Thursday, September 29, 2011
Life Lessons: You Don’t Know, So Don’t Assume
September is a reflective time for me. As I turn 43 this month, I started thinking about some Life Lessons I’ve learned over the years and thought I’d share them.
Some people seem to have it all – money, career, a great relationship, angelic kids. Obviously, those people are doing something we aren’t. There they sit on top of the mountain while we struggle to make the climb. Oh, they have it so easy.
But how do you know that?
From the outside looking in, it is easy for things to look good. Think of the myth of the mermaid. After being out to see for months at a time, pirates and seamen would be lonely for companionship. They’d look across the water and in the distance see what appeared to be a mermaid, half woman/half fish, frolicking in the water. Upon closer inspection, what they thought was a mermaid, was actually a sea mammal called a manatee. If you’ve ever seen a manatee (look at the post photo), you’d know that these men must have been pretty desperate!
Yet, from a distance, that manatee appeared to be something completely different. So it is when we look at other people’s lives. We see them from a distance too. We don’t know what they’ve been through. We don’t know their traumas, we don’t know their sacrifices, and we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.
I was talking to a friend of mine who is having a difficult time and when she looked at other people, she compared her struggles to theirs and came up short. She assumed that others were having an easier time. I asked her how she knew that. It’s possible that they were but in many cases, they have a host of their own issues to deal with.
I’m not suggesting that we wish something bad people who are doing well or assume that their life is a lie and they are just pretending to be happy. I’m suggesting that people are people and we all have our struggles and just because we don’t see those struggles from our seat in the back row doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
It’s easy to compare ourselves to other successful people and the further they are away from us, the easier we assume they have it. Rarely do we ascribe perfect lives to the people closest to us. In those cases, we know enough to know some of their struggles.
Recognize that all of us are human. We win. We lose. We have our ups. We have our downs. We have our regrets and our mistakes – every one of us. We all have a story to tell and if we sat down and heard some of those stories, I guarantee we’d be surprised.