And the Answer Is . . . , By Erica Wilkie

And the Answer Is . . .

On one of the surveys I recently filled out, one of the questions was “What is one thing you want to understand more?” (or something like that).  I didn’t answer it in the survey because I knew that would take quite a bit of thought.  I’m not even sure that I will be able to actually put in words what I’m thinking, but I’ll try.  I would like to understand people.  Now I realize that’s a very broad statement, so I’ll try to encapsulate it a bit.  Why are people mean?  Why are people bitter?  Why are people so self-focused?  I realize not all people are mean, bitter and self-focused.  But I’m sure we all know quite a few who are.  What is so frustrating (frustration comes from lack of understanding . . . hence, my wanting to understand.) is that these people assume that their attitudes, their behaviors, their actions don’t affect anyone else in the entire world.  Pure ignorance.  Even if you are a single person, with no children and no family to speak of, unless you’re a hermit who NEVER leaves your house, you do affect others.  In your daily life, you affect others, whether you’re aware of it or not.  Cashiers in the grocery store, co-workers, people you pass on the street, people you talk to on the phone.  How selfish can you actually be to think that the poison you’re spewing will not seep into anyone else’s life?  Everyone knows how good it feels to get a random smile from a stranger on the street.  A cheerful good morning from the McDonald’s cashier (even when you’re going on 5 hours of sleep and you’d give anything to NOT be driving to work at 6:30 in the morning).  Our lives intertwine with so many others on a daily basis; I think if people would stop for just a second before making that derogatory statement or that sarcastic comment or forgetting to say thank you or not smiling back at the stranger, so many people would benefit.  How many times have you left your house and been in a perfectly pleasant mood until you pass that ONE person in the grocery store, or on the street, or standing behind you in line, or the rude customer service rep on the phone and all of a sudden, you’re mood is sunk.  When did simple pleasantries become a thing of the past?  When did it become ok to be an asshole to whoever, whenever?  Where did common courtesy and respect for others go?  This is what I would like to understand.  “Misery loves company”?  How ’bout “do onto others.”

I realize there is another aspect of people I would like to understand and that is lack of responsibility.  It is the cancer of today’s society.  People are incapable of taking responsibility for themselves and their actions.  It’s really very sad because, again, it not only affects you, but the people around you.  Mainly the people directly involved in your life.  Really, what is so hard about saying you did something wrong?  What is so hard about telling somebody you’re sorry that you’ve hurt them, wronged them, betrayed them?  I admit, I’m not the best at saying I’m sorry.  I’m not the best at admitting I was wrong or that I’ve hurt somebody.  It’s a blow to the pride, no doubt.  But come on, at some point, you grow out of that.  At some point you HAVE to reach the level of maturity that allows you to stop planning your own personal pity party and deal with the fact that you’ve fucked up, and you need to fix it.  We can’t control other people’s feelings; this is sometimes a hard concept to face.  But, we can have an impact on people’s feelings.  Saying you’re sorry for a wrong you’ve committed, saying you understand that person is hurting and even though you might not be able to make it right, you understand, and you want to support them.  And then realizing the behavior that caused that wrong to happen in the first place.  Was I being selfish?  Was I just being oblivious?  Is this something I can prevent from happening in the future?  The human soul is resilient, but not impenetrable.  Words do hurt, and lack of words can also hurt.  When somebody has wronged you and they take no action to correct that wrong, that hurt and disregard can penetrate the soul.  It can make the wounded desensitized, therefore acting in disregard and causing more wounding, a vicious circle.  Everyone has had pain, in some form.  Maybe you were abused as a child, maybe you were completely ignored.  Maybe you were used, mistreated by friends, family, strangers.  We learn the things we live, but we’re not incapable of changing.  Why continue to punish other people for the pain you’ve experienced?  Why not, instead, reach out to people?  Why not look inside yourself, recognize your failures, your limitations?  It’s scary, no doubt.  It’s scary to think that you can disappoint you.  When you’ve felt so much disappointment from all others in your life, why would you then want to put yourself in a position to disappoint yourself?  I get that.  Is that what prevents people from taking responsibility?  Isn’t knowing that if you dig into all the shit you’ll eventually come out with a diamond worth hurting for a bit?  It’s so easy to blame everyone else.  It’s so easy to blame a dad who wasn’t around, or a mom who was abusive, or the first boyfriend who took advantage of you, or a best friend who betrayed you, or a spouse who left you.  I can take that pain, I can take those hurts and become a bitter, angry, broken human being who only wants to continue hurting others.  Or I can take that pain, I can take those hurts and learn from them.  Learn how not to repeat the pattern.  I can pretend I have no responsibility to change, but why?  At the end of the day, when all those you’ve hurt have left you, when all you have is yourself to deal with, what happens then?  When nobody trusts you anymore because you’ve lied, you’ve betrayed, you’ve destroyed, then what?  Who will you go to then?  When you’re whole life has revolved around you, and you’ve pushed everyone so far away that they couldn’t even reach you if they tried, what will you do?  A word of advice from one entirely imperfect person to another: fess up (to your wrongs), give up (control), let go (of all the past pains and hurts), and forgive (those who have wronged you).  People will not think you’re weak if you admit to your shortcomings, to your mistakes.  We all have them.  We are human and we are fallible and the strongest thing you can do is to BE fallible, but BE responsible.

Stop to see the amazing imperfections all around you.   Keep living, keep learning, keep loving. 

Thanks for reading.

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