We all struggle

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We all struggle

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It doesn’t matter who we are, what we have, how knowledgeable we are, or where we live; we struggle.

The man with incredible wealth, the man garlanded with success, struggles. He has no time for family or friendships. He works all the time. So he’s lonely. Do people like him for him or his money? Who can he trust? Nobody understands him except those who seek to take advantage of him.

The woman with the perfect career struggles. She has her challenges at work and another round of home work. There’s finding time for herself. It is not easy to do all of them well. Those whom she needs to be understood by cannot understand.

A child is so brilliant he surpasses his peers academically and intellectually. He is different and treated so. He struggles with normality, relationships and purpose. Nobody understands him.

Social media performers display their beautiful faces, perfect bodies, envied lifestyles, wealth, and blase postures struggle. They struggle with not being found out, denigrated or ignored. They struggle with sustainability.

Despite their wealth or ability or both, the struggle of the plenty is not vastly different from those who lack wealth, power, influence or competencies. They struggle with the same essential issues: acceptance, trust, loneliness, self-worth, difference, indifference, a longing to be understood and genuine affection.

The only difference between the struggle of the plenty and the little is the latter is unavoidably apparent.

When not wrestling with our work, we wrestle with ourselves and our relationships. When we have no money, we struggle. When we have a lot, we struggle. When we have no work, we struggle with finances. When we have work, we struggle with maintaining quality.

If we love power, we will struggle to keep it. If we like being right, we struggle when told we are wrong. There is a struggle with lack as there we do with surfeit or sufficiency. Intelligence and technology are no solutions. They bring with them their struggles.

We struggle no matter what.

The nature and quality of our struggles depend on where we are in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is a valuable guide if inaccurate. Each level requires a magnificent struggle to level up. Each level has its challenges to struggle against. We struggle simultaneously at varying intensities at each level we achieve and inhabit.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The struggle is inescapable and unavoidable. Attempting to escape or evade exponentially exacerbates and complicates our struggles. Irretrievably, potentially.

When we attempt to escape or evade, mitosis happens. Now, there is the struggle and the struggle to avoid the struggle. The more we evade, the more struggles we create.

Because we are all struggling, do not be fooled by demeanours of normalcy, flourishing, wealth, selfies, and wefies of happiness. Behind every success is some sacrifice, pain and misery. Behind the wealth is a pit of loneliness and anxiety. Behind every curated photo is an unmet aspiration. Behind the assured smile could be the emptiness of grandiosity and bravado.

We struggle because we don’t know a great many things. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. We don’t know a great deal about our past. Our history only goes back a few hundred thousand years. We don’t know if we are the only lifeform in the universe, and if so, why. We don’t know whether our technologies are making things better or worse, but they sure make some people exceedingly rich. We don’t know what we don’t know.

We struggle because of our many limitations, for example, time, energy, perception, strength, physical presence, abilities, age, and entropy. There is only so much we can do and only so many places we can be. At the end of the day, we only have a brain, a pair of eyes and ears, one torso, two hands, and two feet. There is only so far we can go beyond that.

The struggle is inherent to our condition.

It is vital to respect the struggle. If we don’t, we struggle harder. We can only embrace and endure the struggle. When we do, we have a chance at accustomising it; better if we can derive enjoyment from it. The more we enjoy, the less we endure.

Since the struggle is inherent and relentless, it is a fact of life.

I choose to see the struggle as a good thing.

If we struggle right, it keeps us humble, vigilant and grateful. It develops our empathy and reduces our apathy. We are less judgmental and kinder in our assessment of others. We are more forgiving of mistakes and errors, ours and that of others. We punish ourselves less.

We all have our respective struggles.

I struggle. I know to some it may look like I don’t, but I do. Don’t be fooled. My struggle is more or less the same as everyone else’s: earning a living, living, flourishing, taking care of myself, finding time and energy, doing things and spending meaningful time with those important to me, finding work and clients, doing good work, making sure we are paid, tending to the firm environment and relations, attending to my work, my passions and responsibilities simultaneously, reading enough, writing enough, getting along with others, keeping up with my learning, honing my skills, wrestling with our feelings and thoughts.

There is a lot more to it.

All of it requires effort, physical, mental, and psychological. I don’t get a free pass at any of them. I have to expand my effort, energy, and attention. Relentlessly. Constantly. Unwaveringly. That is the struggle.

Being aware that everyone struggles like I do helps me keep perspective.

It placates my sense of envy. It assuages my competitive spirit. It contextualizes my grievance towards others. It helps me empathise with them. It encourages me to get along. To avoid burdening others. To help when and where I can. And if I cannot, I leave it alone. The worst thing we could do is help someone when we can’t. There is no need to add to another’s misery wantonly. Reducing opportunities for dispute creates chances for future cooperation.

Knowing everyone’s struggles, I focus on dealing with my struggles before I trouble others about theirs or mine. I mind my own business. I have enough business to mind. I share my struggles only if invited. I only mind another’s business when paid. I only do so if I am called upon and a cause or person is meaningful enough and worthwhile. Otherwise, it remains steadfastly none of my business.

The paradox is that the more mindfully we approach our struggle, the less of a struggle it becomes. There will be no end to our struggles. There will always be a different, new, or recurring one. All we can do is learn to enjoy and find peace in them. But there is a struggle in that, too.

If you are struggling, be comforted and assured that we are, too. You are not alone. We are only alone when we blind ourselves to the struggle of others or believe the facade they have constructed.

And be wary of anyone who tells us otherwise; they are fooling themselves.

Because life is a struggle, until it isn’t.

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