Hardship Is Not a Competition

I have so many friends who are struggling with dramatic hard stuff right now: cancer diagnoses and chronic illness and addiction. Then there’s me, struggling with the equally real but more ordinary hard stuff of pandemic anxiety and election politics anxiety and everyday life.⁠

Either way, I hear a lot of people—myself included—comparing our particular brand of hardship with a caveat. “First world problems.” “Other people are in much harder positions than I am.”⁠

I don’t know if we are trying to make ourselves feel better? Are we trying to console ourselves by thinking—at least I’m not in as bad a situation as that guy? Or are we trying to make ourselves feel worse? Are we shaming ourselves: I shouldn’t feel this way. I’m bad for complaining. I should just be grateful.⁠

But as a friend of mine stated succinctly: Hardship is not a competition.⁠

Right now lots of people are having a hard time. People in the first world, people in the developing world. People with a cancer diagnosis, people who feel like they are failing as a parent. People in the midst of dramatic hard stuff, people in the midst of ordinary hard stuff. A lot of it feels hard right now.⁠

And sure, we can practice gratitude and pray for peace and serve other people.⁠

But we also can admit that it is hard. There’s a sense of relief and freedom that comes just from acknowledging the truth. And at least for me, admitting when things are hard opens me up to receive the comfort that is available to us all in the midst of it.⁠

Hardship is not a competition.

{For more about the challenges and gifts of everyday life, check out my new, FREE e-book: Missing Out on Beautiful, Part Two.}


To learn more with Amy Julia in thinking about disability and the built world and belonging:

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Hi, I’m Amy Julia.

I write about faith, family, disability, and privilege.

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