Wanting your struggle to matter

posted by Jeff | Thursday, December 3, 2020, 6:33 PM | comments: 0

If there's one thing that you could say about this year, it's that a lot of people, maybe most people, did not have what you would describe as a "good" year. Job losses, deaths in the family, financial hardship, parenting and school challenges, the psychological impact of isolation, racial injustice... history will not view 2020 as a good year.

The extent to which we're affected by the shit-show varies. On one hand, I think that people are generally empathetic to each other, but I feel like it's hard to outwardly express my own misery because it likely scores lower to someone else's. I'm sure I understand where this damage comes from for me, but I'm compelled to think about all of the things that reduce the self-perceived "severity" of my challenges. Life might be hard, but I have a good job and a place to live and no one is marginalizing me for being a straight white guy. My therapist (or any therapist) would tell you that this kind of value scoring around pain is toxic and stupid, but it doesn't make me any less likely to do it.

I think being 40-something already causes you to question your life and evaluate where you are and where you want to go, but throw in some life crises on top of that, that would happen whether there was a pandemic or not. I have struggled, in very painful ways, as a parent this year. Only Diana really understands where my head has been in that respect, because as you would expect, blogs and social media tell a partial story at best. Then layer in the mostly-virtual profile of your social scene, and a job where all of your "off-site" meetings are just more virtual meetings. It takes a toll on you.

My life may not seem difficult to someone else, but there are times when it really is to me. I want that to be OK.


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