Everyone Has Baggage — It’s How You Deal With It That Matters

Life is a gift, sure, but it’s also really hard sometimes. By the time you reach adulthood, you’ll likely have some kind of “baggage” — leftover emotional damage due to some jarring circumstance that’s stayed with you long after it happened. You’re not alone in this; it happens to everyone. That being said, if you want to have a good life, you’d better learn how to deal with baggage, tragedy, and other setbacks. Here’s why it’s so important.

  1. Having experienced tragedy doesn’t give you a free pass to be a douchebag. The most common excuse I hear from people who act like jerks is that they had a tragic past, and that they’re still hurting from it all. Guess what? That’s no excuse. There are people out there on this earth that’ve gone through way worse and actually became better people because of it.
  2. What doesn’t kill you usually does make you stronger. Dealing with any kind of personal trauma or tragedy is incredibly difficult as it’s happening, but down the line it enables you to put things in perspective in life and keeps you from sweating the small stuff, because you know how much worse it could actually be. Plus, you know that when you face difficult times again, you can get through it in one piece since you’ve done it before.
  3. Going through tough times can make you more empathetic. No matter what you’ve been through, there’s someone else out there who’s been through it, too. There’s a lot of camaraderie among people who have overcome serious stuff, and in many occasions, the understanding that comes with it makes for a very loyal friend. Empathy allows you to connect with those around you because you can put yourself in their shoes.
  4. If you don’t deal with your baggage, it will cripple you. Regardless of what tragedy you’ve dealt with, I can assure you that if you aren’t capable of moving on, it’ll eventually suck all the fun out of your life. Rage, sorrow, grief, and anxiety from past issues can eat away at your ability to live a good life if you let it control you. By learning to move on, you’re learning self-preservation.
  5. Expecting others not to have baggage is unrealistic. You don’t only have to deal with your own baggage, you have to learn to deal with other people’s, as well, if you want to have a good relationship with them. If you can’t handle someone’s past, your ability to have a solid relationship with them will be shot. Nobody’s perfect, and by realizing this and embracing their issues, you’re showing yourself to be more mature than most.
  6. The bad times in life allow you to show others how much you’ve improved. No lie — people will always respect someone who’s shown that they can overcome serious life obstacles. If you want respect, showing people that you can come out on top no matter what you’re up against is the way to go.
  7. In many situations, the baggage that we run away from is what makes us who we are. As a friend of mine said, a diamond is just a lump of coal that was able to cope with pressure. How we react and what we do under stress is what often gives us our defining characteristics. Anyone who can’t accept your past shouldn’t be lucky enough to build a future with you.
  8. Baggage often gives you a better perspective on life. We live in a society that generally gives us what we need to survive. We often forget how bad life can be, or how bad it used to be. By embracing what happened to you, you are giving yourself the opportunity to look at the bright side of life. Look at how far you’ve come! You can do even better, trust me.

Don’t be too upset when someone says you have baggage. We are never, ever defined by what happened to us. What we are defined by in life is how we deal with it, the strength we had to have in order to overcome it all, and how happy we’ve become after dealing with hard luck. Baggage is never the problem. It’s how we deal with it that can be. So, deal with it as best you can.

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a New Jersey based writer and editor with bylines in Mashed, Newsbreak, Good Men Project, YourTango, and many more. She’s also the author of a safe travel guide for LGBTQIA+ people available on Amazon.

She regularly writes on her popular Medium page and posts on TikTok and Instagram @ossianamakescontent.