My life, in a way, is a series of failing and improving. And each time, to go from failing to improving, I have to endure pain — there’s no way around it. Mostly, it’s emotional pain of different degrees, but sometimes there’s even physical pain which makes the experience oh so memorable. Nevertheless, I’ve been through this cycle so many times that I’ve become a pro at it. I know what pain does to me, means to me, and I know how to come out of it as a more mature and humbled person.

Please remember that this is only my perspective and by no means implies that any pain is more significant than the others, or pain should happen to anyone. On that note, here’s what I’ve learned about pain thus far:

 

Pain reminds me of my humanness.

Feeling pain is awful. Period. No one chooses pain if they could just choose pleasure. But being able to tell this contrast is exactly the point. If you don’t feel pain at all, you wouldn’t appreciate pleasure as much. You would just take what you have for granted and gradually lose sense of happiness, or even of who you are. Pain is good at making you suddenly conscious of your humanness. It’s like a knock on your head, waking up all your neurons and reminding you of your own mortality. Naturally, you will experience a range of intense emotions that come with it — anger, fear, sadness, hopelessness and even hopefulness. Life seems to slow down and reveal itself to you moment by moment instead of just passing you by.

 

Pain isn’t going to last forever.

Fortunately, that cliché picture quote on Instagram is right — time does heal all wounds. No matter how deep your pain is, over a good amount of time, you will start feeling better. You will eat again, sleep again, laugh again, meet new people again. Normality will return and you will slowly feel like your usual self, or even better, a renewed you. Funnily enough, you will realise reliving the painful experience actually takes a lot of energy, and as long as your headspace moves on, you can’t even be bothered to go back there again. At one point, you’ll subconsciously be more inclined to walk towards pleasure than to poke open your past wounds. You’ll allow yourself happiness again.

 

But healing isn’t the same as forgetting.

Feeling yourself again and seeking pleasure doesn’t mean you have forgotten about the cause to your pain, or the preceding happiness that made that pain so deep-cutting. It doesn’t lessen any feeling you had or might have while recalling the memories. It just means you have mentally put the past aside to make room for the present and move on with your life as this eventually becomes your only choice. Even when you’re so convinced your wounds are all healed and you genuinely feel positive and happy, you could just randomly bawl your eyes out for hours at night, and this can go on for longer than you’d expect. Even when you have stopped crying randomly and gotten back on your feet, you could still not be sure how you would react the moment that past is brought back in front of you in flesh and bones. You’ll realise it hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s staying somewhere inside of you, hidden away from you, waiting to surprise you.

 

Pain isn’t what I want but it’s what I need.

You might not want pain, but sometimes you do need it. Pain challenges you, or better yet, revives you. Without pain, you wouldn’t have had the motivation to transform your life the way you did. You wouldn’t have changed your lifestyle, your mindset, or even your belief system. You wouldn’t have gained a clear idea of who you don’t want to be and what kind of life you definitely don’t want to lead. You wouldn’t have learned about your depth, your strength and your capacity for love.

Pain isn’t your enemy. Pain is your trusted friend who does you a favour by giving you tough love.