I have always felt that one of the things that makes a person an adult is the accepting of the ‘pain of life’. If a person avoids or neglects this pain they never, really, become an adult. In that sense, accepting the ‘pain of life’ is the initiation into adulthood.
By the ‘pain of life’ I mean the natural aching, longing, frustration, and hurt that happens in life. It is always there. It tends to manifest itself in several ways:
- As happenings or situations in life. Here the pain occurs in something that has happened to a person. It could be a bad experience (like an accident). It could be a common experience (like having kids). It could be an everyday thing (like work).
- As something that seems to ‘hang’ there. In this the ‘pain’ is ‘just there’. It is not necessarily associated with any happening or situation. There is just this general sense of an ‘ache’ or ‘pain’ in life. This can appear as frustration, anger, feeling neglected, depression, unhappiness, and so on.
Regardless of what one does this ‘pain of life’ will be there . . . somewhere. It’s for this reason I always say: Expect it! There’s no hiding from it. This pain is a part of growing up. It’s a part of living. It’s a part of being human.
It’s for this reason that I feel that it is not good to hide from the ‘pain of life’ completely. Some people will try to find ways to completely rid themselves of this pain. These are often done with drugs, alchahol, weird beliefs, becoming overly religious, trying to find the ‘answer’, and such. Typically, these are attempts at completely riding oneself of the pain. These tend to create more problems than they solve and end up hurting a person in the end.
But it is normal to try to find ways to ‘relieve’ this pain. A trait of this is that one lives with the pain but only tries to decrease its painful effects (sort of like using an aspirin). Many of these are a healthy way to deal with this pain . . . and normal, I think. In fact, a lot of what adults do are often done in response of this pain, in one way or another. Some of these includes:
- Going to college, or other means, in the hopes of getting a better job. Here there is the ‘fear’ (which is a form of the ‘pain of life’) of being bad off financially.
- Developing hobbies or activities. These tend to ease the ‘pain’ and often make it more bearable.
- Socializing. Having a good time with people helps ease the pain.
- Developing a family life. This can relieve a lot of the burden of the pain.
- Developing good attitudes about life. It’s true that bad attitudes only make the ‘pain’ of life worse.
The important thing, I think, is living with the ‘pain’. The ‘pain’ will never go away. In fact, in many ways, adulthood is nothing but coming to terms with the ‘pain of life’. Despite what we do, this ‘coming to terms’ ends up being a major influence in our lives, though we may not be aware of it. In some sense, it defines the adult life.
As a result, I have always felt that a big part of learning to live in a healthy way is finding ways to live with this pain and to relieve its effects so that it is ‘manageable’ and ‘tolerable’. Many people do this already, but they are not aware of it.