Suffering Is The Key To Living A Great Life

Suffering Is The Key To Living A Great Life

Without suffering, none of us would be who we are today.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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I Hate That I Struggle To Love My 'Midsize' Body

I gained a few pounds, but that shouldn't be the end of the world, yet it is in a sense.

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Junior year of college has been quite the wild ride. I've had the best academic year of my entire life, yet struggled, in the end, to even want to get anything done. I didn't care about a lot of the things that used to matter to me.

I gained weight at the beginning of my second semester and went up a jean size, so half of my summer wardrobe just doesn't fit me anymore, and it's made me feel embarrassed. I went from a size 6 to an 8/10, and while it doesn't seem like a big jump to the average person, it was to me. I don't like looking in the mirror and seeing a bigger pooch than usual, or how my thighs have gotten super irritated because they also got bigger. Chaffing I used to only have in the summer occurred in late January and even scared my inner thighs. It's not cute and it hurts when it flares up. I am terrified to wear my bikinis again because I know they won't fit, and the second I put on shorts my thighs are going to want to kill me if I don't kill them first.

I came to really love my body last summer after struggling through a rough breakup where I stopped caring about myself. I owned myself last summer and as much as I want to again this summer, I'm really struggling with the idea of it.

All I feel like I see on social media are skinny girls with zero hint of a pooch or thick thighs in sight. I've never been a skinny girl and I never want to be, but I can't help but envy the people I've seen online and in person. Of course, what I see on social media isn't really accurate, but it's still been tough to look at these girls who seem like they don't have a care in the world. They can eat whatever they want and still look flawless. They can throw on a bikini and not have to feel like they need to suck everything in so no one sees their pooch hanging over their bikini bottom. As a stress eater who is still too terrified to try on her bikinis, I'm not looking forward to showing my body off when all I want to do sometimes is hide it because I don't feel happy with what I see.

I will always love being a curvier girl and YouTubers like Sierra Schultzzie, Carrie Dayton, and Lucy Wood have given me a new boost of inspiration to embrace the body I have right now. I'm not skinny but I'm not plus sized either. I feel pressure from myself and certain people in my life to be skinnier and not "let myself go." I

'm so happy to have friends who have helped me through my struggles and support me, even when I don't want to support myself. These YouTuber's have opened my eyes to the fact that this body deserves to be loved just as much as my former, smaller body.

I want to love myself with 100% of my being and I hate how much hatred I've allowed to go on inside of me. There is only one me and I need to be proud of her. Maybe she gained some weight and isn't what society expects from a girl, but she's still amazing and has so much to offer.

I wish I could see more girls like me on YouTube or social media offering a representation of my body type, which I hardly ever see. Aerie and American Eagle have done a fantastic job of including different body types and it's been a great help in seeing that they really to make clothes for all types of women, not just a size zero to two. Added representation really does wonders for someone suffering from low body confidence like me.

While I hope to begin my journey into losing a few pounds this summer by jogging whenever I get the chance, I'm not going to put intense pressure on myself to look a certain way. I am single for the summer and exploring life with my best friends by my side. I'm here to be the best version of me that I can. I cannot let negative thoughts about myself to dictate how I feel every day. I am strong, I am beautiful, and I need to love myself and my body as I am.

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Taking Time For Yourself Is Nothing To Feel Guilty About, It's Healthy

Your emotional health should be your utmost priority — and you deserve to be in good emotional health.

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Renowned Sōtō Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki once said that: "We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves." We've often been told the opposite, however. We've been told that our worth is dependent on what we can do for others and that our existence itself is meant for the advancement of society. There is no place within our culture to truly exist with ourselves. The parts of our culture that claim to value self-love and self-care tend to commodify it in the form of relaxation products and personal development products — albeit helpful at times but mostly meant to addict us without true benefit to our inner selves.

As a young student, I talked with an orthopedic surgeon — a very overworked, ambitious woman — who told me to learn how to make it in the long haul, whether in my personal, interpersonal, or career life. You had to learn to enjoy yourself and find inner peace along the way. Because there would come a time, she said, when I would become guilty to take time for myself and forget what it's like to really enjoy life. Unfortunately, I made it to that point — I worked and worked and worked until I finally burned myself out. That's when I had to make certain changes in my life to understand how I got to that point and where I needed to go from there.

In the midst of our grand ambitions, it's easy to either go all in or all out. Either to give your entire self to a certain end or give nothing at all. I've been very much guilty of ending up on both ends of the spectrum — I would either devote all my time to writing/school or hit a roadblock and give it all up for a while. It felt like the value of my life was predicated on success, whatever that meant, in terms of contributing more and more and achieving more and more. It's never, ever enough, however. No matter what you achieve, there will always be a million more things on your to-do list. Whatever you triumph over, there will always be a million more roadblocks in your path.

The answer for me was to learn how to exist with myself, how to exist with other people, how to exist amidst all the dreams I had for the future, but also in the present moment where all my past dreams had come to fruition. Sometimes I would dive too deep into myself, and lose myself in thought, as noted in Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." But I learned to participate fully, each moment to moment not necessarily enjoyable, but I find enjoyable moments each day with my friends, dog, boyfriend, and myself alone with a book or a pen.

Oftentimes as a crisis counselor, I am asked the questions: What's the point? Why am I here? What is there to look forward to? It's hard for me to precisely answer that question because, frankly, no one has anyone answer. But here's an answer that I believe in, born of taking time for ourselves: we live to feel the hope for happiness again. We live for the moments of joy, contentment, relaxation, excitement, pleasure, love, happiness, everything. We live to experience and to find each other. We live on because each new moment brings a surprise. There are many, many good moments in the future for all of us, even amongst the bad.

It's impossible to really experience life, however, if we're unable to take time to ourselves. That's one of my greatest fears, actually, that life will pass me by and I won't be able to experience each day as a full and complete miracle. There's something lost when everyone else gains from commodifying all aspects of our lives. Are you going to keep living for everyone else, or will you learn to exist for yourself? Do you owe the world your entire self, or can you take back at least some of yourself right now? Is it selfish to feel happy and not only to suffer?

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