I keep trying to write about this one thing, this one aspect of life, and every time I run out of words or feel as though the post is too angry, or pointless, or just a moan. But I keep, keep coming back to it. So apologies if this is poor quality, but it’s going to have to happen at some point.
It’s about growing up, and realising just how much pain there is in the world. I don’t mean third world countries, or conflict countries, or even poverty on the streets around us. I mean pain that we all feel. The pain that doesn’t come with statistics, or charitable support, or Christmas singles.
And whilst I don’t mean to be patronising, I really don’t think that the majority of us understand or even experience that pain and suffering until we’re at an age old enough where it can happen to us. I think that’s because – and this is totally OK – when we’re young, we’re very preoccupied with things which we think are the be all and end all of life on Earth, but which we actually lose sight of over time. There will come a moment when we get to hear all the ins and outs of the bombshell that has just hit, not the watered-down version that the kids get. Where we don’t only know about it, but we have to act on it; we do the crisis talks, we do the driving to hospital, we help sort out the legal papers.
It’s so hard. So, so hard. There is lots of being angry and frustrated, lots of feeling alone, lots of being sick of lots of clichés. I fucking hate clichés. When somebody comes to me with a problem, I always strive to give it to them straight. If it’s a shit situation, I’m telling them it’s a shit situation and that there is going to be a lot of hurt. And to let it hurt. If you don’t, it’ll come back around and you’ll go out your fucking mind.
But whatever advice you give or receive, nobody ever knows really how to deal with these situations. There is no guidebook that you can refer to: page 25, divorce of my parents after 30 years of what we all thought was a happy marriage. Page 13, my sister’s gone off the rails. Page 7, my mum is dying. There are no prescribed solutions, because none of these problems or the people going through them are ever exactly the same.
I think the best way, though, is to just accept them for what they are. To never be alone. To talk – but don’t seek attention. That’s counterproductive. Because whilst a lot of the time it will feel like nobody has ever gone through what you’re going through, that’s not true. Just because people don’t publicise their problems all of the time, that does not mean that they don’t exist. That doesn’t mean they won’t offer a shoulder to cry on, or a cup of tea, or a completely random conversation to get your mind off the subject.
And what is ever more evident to me is the sheer strength of the human race, becoming obvious as people confide in me, as I read real-life stories (most of the time on the Humans of New York Facebook page – give it a read if you haven’t already. Kleenex at the ready), as I go through testing situations myself. We all have this weird shock mechanism that allows us to remain focussed on a million important things – studies, work, our family, bills, our health, anything – whilst providing support to those around us that are suffering, and whose suffering directly affects us.
Like I said, it is so tough. And it’s OK to accept that. To have the breakdown days that I know you’ve all had – the duvet days, the fuck the world days, the this is SO not fair days. I know. Ditto.
But keep pushing through, because you have somebody that needs you to do that. You have somebody that wants you to achieve everything that you can achieve, and that is on the edge of their seat, waiting for you to get there so that they can scream from the rooftops about how proud they are of you. Just keep going. Keep supporting. Keep being the voice of reason, keep refusing to dish out the clichés. Keep having the shit days, keep being thankful for the good days. Keep working. Keep revising. Keep going.
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
– A. A. Milne