Another rambling introspective on what else but myself…
I promised myself I would live according to the principle of acceptance. No more comparisons with others. No more stubbornness, because “it shouldn’t have to be that way,” as if that justified a freak-out. It’s hard, because I have a strong sense of toddler-justice, flaring up at the sight of anything “that’s not fair!,” even when viewing situations that have nothing to do with me.
I can’t help rooting for the underdogs, and as I have nothing to lose at work, being too valuable (hard as that may be to believe), I can get away with championing the causes of the most downtrodden employees or taking on the blame for things myself.
Therefore, the principle of acceptance doesn’t extend to accepting the miserable situation of other people. Yet for myself, I have learned that meltdowns achieve precisely nothing. Do I have much luck advocating for others? I’m not sure. Maybe I buy them time. Or maybe I just buy myself the satisfaction of voluntary martyrdom. Either way, when you accept the smackdowns, either your own or those on behalf of others, you earn more credibility than if you whine constantly.
I used to cry and throw tantrums about everything. Sometimes I got what I wanted, sometimes I got slapped down. But the returns are diminishing, and after I had a public meltdown in which I humiliated myself in the most selfish way imaginable, not being the main victim of the situation yet making it all about me, I realized that I needed to change my ways. The best thing to do is stay calm, clench your teeth to keep your chin from quivering if you must, and tell yourself that you’re fine but others are not, so act accordingly.
I can’t stand it when I fail to do something because I forgot (I can’t help it, my seizure medication makes me forgetful), and someone will say, “Well you need to remember!” or “Well you can’t forget!,” or I fail because of the limitations created by my epilepsy or the meds for it, “That’s not an excuse!” or “At your age, you should really be doing X already!”
I used to be like that towards other people. Horribly judgmental and completely unforgiving. I was a straight-A student in college, Summa Cum Laude, honor societies, medals, awards. My portrait in college yearbook (which I didn’t buy, because I couldn’t have cared less about the rest of the student population besides myself, although I still feel the same way truthfully) displays a small, smug smile, almost a sneer, really.
I had everything and every reason to expect a bright, easy future. Well, it didn’t turn out that way, and small adversities proved insurmountable because I had never been really challenged before in my life. The smallest obstacle was a roadblock. Fast forward, and I’ve been working in retail at a local department store for the last ten years. The story of how I got from then to now is too long to take the detour to explain, so that’s for another day.
In my last post, I talked about how undiagnosed epilepsy affected my life greatly and negatively. No need to rehash except to say that it resulted in a loss of comprehension and memory. So for years I’ve abused myself because I’m not the way I was in college. I can’t do the same things now cognitively.
As hard as it was to realize, acceptance of responsibility for past behavior, acceptance of my cognitive abilities, has led to more inner peace than I experienced previously. In constant emotional turmoil, all I did was make myself sick and miserable and made all the people closest to me sick and miserable.
There is no use in comparing yourself to other people. It is the death of happiness. The past me may as well be a different person. Saying to myself, “I shouldn’t be doing this job, I am entitled to better” doesn’t make me happy or productive.
I’ve never half-assed my job (most of the time I don’t, anyway), but I’ve spent years being bitter and believing I’m above it. Well, no one is above anything. Jesus was not above being born in a barn or dying a criminal’s death, and therefore none of us are above anything. If we don’t possess enough natural goodness to recognize these things, circumstances will teach us the hard way when we are knocked down from our high places.
I am still an arrogant person at heart, and I often catch myself judging people, when any one of them might turn and say, “Why, look at your student loan debt, you big loser! How’s that fancy degree helping you pay it back?” Well, clearly it isn’t, judging by the fact I owe more than I borrowed.
If a forgetful one puts the carton of milk on top of the fridge and leaves the bowl of dry cereal in the bathroom, one can’t very well get on one’s high-horse with other people, can one? (See, I used to write my papers like that.)
My acceptance of my current state of things has relieved at least eighty percent of my unhappiness. Yes, I’m clearly still bitter, and part of my old self is probably secretly plotting a comeback so I can lord it over people again, but it’s such an ugly trait that I don’t even want to be like that anymore.
Can people change? I’m cynical and when I hear a story about how someone “turned their life around,” I inwardly scoff, because I don’t believe it, I figure it’s only a matter of time… But that’s not really fair, is it? Is it only that I decided I can’t change, ergo no one else can either?
The best advice I can offer is, if we can’t change our nature, then we can at least change our behaviors and make conscious efforts to do the right thing. Even if we had to struggle to do things other people do without thinking about it, at least we did it.
This post went off on a tangent from the very start, once again, and still I haven’t said what I wanted to say about accepting the facts of our life and the mistakes we’ve made and how this isn’t meant to be a dwelling upon misery. I really did have something constructive to say about this process but there’s no way to get from here to there without slogging through the middle.
A hurricane approaches, my workplace is closed, and I’d much rather read about you right now, so talk about yourself.