I had left a high pressure legal career to create more space for my life. But that hadn’t happened.
The life I was living wasn’t the life I sought to create. There were many issues; some surface things, other more systemic and serious. Those details are not for now.
I knew I had to make some radical changes in my life. I had to make changes to save my life.
Over the past 3 years, I’ve made radical changes, but in the smallest of steps. I’m not yet done. Some of the changes I decided on in those moments are still in the process of unfolding.
My Biggest Mistake
In the day-to-day, my transformation and evolution hasn’t always been obvious — not to me, and not to others. Especially because I haven’t shared much of it in public or even ventured out in public much in a way that others would notice it.
This was a mistake. Sharing our struggles is the best way to transform them into strengths.
Although I shared some pieces with certain friends and mentors, I mostly processed things on my own. Sometimes, what serves us most is the willingness to retreat into the dark abyss and do the digging ourselves. You have to know when the time is right to share things more publicly.
If I had it to do over, I would have shared more of what I was going through as I went through it.
Here are three reasons why you should share your struggles.
(1) Receive Support
First, the process of navigating major life upheavals — even those we bring upon ourselves — is so much easier when we can lean on others for support.
People generally want to help. But nobody is a mind-reader.
It’s hard for people to support you if you don’t tell them what’s going on.
It’s More Effective When Someone Else Holds the Light
The path of personal transformation is also one of personal excavation. I spent long periods digging deep into the dark corners of my life, finding the roots of seeds that had been planted in my early days and pulling them up, one by one.
Digging with one hand while holding the light with your other hand makes for a slow process.
At times, I yearned for someone else to hold the flashlight.
Embrace the Discomfort
Of course, to allow someone else to be there holding the light for you is to risk that they will see what you find. It’s one thing to expose your dirt to yourself, then clean it up in your memoir or for your social media feed. We all know the down-and-out to millionaire script by now.
The fear that others will see our deepest wounds — before we have a chance to run them through the Instagram filters and sanitize the language for social media — is what keeps us from reaching out for help.
And, yet, when you have the right person beside you — a person who isn’t afraid to sit with you in the shadows as you pull up the weeds from your past, who knows how to shine the light of truth at a flattering angle — the burden is drastically reduced.
(2) Help Others
Second, no matter where we are on our path, how big our challenges feel to us, or how heavy our burden feels, there are always people we can help if we are willing to share.
Struggle is universal. We all experience it at some point.
I’ve navigated through a lot of pain over the past 3 years, often feeling that I was incapable of helping myself, let alone anyone else. But as I look back now with the perspective of some distance, I realize how much I could have offered to others — even in my darkest moments.
Many people go through similar challenges without the abundance of tools and resources that I have.
We don’t always realize how much we know, and how much we can offer to others, if we are only willing to share our truth.
At the very least, it helps others to know they are not alone.
(3) Get Perspective
When we share our experiences with others, we are forced to process them in a different way. We look at them from the outside, instead of from within. We shape a narrative as we tell a story.
This helps us get perspective on our situation. Even writing it down in a journal helps. Seeing what comes out of our hands as we type or write, or hearing what comes out of our mouth when we speak, can shed a new light on something that we didn’t realize before.
I wrote — and still write — extensively in my journals. Sometimes I would wonder if I wrote too much. When I review those journal entries now, I can feel the raw pain from some of them. But they remind me of where I was and how far I’ve come. That reminder serves me when I hit a new rough patch. I know that this, too, shall pass.
It’s Never Too Late
This is what I know: as long as we are here, we get a second chance. The journey of growth is infinite, and struggle is inevitable. We can start sharing at any time.
How have you benefitted from sharing your struggles? What’s your biggest fear in sharing your journey? Please share in the comments.