Will Smith

“Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.”

In my journeys through the Internet last week, I stumbled across an interesting little factoid. Will Smith is older today than James Avery was when he first started as “Uncle Phil” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Our very perception of time is very much skewed and I find that as I get older, this becomes even more pronounced. It still boggles my mind that 1990, the year that The Fresh Prince TV show debuted, is 24 years ago. A person who was born partway through that run is now old enough to drink and to drive (hopefully not at the same time).

When I think about Will Smith, I still see him as the “Fresh Prince.” Before he got into television, Smith was known for his mostly “clean” rapping with DJ Jazzy Jeff. They’d have songs about summertime or about how parents just don’t understand. He may not have earned the same kind of “street cred” as the “gangsta rappers” of the day, but he enjoyed a great deal of commercial success. And since then, he has gone on to build a very successful movie career with films like I Am Legend, the Men In Black series and Independence Day.

Indeed, he has become one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood and this is coming from some kid who was born and raised in Philadelphia, spending most of his days on the playground.

Given his astronomical fame and fortune today, perhaps it isn’t entirely fair for the “Fresh Prince” to be talking about pain and hardship, but the message in the quote above still rings true. The grass always looks greener from the other side. When we look upon our seemingly perfect neighbors with their white picket fences and perfectly behaved children, we assume that they simply could not be happier. And many families are happy, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t also struggle through some difficulties.

Happiness is not about loving every moment or leading a life that is filled with nothing but unicorns and rainbows. Rather, it is about enduring the challenges so the rest of your world is meaningful and worthwhile. Everyone has their demons. Everyone has their problems. And as human beings, it is important that we are always there for one another. Through our common pains and struggles, we find connection and community.

Yes, Will Smith may still be known best as a goofball, but as this classic scene from The Fresh Prince illustrates, he knows something about portraying pain and betrayal too.

Image credit: Walmart (Flickr)