Growing up my grandma always used this saying, everyone has their own issues. As I have gotten older that saying has taken shape. Everyone has their own problems, but you can’t compare them to others.

There is not a single student at East Carolina University that doesn’t have some kind of pressure, stress or issues. Whether it be school, sports, work, relationship, friends or family related, it is a very stressful age and time as we figure out what we plan to do with our lives.

Recently financial aid told me that I would have to take out a loan in order to have enough money to graduate because I am out of grant money. Of course there are a lot of students out there that have no aid and at the end of the day I am still leaving college with less debt than most, but for me it’s a big deal.

The problem is not that we have issues, it’s that we compare them to the issues of others. Many of us find ourselves feeling guilty for expressing our own feelings because it’s “not as bad” as someone else has it.

A good friend of mine recently posted on his social media account that he felt bad for complaining about his cold because he had a friend suffering from Leukemia in the hospital. Our mutual friend, the Leukemia patient, responded to his post and told him that it wasn’t a competition, he was aloud to be sick too without feeling bad about it.

What our mutual friend did was the right way to handle that. Yes, he is very sick and in and out of the hospital, but that doesn’t mean that others aren’t allowed to feel bad. Actually he encourages people to share their struggles and supports them regardless of the “level”.

So often we find ourselves lessening our own problems because they don’t seem as significant as someone else’s. What does that do to solve anything?

Instead of dissecting our lives and comparing them to others, we should be finding ways to support each other without belittling our problems or someone else’s. Not telling my friend I have a headache because he just had ankle surgery doesn’t change the fact that I’m in pain and doesn’t change the fact he is in pain, but telling him does allow for us to support one another in our individual struggles in that moment.

Often times when we step back we acknowledge that the comparisons are completely different. Each situation is unique, just like the person in it. Everyone handles stress differently, so even if the problem is very similar the person may handle it completely different.

At the end of the day a good friend won’t be upset that you’re struggling as well. They will want to help and support you like you want to help and support them.

This doesn’t mean that every time a friend comes to you with a problem you should bring up your problems in that moment as well. Take time to hear that person out without dismissing their problems that may be lesser than your own or dismissing your problems because they are lesser than others. Everyone has their own struggles in life.

As we come into the new year and new semester, try to shape healthier relationships with friends and family that allow for both sides to be open about what they are going through and feel supported no matter how big or small it may seem to you. Be conscious and observant of those you care about and be kind to one another.

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