Once in a while, I bite off more than I can chew. Part of why I do this is to prove my existence and part of why I do this is for acknowledgement, though not exclusively. I feel most of my life story involves oppression or some form of being demonized. It’s caused me a lot of struggle and strife throughout my life, the false persecution from others.

When I was younger, I would deliberately go out of my own way to prove someone wrong. I suppose not much has changed since then, though I must admit that I’ve definitely chilled out as I’ve aged (patience is a constant learning process for me, though it comes easier when I’m not involved). I used to hate that about myself because it caused quite a bit of loneliness (it turns out that most people don’t like to be challenged, regardless of right or wrong). To me, it was the only way to really change someone’s mind; seeing is believing for some.

Everybody has their own story and is fighting their own fight with each and every day. I have to remind myself that the same goes for me. I’m living my own story and fighting my own struggles, the same as every one else. There’s a difference between some of us, though. Some of us become united from this, understanding that we’re all going through the same stuff in different ways. Others are too full of pain and instead isolate themselves, believing themselves to be more plagued and worse off than everyone.

I’ve taken the isolation route before. Sometimes it’s a hard habit to fight. I put pressure on myself, telling myself that I’m the only one capable of doing something. This can stem from a few things, but they all relate to losing trust in others. Some people have been so hurt and traumatized, betrayed or deceived, that they end up stuck in that world believing “everyone who isn’t me hurts me.”

The other side to this coin is of those who relate through and to others by sharing their pain. This path can be just as difficult as isolation, but at least you’re not alone. Dealing with your own demons, overcoming an unexpected element (accidents, for example), learning to live with mistakes or regrets, coping with your own decisions, and deciding not to fool yourself anymore; it’s just as much of a struggle. The difference between these paths is only in length, not difficulty.

Through isolation … well that’s self-explanatory, isn’t it? Unless you’re a hermit, we are social creatures. You may achieve greatness on your own, but there’s no shame in help. Sometimes you might consider yourself weak for getting help, or maybe are cautious of those who might take advantage of you. Consider isolation to be just a “shortcut that isn’t actually a shortcut”; instead of a straight line path, the path curves only to once again meet at the same road you left. Sometimes we need to isolate ourselves, though.

We don’t always need to be around other people. I remember getting time-outs when I was a child. “Sit in the corner and think about what you did,” I was told. Do we ever give ourselves time-out? Do we think about what we did as adult? I don’t think it is as common. I never really understood what it meant to “think about what I did” when I was told, though I was capable of doing it if it was something more drastic. Time-out is meant for us to reflect on what we did wrong and how we can make amends for our mistakes. That’s part of being human.

The isolation path can be a lot of extra work, but it doesn’t have to be. The point of isolation is to think about what you’ve done, but also to think about what’s happened and accept the reality. It’s easier to ignore the problems in front of us, but we can only ignore them for so long without straying from our original path. Eventually, we’re lost and feel there isn’t any way of going back … which means the only way back is to face what it is you’ve been avoiding.

That obstacle can be anything, though. It can be something as extreme as the death of a loved one or something accumulated throughout the path, smaller stresses that add up through time. It can be one tiny thing that’s grown because of your fear of it just as well.

Nobody likes to struggle, but avoiding it won’t help anybody and it certainly won’t help yourself. Part of living means fighting, but it’s all about the perception of fighting. Fighting doesn’t necessarily mean punching someone else or “going Rambo,” it means to push through something when you feel you don’t have much strength left to push. Through personal experience, I have an easier time pushing through the struggle when it is for someone else than when it is for myself, but I have far more strength when I have others pushing with me than I would by myself.

We’re all facing struggles and strife, just as we’re all living our own story as the main character. Part of making it through to the other side is including others and helping others as they help you, or just helping others for the sake of helping them because you can.

What makes pushing easier? Learning that you don’t have to push alone, but also learning that sometimes your problems aren’t nearly as big as you make them out to be. It’s easy to perceive something differently in your head than as it actually is, which is where you benefit from your brief moment of isolation. Proper reflection and understanding is what makes pushing easier; it’s one of the many ways to help relieve yourself of so much stress and self-induced pressure.

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