What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human. –Brené Brown
I was told the other day that the chaos of life is there to remind us we’re alive. Society assumes that if we’re struggling there’s something wrong with our wiring. We allow young people to have moments of struggle while they’re figuring life out and developing skills. Who is to say that on our 18th birthday we have life figured out and our toolbox is full?
My dad and I were discussing how adults are always learning and trying out new skills so we can become better versions of ourselves. This fear of ridicule or failure actually prevents us from wanting to struggle to become better. I think of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The fight it takes them to get out of the chrysalis builds their muscles and dexterity, which they’ll need for survival. Each experience, no matter how tragic or hard, is there to teach us something. A new skill we’ll need in the future or one we get to share with others.
Know what our job is when we’re not struggling? Be of support. Be a role model. Be that person we wanted when we were going through something. Changing our language from “they’re weak” to “they’re learning” not only allows us to have a greater outlook on the world, it gives that person permission to find their strength, instead of focusing on the hard parts to their story.
Kristen has worked in the mental health field since 2013, with a focus on crisis work, substance use services, and bringing a voice to lived experience. Her ambition is to change the way mental health care and recovery is seen and achieved, so to redefine what it means to defeat adversity. She is a storyteller and the editor of HopeInc.com.