You’ve seen the popular meme based on the quote: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” To bring perspective to our daily lives, we asked real people: What battle are you fighting right now? Here are their answers:

“Every day is a struggle to accept that where I am right now in life is where I’m supposed to be. I always wanted to be so much more. My past decisions haunt me.”
–Eric, 32, writer

“I struggle with not sweating the small stuff, not worrying about every possible outcome and having unnecessarily high expectations of myself. It can paralyze me with fear and worry about life decisions—of how, when, and what to do in every tiny aspect of life.”
–Sarah, 27, digital marketing manager

“I’ve spent two decades pleasing everyone in my life and I’ve forgotten how to make myself happy. It’s not as if I can book a massage or a trip to Europe and I’m good. Learning how to make myself happy is going to take a lot of work.”
–Padma, 41, teacher

“I’m providing care for my mom who has early onset Alzheimer’s. But it’s not just that. I’m helping her find meaning in life.”
–Nick, 38, project manager

“I have been angry at myself for getting frustrated with my newborn, and being irritable and short-tempered with those around me. I wish I could automatically have more patience and be more kind, but I’m not wired that way, and it takes a lot of conscious effort.”
–Gemini, 29, new mother

“I’m fighting the battle of self-control, and my addiction to videos. I’m trying to do better in school. I’m fighting the battle of childhood.”
–Claudia, 9, student

“The battle for myself, or rather, against the ‘false being’ within me. It comes to me when I’m feeling sad and lonely, and turns thoughts into lies. It’s the dark passenger that rides beside me in the front seat, always waiting for an opportunity to steal the wheel from my hands and steer me into an abyss.”
–Han, 33, distribution clerk

“I have been trying to have a child and it has proven quite difficult and painful. Every day is a mental struggle not to be weighed down by it. Every day, I must remind myself that my life isn’t less by not bearing a child of my own. People who have children will not understand this. And funnily enough, people who had struggled but then had children, forget the pain. It is a very lonely and personal battle. But you soldier on.”
–Monica, 41, marketing and communications practitioner

“I’m trying to adjust to a new country and lifestyle. I feel like a square trying to fit into a circular hole. Adjusting and changing myself to fit the mould. I sometimes find myself losing who I really am in order to make ends meet.”
–Luis, 18, overseas student

“I have a really hard time letting things go. I spend way too much time trying to convince myself that that person isn’t still thinking about that dumb thing I said three years ago so I shouldn’t be, either. I’m trying to work on not letting things I can’t control or change consume me for weeks or months on end. It’s hard work but pretending to be confident and happy while racked with anxiety is harder.”
–Elyse, 27, designer

“I often obsess unnecessarily over a long family history of addiction that I show no signs of perpetuating. It adds the smallest hue of guilt to completely normal things, like grabbing a drink with friends after a tough day at work.”
–Mark, 29, content marketer

“In addition to strained relations with my siblings, I am trying to learn how to relate to my mother’s increasing dementia. After a lifetime of living with depression, I have also developed health issues resulting from long-term stress that my family seems unwilling to acknowledge or assist in alleviating. I mostly feel like I want to run away and start over.”
–Rebecca, 49, office administrator

“Embracing difficult decisions like ending relationships, partnerships and patterns that no longer serve me—without feeling guilty about it.”
–Amanda, 32, editor

“I’m a new mom and I love my baby but I feel guilty when I don’t love every day of motherhood. I find myself wishing that motherhood was more like work—the harder you work, the more success you have—but it doesn’t work like that.”
–Sarah, 34, software analyst

“I took care of my Mama till her last breath, and supported a sister who lost her way for a long time, till she found it. Now, it’s caring for a dying friend with cancer. I’m learning the importance of life and how precious it is in all of its stages. It is a gift, and we should embrace it.”
–Olive, 64, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend

“My battle every day is to learn that I shouldn’t be sorry for the happiness that I make for myself. I was brought up to understand that I am the least priority and that I should know my place in society. That I should just be grateful and be happy for others, be content with what’s in front of me.”
–Angeli, 31, magazine editor

“I’m the oldest of four siblings and they’re all fighting their own battles. As the first-born, I watched them all grow up so naturally, I worry about each of them. So not only do I get to fight my own battles but I’m also involved in my family’s.”
–Jason, 41, business owner

“The constant battle I have is finding honest relationships with women. I’ve found over the course of my life that the closest women to me have betrayed me in a pernicious and manipulating way to get ahead in work, in relationships or for financial reasons. All in all, I’ve lost all trust in women having each other’s backs.”
–Louise, 28, manager

“All of my lifelong friends are falling down before my eyes, one by one: Vince, Gil, Emy, Jesse, Rey, Lito; cancer, Parkinson’s, aneurysm, heart attack. I’m now concentrating on  life with my wife, my children, and my granddaughter.”
–Mike, 67, retired businessman

“I have a special needs son who I care for and support, together with my family, as best as I can. But I go to sleep every night wondering if I’m doing enough to help him and if there is always more that I can do. Every day I’m reminded that he is both a joy and a burden.”
–Anne, 50, editor

“I came to Canada from Brazil for university five years ago when I was 18. Being away from home for long makes you start thinking about the time, people and professional life you’re investing in, where the unknown about the future can be a little overwhelming—especially when you’re 11,000 kms away from family.”
–Joaquin, 23, assistant production coordinator


Photo by Tim Bogdanov.

Some names have been changed for privacy, but their ages and battles are true. Be kind. 

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