Why I’ve Stopped Hiding My Struggles

Written by on September 22, 2018 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments

Image Credit: Tiny Buddha

By Will Aylward | Tiny Buddha

“The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself… that is the moment you might be starting to get it right.” ~Neil Gaiman

The road seemed to go on forever.

Although it was only about 8:30 am, the summer sun was already blazing in the sky, shining down with such intensity I felt like an ant under a merciless magnifying glass.

Seven miles into an eight-mile run and growing more and more tired with each step, I faced the final stretch, along a tarmac path bustling with fellow runners, dog walkers, cyclists, and the occasional rollerblader.

“Not… far… to… go,” I repeated to myself, as I trudged along with all the grace of a baby elephant. As faster and leaner runners passed me, I noticed my mind was slipping into self-comparison-mode, but then I pulled myself back to the present moment.

As I became more present, I observed.

I observed the slight twinge in my left shin and the sound of birdsong from nearby bushes. To my surprise, I observed another more interesting phenomenon, an old pattern I thought I had beaten.

As I passed other people walking, running, cycling, and blading in the opposite direction, I noticed my demeanor changed. I went from running like a baby elephant to galloping like a gazelle, from looking like the newbie runner I am to pretending to be a seasoned professional athlete.

In the brief moments my path crossed with strangers, I hid my struggle.

My posture improved and the grimace on my face turned into a confident smile.

But why?

Why did I feel the need to hide my struggle and present a more I-have-it-all-together version of myself?

I pondered this question for a few days after this intriguing observation. Why do any of us feel the need to appear more together than we are?

The answer I came up with is this…

We hide our struggles because we’ve learned that showing signs of struggle or weakness is a bad thing.

I believe, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In early life, we were more than willing to show signs of struggle. When we were tired, upset, or frustrated, we communicated exactly how we felt (through cries and tantrums). A little bit older, when confused in the classroom, we were more likely to put our hands up and ask for help.

We knew at a young age that struggling was a part of life, and a sign we were soon going to learn something new.

Sadly, as we became older, it became more and more unacceptable to struggle and fail. Teachers and parents became less sympathetic and patient as their expectations increased. We began striving for perfection, which, of course, is unattainable.

To wash away the false idea that showing signs of struggle is a bad thing, we need to remember these three important truths.

1. Struggling is normal.

It seems so darn obvious, but when I’m hiding my struggles, I’m denying the truth that struggling is normal. I’m buying into stories like “I should know better,” “I shouldn’t feel like this,” and “I should look like I have it all together.”

The bottom line is, we’re human, meaning we’re all imperfect and we all struggle. No one has it all together. No one has a perfect life. And no one feels happy, confident, and positive all the time.

Rather than feel ashamed and hide our struggles, we need to recognize that struggles are human and appreciate ourselves for doing our best in any given moment.

2. Unless we show we’re struggling, we’re unable to receive help.

Whenever I pretend I’m not struggling, the door to receive help is closed.

In my early twenties, I went through a hard time. Facing financial struggles, daily anxiety, and dwindling confidence, I felt like I’d fallen down a deep, dark hole. I’d wake each day feeling helpless. But for almost two years, I lived a lie, in complete denial about my life situation. To the outside world, all was well.




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