The thing about pain and suffering is that it always feels especially tailored just for you. Like no one else in the world could possibly understand what it was like to go through That Thing. That trauma. That loss. That depression.
The truth is, of course, that we’ve all got wounds, scars, and secret shames. This doesn’t make our pain any less real or significant. But it’s all too easy to cling defensively to our hurts as if they in some way define us or make us unique. And while I’m sure I’m the ONLY one who had that thing happen in elementary school with the chocolate milk and the underwear, the honest fact is there are a lot of people out there who can relate on some level.
When we use our art to be mad at the world, and use our pain as a crutch or an excuse, or a reason to demand everyone make special accommodations for us, we risk alienating the very people we have the most power to reach.
But when we accept it, overcome it, push through it, and use it as a springboard to bring honesty to our work, something magical happens; the pain we thought was so personal, so specific, unique only to ourselves, suddenly connects to others who recognize something of themselves in what we’ve been through. In what we’ve survived, and in the best cases, conquered. Our deepest wound healed can be the greatest hope for one freshly wounded.
All hurts can be redeemed, if we have the courage to believe it.