As I’m quite good at making myself small and not taking my needs seriously, I also frequently wonder whether I’m even entitled to feel bad. I tell myself that my problems are not severe enough to get help, or even talk about them. And I think that there are many of us who do this. People with physical or mental illnesses but also healthy people who are just going through a hard time.
And this neglecting things that are hard is not to be confused with gratefulness – because I’m genuinely aware that I have a lot to be grateful for that other people don’t have: I have a soft bed in a warm flat, more than enough food whenever I get hungry. I have a loving partner and although my family is torn apart and weird, most of them do their best to support me. I have a great job and a cute cat. I was allowed to go to school and learn how to read. I live in a country where only grandparents remember what war is like and I can drink water right from the tap. I’m lucky, I really am.
But even if there’s war in the world, even if children are starving and men enduring violence and women not getting paid what their work is worth, I have to stop telling myself that my problems don’t count. I have to stop comparing and judging problems because if I wait for world peace there will never be the right time to say “I’m struggling and I need help, no matter how insignificant my issues might be.”
And I guess that it’s important for many people to learn this – I know a lot of brave persons who struggle but always tell themselves to shut up because others have to endure worse. This will always be true but making ourselves small doesn’t help anyone and getting support, even if a problem seems to be small doesn’t have anything to do with whining – it’s a brave thing to do and it can also help others in the long run.