I had a conversation with a group of friends the other day about a struggle one was having with infertility. One of the things we talked about was how alone she felt. How nobody really talks about the struggle and how difficult it is. This led us to talking about another who experienced post-partum depression. I, of course, talked about the joys menopause. All female struggles, but significant in their own right.
The conversation wasn’t one of complaining, but of acknowledgement that nearly every one of us has “stuff.” And while we’re a small slice of the population, I believe we’re fairly representative. People going through life looking normal on the outside (whatever that is), but who have stuff. But we don’t talk about it…and sometimes we need to. Believing that we have shared stories, shared aspects of our lives, creates a feeling of belonging, which we all desire, whether we admit it or not. Lone wolfs are may be that way by choice, but I believe that choice may be the result of hurt and fear from past experiences exposing themselves to others. Or of pain from what happened when they were open and vulnerable.
So why do we hide our struggles? Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to be seen as complaining. Seeking mutual support isn’t complaining, it’s human. We are designed to come together and support each other. Staying silent, alone…we’re not meant to live that way. When we’re isolated that’s when struggle really begins. We feel alone when in fact there are others, likely others within our own peer group, who are faced with the same thing. And whatever we’re feeling is more difficult alone.
When we are open about what we’re going through, when we take that step, and connect with people who are like us, it normalizes our struggle. It helps us to see that we’re not alone. We’re part of a larger community, one who helps us with what we’re going through. It can be scary to take that step, but it’s no critical, and so worth it.
So at this time of year when we come together with family, think about who you need to come together with to share those hidden areas of your life. Yep, I get that could be the scary step, it involves exposing yourself to someone else. But the reward can be so great, like air after holding your breath. Having others to share your struggle won’t make it go away, but it will help you realize you’re not alone.
And you’ll be doing the same for someone else. Someone who equally needs support and who will be thankful for you. In the end, you may find the gift you give someone else through sharing is greater than you could imagine.
It starts with taking the first step. Are in you in? I believe in you and you are not alone. Be brave today.