“All happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, wrote Leo Tolstoy in the beginning of Anna Karenina in 1878.
Misery has many forms. And this is true for all people.
We don’t realise how insignificant or trivial our problems are until we hear what someone else is facing.
But what we often fail to acknowledge is that we don’t understand what other people are going through no matter how much they (try to) explain. It’s usually because we don’t really want to empathise. We’re better off worrying about our own microcosm-shattering problems: where to go out, what to do to pass the day, who to call for an outing, what to watch on TV, where to go on holiday. We quarrel among ourselves because we can’t coordinate to have fun, yet other people are facing evictions, money problems, job security; actual issues of survival.
It puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it?
Well, it should.
There is a truth in that in order to survive you need to be thick-skinned. You need to be somewhat insensitive, allowing things to slide, and refusing to be affected by them. If you’re too perceptive and impacted by everything, you’re the only one to lose.
Because no one really cares if you’re struggling – with work, with family, with pretty much anything. If you can’t follow suit in the fun and the expenditure, you’ll soon be cut off. And no one really cares what or how you work. It’s simple: if we don’t understand what you do, we’ll consider it as not very important, so you can always ‘leave it for later’ – but certainly not for the weekend or a holiday, or for when we already have plans.
We have a tendency to only view life through our own lenses. We obstinately refuse to walk in someone else’s shoes, or even make the slightest of efforts to share their perspective of reality.
And it’s a shame. Because united we could achieve so much. Instead, we ravage each other as if we’re trying to free up space in this world we’re destroying.
Instead of lifting each other up, we’re surreptitiously trying to tear each other down.