Many individuals and families face financial struggles, and my husband and I are no exception. Due to various personal misfortunes, including a scamming incident in 2021, we decided to put our jewelry business on hold. All these events put a tremendous strain on our finances, and we were forced to find other income sources.

Working multiple jobs to get by

Over time, we realized it was impossible to rely on one income to sustain our daily needs. With this being the case, we now both work multiple freelance jobs. (Thankfully, each of us has at least one regular client.)

Furthermore, my husband and I have disabilities, which add to our daily expenses. My husband has two chronic illnesses, and I am also diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar II. As a result, we prioritize medication, therapy, and other forms of de-stressing and relaxation, which are all non-negotiable expenses.

While we are working to improve our financial situation and repay the debts we owe others, it isn’t always easy. Admittedly, we experience setbacks from time to time.

It’s so simple to judge others when you don’t know them

Recently, we received a hurtful comment from someone who did not know us personally. This person claimed that we were not tending to our business or taking care of our clients. They also claimed that we were simply “enjoying our lives” instead, perhaps because of some things they saw on social media. While there is some truth to that statement, as we are still working on repaying our debts, we also felt unfairly judged.

People must acknowledge that individuals do not always share their whole story. Though we often reference the scamming incident, there is more to it than we can publicly mention.

When information is limited, it’s so easy to jump to conclusions without understanding the big picture. We all have the right to our own assumptions, but we must also remember that snap judgments are often inaccurate.

Oftentimes, such judgments cause others to feel invalidated. When we invalidate others, we make them feel as though their feelings and experiences don’t matter. We distance ourselves from them, destroying any possibility of human connection.

Invalidation […] is the rejection or dismissal of a person’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviours as being valid and understandable.

When we judge or invalidate others instead of trying to connect with them, we can even miss a cry for help. How often do we hear of a struggling person hiding beneath a strong or smiling façade? Only when other people find out, it’s too late?

Yes, you can be struggling and still enjoy life!

It is possible to struggle and still find moments of joy and happiness in life. All people have the right to de-stress and enjoy life’s silver linings — including those who are going through hard times. It is unfair to assume that just because someone is struggling, they cannot or should not have moments of enjoyment or relaxation.

Besides, people cope with difficulties in various ways! It’s not fair to question someone’s struggles just because they choose to deal with them in unconventional ways.

As individuals with disabilities, my husband and I understand the importance of living as normally as possible and making the best of life. And as parents, we also believe that children need to feel safe during their formative years and to have as many pleasant, stress-free memories as possible while they are young.

It is crucial to approach individuals with empathy and understanding

…because judgments and assumptions can hurt and cause harm. They also sever any possibility of human connection, making us distant from one another.

Financial problems and other struggles mustn’t be taken lightly. But it’s also important to acknowledge that one can work towards improvement while still enjoying life. We mustn’t assume that a person isn’t doing their best simply because we see them smiling or trying to have fun while in pain. One can find small moments of enjoyment amid strife. In fact, these can even motivate someone to keep going and not give up, despite life’s hardships.

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