“If everyone cared and nobody cried, if everyone loved and nobody lied, if everyone shared and swallowed their pride then we’d see the day when nobody died.”
Nickelback, If Everyone Cared.
In Monday’s post I mentioned I was using my car accident to remind myself of several important lessons. The first being the one I discussed in that post, don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. But there’s another very important analogy the appearance of my car post-accident reminded me of. You see at first glance you might not have even realized my car was involved in an accident. If you didn’t look closely or open my trunk, the accident didn’t look that bad. That’s the thing about taking things at face value, they can be deceiving.
When I opened my trunk and saw the internal damage, it reminded me of a Facebook post I saw a few years ago. Maybe you’ve seen it too. The one where someone talks about seeing a student driver sticker on a car and being more patient with that car. The poster posed the question, would you be more patient with the people in your life if they wore their internal struggles like a bumper sticker?
My totaled car, looking relatively unscathed on the outside, reminded me of that. It reminded me that sometimes people can look absolutely fine on the outside, but on the inside they’re struggling to hold themselves together. How could I, someone who’s all too familiar with suppressing feelings and the struggles of mental illness, have forgotten that lesson?
Are we too quick to assume people are okay just because they look okay? Would I have treated that slow cashier differently if I knew she was dyslexic and embarrassed by how badly she struggled to calculate my change? Or would I have treated a friend who blew me off with more understanding if I knew she was helping her family with her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s?
Better yet, if everyone is struggling with their own internal demons, should we even have to tell people we’re struggling? Shouldn’t we just be understanding and kind to one another, no explanation needed?
My car looked fine on the outside. That didn’t mean the inside wasn’t destroyed and totaled. That didn’t mean I hurt any less. That didn’t mean things were okay.
Let’s stop assuming people are okay just because they appear fine on the outside. When someone isn’t behaving the way you think they should be, offer to help. Ask them if they’re okay. Don’t diminish their struggles or take offense if they aren’t comfortable opening up to you. Remind yourself that just because they look okay, doesn’t mean they are okay.
Still trying to figure it out,