I have been laying here this past week, recovering from sinus surgery, with multiple thoughts whirling throughout my mind. I find myself a bit more irritable and frustrated than normal, trying to deal with situations and not being able to get out of bed without a major pounding in my head.
Growing up the oldest of five siblings, I have become accustomed to being the mother hen of the bunch. I think it’s just a natural trait you acquire, and it’s (sometimes annoyingly) difficult to ignore.
Having a sister going through her teenage years, as we all probably remember, is a challenge as well. The other day I was sitting in the recliner trying to take a nap when my sister kept calling me. Cranky and on edge, I answered the phone a bit short in tone.
She has been dealing with some high school struggles and I felt like I did not have the energy to handle it right then and there.
Am I a bad person for just wanting to say “get over it?” For thinking how silly those problems feel compared to the unceasing, throbbing pain I am in this very moment? Thinking about how I am missing work, school, and all of my plans for the next week and have my own piles of stress?
I had a short conversation and told her that it would all work itself out.
This is supposed to be my time to just be still, to recover. Why can’t I just have some peace and quiet as I try to get a shred of relaxation?
I hung up the phone with a lingering feeling of guilt. She’s your sister, come on. And so I began to reflect on my selfish thoughts and have been trying to put them into words, as I believe this is a problem many of us struggle with throughout our lives.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind, always.”
I know that at some point in your life you have heard this, read this, or maybe even said this phrase before. It makes complete sense, but yet we struggle to act on its pure meaning.
Some of us may have been dealt a tougher hand than others. The battles we have faced seem to amount to more than just your “everyday problems.”
Stressing about what major to choose in college, or getting fired from a job seem so petty and insignificant. One can sometimes only wish that’s what they were having to deal with.
But that’s when we all need to take the step back and realize, what seems like a bump in the road in comparison to your life may be someone else’s toughest mountain they’ve ever had to climb.
Who are we to say how hard something is for somebody else, or what it is like each and every day in that person’s shoes?
The battle is different for me than it is for you, but it is still a battle. Never put off someone’s hardships because you think it’s too small to deal with. What if they’re at the tip of their iceberg and your disregard pushed them over the edge?
Thinking about this made my heart hurt for pushing my sister away. At the age of sixteen, girls can be mean. Getting your heart broken can be really, really hard. Yeah, at twenty-three high school problems sound silly, but for her that’s her world. So I put myself in her shoes and realized how delicate her heart is. And I reminded myself:
We are all delicate in different doses.
I sometimes find myself concealing my problems with my anxiety in fear I may sound silly to someone. “That’s something you worry about?” “You get anxiety from just sitting in class?”
But then I think, why do I have to be so tough all the time? Why can’t I be vulnerable and let someone know that this easy task is really difficult for me?
Society gives off the impression that with toughness and pride, comes success and power. That weakness is not okay and feelings are silly. So we shield ourselves. That is what puts up this notion that you should only sympathize for someone who has dealt with a true tragedy.
But in all reality, we should soften our hearts a bit more. We should let the person next to us cry on our shoulder if work was just too overwhelming for them today, or they feel a bit lost in their life.
Don’t get me wrong – I do believe there is a difference between being vulnerable and overly abusing someone’s attention to complain. I do believe sometimes people cry wolf. But don’t always assume they’re being over sensitive.
In the same way, I also believe that strength and toughness are not always terrible things, but with vulnerability you will find a true strength. You learn how to persevere, and that is one of the best gifts you give yourself.
So next time your friend calls to complain about this same problem they’ve been struggling with for the past week – be all ears. Put yourself in their shoes and embrace their delicacy.
After all, aren’t the most delicate flowers always the most beautiful ones?