The human struggle to survive and flourish may be one of the most universal aspects of life as a person. Though struggle and hardship can be described at many different degrees and for a multitude of reasons, it is something that every single person experiences. Life is not perfect by any means, for any person, in any circumstance. It is easy to lose focus on the universality of struggle, and adopt the mindset that we are the only ones struggling, that we have it the hardest, and that we alone will have the most troublesome time getting out of our current hardship. It is true that there are always people who have it easier than we do, but it is also true that there are those who have it much, much harder than we could ever imagine.
When a person faces hardship or struggle, overcoming whatever obstacle they may be facing—social, mental, personal, or otherwise—is of utmost importance. It is not uncommon for the one enduring the struggle to let common courtesy, empathy, or even relationship maintenance to fall by the wayside. We alone have control over how we can react to the situations that we have been placed in, and attending to a challenge oftentimes takes priority over recognizing that our actions and reactions affect those around us, as well. When faced with a challenge, it is common to view our own being as an island, and that while we endure a hurricane, it is not necessary to concern ourselves with the well-being of others.
Sometimes however, we find ourselves on the flipside of a struggle. A friend, loved one, or acquaintance with whom we normally get along with appears distant and distracted. The one struggling snaps easily, is quick to boil, and acts out of character. However easy it may be to cast blame rashly at the one who is facing a challenge and concerning himself with himself only, it is important to understand that life is hard for every single person. We are not and cannot be alone in the struggle.
Human interdependence is critical for survival and flourishing—interaction with and dependence on others serve us when all else fails. They are a reminder that however hard times are, or will be, we are not alone. Empathy serves as the critical gauge to how far our relationships and even our species will go, for it alone indicates an awareness of our relative position in the world. When times get hard for those we love, it is empathy that holds the pieces together.
In the harsh world that we live in, it is imperative to never lose faith or give up hope on those whom we truly care for, for we will never know who it was that chose to hold on to us when we were the one at our wit’s end.