For the past few months, I’ve woken up every day before dawn, said my morning prayer, and thanked God for another day. And immediately, the constant lists of my life—my goals and accomplishments, my faults and flaws and the worries and stresses of my family and friends—would attack my mind. To distract myself, I would try to edit some poems that I’ve been working on, to make them as perfect as possible (to no avail). And it began to dawn on me: Why do so many of us feel the need to force smiles, or be afraid to show our weaknesses, or continue to live in a state of discomfort?
I found that the answer wasn’t easy to swallow. (What answer truly ever is?) Life is already hard, and it has been this way since the beginning of time. It has taken me almost 30 years to realize and come to this type of acceptance. We have grown so accustomed to wanting to appear so strong to the outside world that we continue in our stubbornness to don this façade. Many of us would rather not be a burden to our friends and loved ones, which is okay at times. But in being human, we were never meant to carry life’s heavy loads all on our own. So many of us have been heavily pressed down by life’s circumstances that we begin to think of life as our enemy. But sometimes pain doesn’t just come to hurt us. Sometimes there is a broader lesson. And we must grab a hold of it. This is where that balance of strength and weakness comes into play. Our weaknesses remind us of our humanity, and our strengths are gifts that we were given to help one another.
There isn’t any need for all of the fake smiles and forced laughter. If your shoulders are indeed drooping more than usual, it is okay to admit that. I admit that the weight on my shoulders has been heavy lately.
Each of us lives within a harsh but beautiful reality. And we were never meant to go at it alone. So this year, I want each of us to be more honest about our pain. To grab hold of the responsibility to uplift one another within this increasingly dark world. This year, I promise, no more fake smiles. No more forced laughter. Every single one of us is hurting, and this is both a sad and beautiful truth. We are constantly growing because of the storms. But we do not have to weather them alone.