People can be terrible.
For as long as we have been on this planet, it seems like we can never learn to treat others with kindness and respect. We can move mountains and overcome milestones when it comes to big discoveries, and yet we still haven’t learned to master the concept of “loving thy neighbour as yourself,” a simple and fundamental concept that seems to fumble even the most brilliant of thinkers.
And in today’s world, you only have to turn on your TV, or listen to the radio, or go on FaceBook and see Joe Blow’s politically incorrect posts about ISIS or Trump or whatever, to see how cruel humans can be.
Because lets be honest. Humans are shitty.
Now don’t get me wrong. Not everyone fits into this category. There are a few good souls out there who have somehow managed to rise above all the bullshit and still see the good in the world, to still inspire others to try harder, to make peace even when the world was still against them – the men and women who have gone down in history as “The Greats,” that people misquote frequently on Instagram posts and use as examples for teachable moments. The people who have inspired change – they are out there, winning both small and big victories for us all.
And yet all we still choose to focus on is the negative.
And for me? I stand on a precipice, teetering back and forth, questioning everything I believe in but still trying to understand it all – to try to see the good in bad people, to try to find ways to be hopeful instead of downtrodden, to seek a little bit of serenity in this awfully hectic world. For me, I have always seen grey, swooping ripples of black and white swirling together to blur the lines, some moments definitely more greyer than others, but never completely black and white.
And even though there are moments where I stand alone in my views, I have also been beaten by others negativity. I have let people’s hurtful words and poor character seep into me and affect my self-esteem. I let other individuals influence my self-worth and dictate how I should be. During some hard moments of my life, I let people shatter what little hope I had left, leaving me feeling vulnerable and alone.
Because people can be terrible.
I was called weak because I had a mental illness. I was called spineless when I chose to stay silent during arguments. I was considered a failure for walking away from a job that made me physically and mentally ill. I was considered naive when I chose to give people the benefit of the doubt. I was called stupid when I started pursuing a career in writing full time.
People can be terrible.
So I tried to change the narrative. I worked on my character and altered myself to become a more “assertive” person. I tried to take those negative experiences and create something hopeful – to try to better myself and please others.
And how did people respond?
I was called an attention whore when I finally spoke out about my mental illness. I was called a bitch for when I finally chose to defend myself in arguments. I was still considered a failure for staying at a job that made me physically and mentally ill. I was called judgemental when I questioned people’s actions. I was deemed conceited when I finally started making money off my writing.
People can be terrible.
And yet, many considered it brave when I shared my experiences living with a mental illness. A few good friends thought I was strong for standing up for myself in fights. My family supported me when I walked away from a job that caused me more agony than joy. A few lucky souls were thankful when I gave them second chances. And my loved ones were happy for me when my writing dreams were finally coming true.
So why could I only focus on the negative?
There comes an heir of wisdom when you go through unfathomable circumstances. Maturity is not something that just comes with age, it is something that blossoms over time; it is the grace that reveals itself during hard situations and deep struggles. Life is far from being simple or fair, and sometimes it does feel like someone always has it better than you. I understand that better than anybody, but I also know how I choose to react is greater proof of my character than someone’s word of mouth.
At the end of the day, my actions and my judgements are the determinate of how I shape my life. How I wade through the struggles and flourish during the good are all that shape not only my character, but my perception of the world.
And I have had my downfalls too. I have let someone else’s negative feelings and hurtful words influence my behaviour or view of myself, but that does not make me “sensitive” or “weak” because of my mental illness. Just because my illness makes me sick, it doesn’t make me spineless. If anything, my illness has made me more understanding. I have been through trauma that no one has the right to diminish or judge. I have seen how messy the world can be, I witnessed how cruel others can treat each other, and I’ve experienced how violent a person can treat themselves when someone else’s doubts, negative opinions, and discrimination can affect their already wavering self-esteem.
So yes, maybe I am an attention whore for sharing my experiences of living with a mental health issue. Maybe I am spineless for shying away from conflict. Perhaps I am a failure for walking away from a potential 90,000 dollar job because it “stressed” me out. Maybe I am too sensitive for not wanting to hurt other people’s feelings. And to hell with it! Maybe I am narsassistic to think my writing is hot shit and that I’ll be able to make a killing off of it.
If someone wants to judge my character on the pretence that they have a higher moral ground then by all means, let them bring down hell fire. Call me names, backstab me, talk crap about me when I’m not around, fine. If that makes them feel superior or better about themselves, fine. Bring it on!
Just because I choose to remain silent, it doesn’t make them better.
And above all else, don’t mistake my maturity for weakness. It took many years and many wars for me to finally be able to like the person I see in mirror. I had to overcome milestones to finally find peace of mind. I had to face a lot of demons to finally forgive myself for the physical and mental violence I inflicted against myself. My forgiveness didn’t just come from forgiving those who hurt me, I had to learn to forgive myself. And that my darlings, is a hard road to walk.
So I am not spineless or weak. Nor am I better than anybody else. I have just chosen to value my own self-worth over someone else’s negative assumptions. And I know now when to walk away from situations that will cause me more harm than good. Believe me, I can name call, and finish fights, and be judgemental too. I can hurt people’s feelings and cause conflict and throw my success in someone’s face as well. I just choose not too. I respect myself too much now. But that doesn’t mean I’ll just “bend over and take it” either because I have my limits too. I just know when things are worth fighting for.
And being proud of the person I am today has been worth the battle.
So don’t you dare mistake my maturity for weakness.
Because I care about my well-being too much to let someone else convince me otherwise.
And as always,
Fight the good fight.