We have all learned not to judge book by its cover, not to criticize what you cannot understand and not to be fooled by what you see on the outside, because the inside is often a very different story. We learn this lesson in grade school as we build friendships, and carry it through our lives as we form deeper connections and relationships. Humans are social creatures – we have a need to form these relationships and feel as though we are part of a community, and this lesson is one of the fundamentals of how we do this.
Unfortunately, this rule of not drawing conclusions before having all the correct information often does not go further than how we make new friends. Unfortunately, unless people have an obvious physical disability or illness, we assume that everything in their life is perfect and that they should act accordingly. If someone does not appear sick, they are perfectly healthy.
As we go about our daily lives it is amazing how easily we can forget this lesson, that things are not always as they appear. Perhaps the fellow that cut in front of you in the coffee line is not ill-mannered, but just lost his job and is not aware of his actions on account of being in shock, or perhaps the gal that made a scene at the restaurant about having only two ice cubes in her water is not incredibly high-maintenance, but just received a life-altering diagnosis.
I have been very blessed throughout my journey with cancer, in that I have not had to deal with physically altering side effects of chemotherapy drugs. I did not loose my long golden locks, eyebrows or eyelashes, I did not look frail or sick (actually, quite the opposite – my main side effect was radiance!). I will be the first to say that not having to deal with a changing outer appearance while also managing all the inner change did SO much for my wellbeing, however, it also made my attempt at navigating a normal life quite difficult at times. Remember our earlier chat about if people do not appear to be sick, they must be perfectly healthy…WRONGO!!
Furthermore, now that I have successfully made it to the other end of my treatment (and due to the fact that I look “normal” with my aforementioned golden locks, eyebrows and eyelashes), there is an expectation that I should want to get my life “back to normal” as soon as possible. Well, I haven’t just been sitting around waiting for normal to come knocking on my door again! Nope, I have created a new normal. I have been living life, and loving (almost) every minute of it. These expectations, at times, result in me trying to justify where I am currently at in my journey, and sometimes even questioning if I am still on the right path. The invisible mental, emotional and energetic side effects are difficult to talk about, because we know that if people cannot see something, they believe it not to be true.
I know that this is something that many people in many different situations deal with. Whether you are in recovery mode after an injury or illness, whether you are pulling through some relationship turmoil or maybe you have a difficult time remaining upbeat and positive during the dreary and dark winter season. Whatever we are going through, we must make it a practice to prioritize the wellbeing of our bodies, souls and spirits, and vow not to let other’s expectations get in our way of doing this. And yes, I do believe it is a practice. Similar to what I chat about in The Practice of Positivity, it is something we must be conscious of and direct energy towards everyday.
On the flip side of the coin, we must remember that our friends, coworkers and fellow latte-lovers in the coffee shop line up also experience these invisible emotional and mental struggles, and we must trust that their external projections are just side effects of their current journey. Just as we must be conscious of our practice of letting ourselves heal, we must also extend this gift to others.
The fact is, we never really know what a perfect stranger is going through. We do not know what life-altering phone call they may have recently received, what life assignment they are currently working through or where they are at in their journey. Sometimes we just need to create space in our lives for our bodies to heal in order for the magic to take place. Trust that you are on the right path, because hey, the universe is sure cheeky and she will let you know when it’s time for a shift!