Ariel Gordon asks an intriguing question: Have people gotten crueler in recent years?
I remember when people were kind and considerate. At least, I thought they were. When I was a kid, home seemed rough. School seemed impossible. However, aside from some minor incidents, when I went out in the world, people were generally pretty nice to me. My grandmother’s friends were nice enough, strangers were patient and kind to me, and the world seemed to be a pretty swell and safe place.
When did people turn so cruel? Or, when did I become so aware of it?
Now, let me clarify, although I did grow up in a fairly sheltered world, I still faced the troubles most quirky, quiet kids faced. I got bullied and abused, I was mocked and ridiculed, everything about me was put-down, hated, and cruelly diminished.
Somehow, though, I didn’t take this to mean everyone was cruel. I didn’t assume everyone was out to get me. My optimism and kind personality stuck with me through the physical and verbal abuse. It definitely wasn’t me who became cold and lost compassion, that’s for sure. At some point, though, I noticed a pattern. Friends stabbed backs, strangers betrayed and threatened you, family let you down, and the world was just a complete, chaotic mess.
Yet still I wasn’t hardened by this reality. I didn’t want to be like them, so I didn’t allow myself to become like them. Sure once in a while I’ll give a glare or make a comment that I regret, but generally, I look kindly upon humanity. As much as I want to lose faith, I don’t have it in me. Honestly, it takes a lot of energy to put up that much of a shield. No one may hurt you, but you can’t touch the lives of others, either. When that light dims and that armor goes up, you lose a connection. The only connection we have in life is with each other. Other animals and plants and worldly things are great in their own way, but there’s something about humans that is irresistible. They’re disgusting and mean and conniving, and generally just have so many awful traits, but they’re OURS. As kind as you and I are, as wonderful and intelligent and open-minded and tolerant and not annoying as we think we “ARE”, we are human, and we are just as capable of being the very same. There may be someone out there who views you that way.
We don’t have the ability to change the things we don’t like, but we can change ourselves. Right? Remember that little tidbit of wisdom we’ve all heard? You’re stuck with humans. You don’t have to completely immerse yourself in their culture (i.e. television, social media, magazines…) but just remember that we’re all confused and slightly crazy patients to each other. We learn from others and have to accept all, even those we don’t like, because they aren’t going anywhere.
Since I mentioned it, those who really want to detach from other humans, whether temporarily or for life, step away from all those commercials! The movies and fake news is just selling you thoughts and feelings. While being present and aware is great, it’s swallowing each and every one of us. That phone in your pocket is constantly gnawing at you, eating away at your pocket, trying to get to you. Delete all your junk, sign out of all your garbage, and breathe. Admire the sky or the person or pet you love. Read that book or learn Spanish and ballroom dancing….. Do everything and anything you can. Because one day you’ll wonder why life is so short, and I’ll be there chuckling. It wasn’t short, you just kept wondering when the next Friday would be or when the next show would come out on Netflix or why the guy you like is commenting on another person’s photos, or how come your legs don’t look like his legs or her hair or their cool outfits which you need more money for, but your job is stupid. Even though you go in everyday and grumble and make fun of the worker who is smiling all day. That person probably is feeling the same or is using every ounce of their energy to not feel that way. You don’t have to be that person, but why not be that person?
Is this just another overly-positive pep talk that doesn’t apply to 40% of the depressed population? Yes. You don’t want to hear this. Why? Because being sad or angry or any negative emotion kind of feels good sometimes. Now, don’t over-do it, but I hear ya. It’s so satisfying to hate things and hear sympathy and find all the reasons to dislike stuff in life. That’s why most of us do it in big chunks. Some people hate everything a little bit over a long period of time. That sounds more exhausting and then you have to deal with annoying people asking you about it. Sometimes it’s just easiest to take a month or two or three or six to hate yourself and your life and the world and your job and your sneakers and your eyelashes and your wrists and your depression. Hate it. It’s not good. No one gets to tell you not to hate it. They will, but that’s stupid. Bad things are bad. No reason to pretend you love it ALL the time. Just, go in and do what you have to, if you want to do that, and then go home and cry into a pillow. Or make a major life change or see a therapist or… find something to do and move on. Maybe moving on from the familiar and comfortable (even the miserable, uncomfortable) is the hardest part. Be okay with not being okay and not being happy AND be okay with the pleasure you get from being unhappy. It sounds twisted and unappreciative, but you have to deal with stuff, and you are the one not enjoying it, and that’s a bummer. A huge bummer. Have emotions and own them!