“And then you told me how bad you had to suffer. Is that really all you have to offer?

Bad Religion

There is something inside of us that realizes that we need to struggle and suffer and overcome to be fulfilled in life, yet we are blessed and cursed with in living in an age where this is almost nonexistent in any real way. Historically speaking, our lives are pretty cushy, and many of our worst days take place within such technological luxury that our ancestors would wonder if we are Gods.

This is pretty cool, but it is also a little debilitating for us, as it triggers those questions inside of us about what we could really handle if we had to, where our worth lies and whether or not we are just giant candy asses.

There seems to be this sort of Struggle Olympics taking place all the time, both in person and online, as people and groups of people seek to make the case that their struggle is real and worse than everyone else’s. There is this entire culture built up around it these days.  Maybe there always has been. It seems to be becoming more and more acute as people are able to use technology to find little pockets of people just like them and commiserate in an echo chamber, each feeding everyone else’s collective sense of oppression. Often, what I see listed and named as struggle and suffering in these contexts is really a statement of privilege in the sense that one must really live a pretty privileged life if this is something so crushing you have to take to Reddit or Tumblr to talk about it.

I don’t have the sense of moral outrage over this that I see some people manifesting, but I do hate to see people choosing an identity of struggle and suffering because of how limiting it is. If you identify most strongly with the idea that you are always being held down or that you are suffering worse than everyone else, how will you escape these struggles and sufferings that you are saying make your life so miserable?

What we identify with is everything.

There are people who truly struggle and suffer. The people I meet who truly struggle, often from disabilities that make our modern world very difficult to navigate or from truly oppressive systems and environments, are the least likely to brag about it and do not want to be identified with it. They want others to realize there is more to them than their limitations, and that how others treat them is not an indication of who they are or a badge to be worn on their jackets. They realize that accepting that identity, especially being proud of it, will keep them in it.

People experiencing true suffering often have no desire for it to continue.

People experiencing true struggle want it to stop. They want a way out, and they would gladly trade all the sympathy and solidarity and internet points they get for it for a fair shot and a chance for something more. They generally don’t brag or make memes about it.

What do you identify as your struggle or your suffering?

What does identifying with this do for you? What is the perceived benefit?

Who would you be without this identity?

Who could you be without it?