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I want to challenge the idea that other people having a harder life is supposed to make us feel better about ourselves and our pain. In fact, I think that when someone says, “think about all the people who have a more difficult life and be grateful for yours” that it’s incredibly wounding and invalidating. Hearing that doesn’t make anyone feel better or remedy their pain—it makes you feel worse and it’s induces a lot of shame.

The truth is that you can’t make comparisons when it comes to emotional struggle and pain. Everyone is different and everyone copes with life struggles differently. No one’s pain is more or less valid than anyone else’s—it’s just different. Your struggle is no exception.

No one else’s struggles—whether they are worse or less difficult than your own—have the ability to discount your experiences or invalidate your pain. Your feelings and struggles affect you and therefore they are significant and valid. Regardless of what is going on in anyone else’s life, your experiences deserve to be seen and heard.

So use your voice and speak your truth. Stand tall and refuse to let anyone keep you silent. Your feelings are important and they matter. Always.

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— Daniell Koepke