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Why I Believe It's Important to Be Open About Your Struggles

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I’m naturally an optimist. But, despite my positive nature, I have my down days. My moments when I have one too many things going wrong with my body at once and I can no longer handle it. I need to vent. I need to feel sorry for myself. I need to acknowledge my pain. And that’s OK. More than OK. It’s good. It’s necessary.

We live in a society that seems to  promote always appearing happy, perfect and healthy whereas feeling sorry for yourself or feeling despair is labeled a “pity party.” Why? All emotions are necessary. No one is always happy. Everyone has struggles, their own demons they are fighting. What really sucks about this is that we hide our bad days like they are wrong.

With everyone hiding it and showing their life as being some idealized version of a made-for-TV movie, we wind up feeling alone, guilty, embarrassed and ridiculous for feeling sorry for ourselves. For being sad. For not handling every devastating life blow with smiles and appreciation. We feel abnormal. Wrong. So we keep it a secret and deal with it alone. We don’t want to burden anyone.

We wouldn’t want to burden anyone. Oh no. Get the support you badly need from people who love you and would jump to help you? That’s so wrong. So “dramatic” and “needy.” So “weak.” Right?

No! Not right! Ignoring legitimate feelings and suffering needlessly not only hurts yourself, it hurts everyone. Because all of those people who see your life as perfect or see it look like you can handle every trial with grace and strength might now be feeling like they are alone, like they should not feel like this. They might think they should not be so depressed and overwhelmed when their friend is going through trials but is still positive and happy. So they hide it. They share only hearts and smiley faces with the world. Love and rainbows. Perfection. Strength. Perseverance. Which causes their friends to only see the perfection and strength, so they hide their struggles. It’s a vicious cycle that helps no one and can hurt us all.

It’s time to be open. About our happiness and our sorrow. Our excitement and our fear. Our loves and our losses. Our pains and our comforts.

Life is not just about the sunshine and the roses. Nor is it only about the thunder and the lightning. It is all things. We are all things. When you join them together, it makes one complex, cohesive, miraculous world full of life and all its wonders. Weakness can be a strength. Strength can be a weakness.

If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to show it, to reach out and be open. I’ve built some incredible relationships by doing this. By sharing my bad days when I’m so tired of fighting with my own body. When the physical pain is just too much. When I need love, understanding and support. When I need to simply vent and say that life is not fair. Because, let’s face it – life is not always fair. That’s a truth for everyone. When I am open, they become open in return. They shed the secrecy and breathe a sigh of relief. Portraying a perfect facade is exhausting. Being your true self is freeing. Together we help each other be free.

Being raw, vulnerable and real is a gift that continues to keep giving, as it spreads from one person to another,as people grow to see they are not alone in their struggles, there is nothing wrong with them. That it’s normal to feel all emotions. They aren’t alone and they never were.

You aren’t alone. I promise you.

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Thinkstock photo via Tijana87.

Originally published: May 22, 2017
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