I'm going to sound quite morbid, but if I could summarize the last year of my life in one word, it would be suffering. Honestly, I've never had to battle and fight for my life more than I had to over the past year, and I wouldn't change a thing. From heartbreak to my weight to testing out a plethora of medications for my mental illness, it's been tough. At one point, I even had to experience withdrawal symptoms from a medication that was absolutely horrendous and did not work whatsoever for me (it only worked in making me addicted to it). Anxiety also became much worse for me this year; some days I couldn't even get out of my bed, let alone leave the dorm room and go to classes. Now, I'm not trying to make you feel pity for me or be sympathetic, but rather, it's quite the opposite.

See, I've come to discover that we have an easier time accepting the suffering that others are going through rather than our own. Intrinsically, humans find it hard to admit defeat and pain, and culturally we are taught that we should feel ashamed for experiencing these things. So then we suppress our suffering, leading the weight of it to be almost unbearable. Yet when someone opens up to us about their suffering (at least in my case), we tend to welcome theirs with open arms, telling them that it's okay to be feeling that way. Unfortunately, the hypocrisy is quite destructive because we begin to spend our time focused on their suffering: accepting it, coping with it, and winning the battle with it; so much so that we ignore our own, letting it build and build upon itself and rooting deeper within.

For people, finding the balance between our personal suffering and the suffering of others is crucial.

Suffering really fricking sucks, and there's no denying that. Brutal, tasking, exhausting, emotional, and painful only begins to describe it. However, let's just take a second to think about suffering. I want you to envision your life without the suffering that you've endured, whether it's minor or major. Think about how that suffering influenced your life to this day; think about how it has molded you. Now, if that suffering never happened, would you be the person you are today?

Most likely, your answer is no. And honestly, it should be no for everybody; saying that suffering hasn't impacted your life and yourself to this day would be denying the very fact that it has happened to you.

Personally, I am one of those people who firmly believes that everything happens to you for a reason, and I especially believe this when it comes to suffering. Suffering allows us to grow deeper in empathy, build up our endurance, and help those around us more. In other words, without suffering we absolutely cannot grow. So I encourage you to accept your suffering for what it is and with open arms, and allow yourself to grow stronger from it. When I finally accepted my suffering, I found so much peace from it, and I've found it to be much easier to cope with. In turn, I have a much higher capacity and more potential to help others through their suffering.

Now, if we don't have a good balance between our personal suffering and the suffering of others, our world is going to be a hot mess, along with our own lives. Suffering eternally returns in life, and there is no possible way to deny that or change that. As individuals, though, we can change how we react to suffering when it returns and our attitudes towards it. From what I've discovered this year, the best thing you can do not only for yourself but for others as well as to welcome and accept suffering at its face value. Let it hurt and exhaust you; let it put you through trials and tests. In this, you will find you truest strength from your weakest moments. You'll learn that you can take on whatever comes your way, and then you can help others do and see the same.