One of those weird memories that sticks in my brain for no immediately obvious reason is from my junior year of college, when my friend told me, "OK, I've sorted out my class schedule. Now I just need to balance my work life with my personal life." It seemed weird because she stated that like it's something you can just do, like it belongs on an itemized list -- but if it does, it's right below "figure out how to manage relationships properly" and right above "earn your dad's respect." I mean that it's a real problem, but it's one of those things that everyone, everywhere, has to deal with. Forever.
Awww, look how complicated and painful that relationship will always be, no matter fucking what!
Then I started noticing that everyone was saying stuff like that: kids babble about how they're having trouble with calculus, Jon Snow in that episode of Game of Thrones bitches about the fact that he's the only one to have to deal with family problems to another character on a show that's entirely about family problems. It was irritating until I realized that I do the same thing: I was talking to my uncle about whiskey, and I said that my favorite was Jameson, but I couldn't afford it, and he laughed and said, "Yeah, everyone would buy Jameson if they could afford it."
Then I realized what an idiot I had been. Partly because Laphroaig is superior to Jameson in every conceivable way, but also because I had assumed that I had any problems, any at all, that were unique to me. I had thought that I could never look at something in my life and think "No one else has to deal with this shit!" and not be hopelessly, hilariously, fucktardedly wrong.
You're never more ashamed of anything than your youthful opinions of hard alcohol.
Pick the big thing fucking up your life right now. Doesn't matter if it's something that everyone has to deal with, like situational social anxiety, or something more rare and difficult to explain, like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. There are dozens, hundreds, maybe even billions of people who have dealt with it before you. Instead of feeling ashamed, feel liberated. Your problems are still big, and important, and it totally makes sense to feel overwhelmed. But once you realize that there are thousands of people at any given time going through the exact same thing, and that there are all kinds of ways to find them, you'll also realize that you never have to feel alone again.
Sure, it makes you less of a unique and special little messianic snowflake, but it also really takes the load off. Plus, not being unique means you don't have to sacrifice yourself for the good of humanity in the third act.
J.F. Sargent dispenses wisdom on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Also dick jokes. Mainly the dick thing, really.