks and mournful inquiries from people who can’t deal with you while you are not an emotional mess. As they continually probe with near whining pitched “Ohhhh are you sure you’re ok” and paw at you, and the need to get away wells up in you. They need you to be broken and they need you to be weak before they can be there for you.
You will have a greater appreciation for those who say what they are thinking and feeling not because they think it’ll fix things but because it is raw and honest. And you’ll be grateful for those who are there for you during your strength and your vulnerability, who don’t need you to be in any particular way before they can engage with you.