Thursday, October 30, 2014

I'm Done With It (Part 4)

3) Hate

Hate is an interesting concept. Everyone assumes hate is unhealthy for you, and being hated is the end of the world, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, the only way to make changes in the world is to get a few people angry.

I had a conversation with my dad the other day (actually, it was more like him yelling at me while I silently made rebuttals in my head), on the topic of liberal arts vs. science. To him, I am badly suited to a career in the liberal arts (I plan on majoring in public policy) because things that I say or do make people angry, and that means I won't be able to make the connections I need when I try to advance myself in the field. He said that it would be better for me to work in the sciences, as an engineer, because I wouldn't be fired if I wasn't nice. To be honest, I don't think I'm someone who easily offends people or breaks connections, but that's besides the point. The way I see it, it's impossible to succeed in the liberal arts without challenging a theory or coming up with something controversial and new. If all people did was to agree with one another, politics itself simply wouldn't exist.

The most controversial figures, the ones that attract the most hate, are the ones that make the largest impact. Martin Luther King, Jr. angered plenty of people, but his efforts helped change a nation for the better. Malala Yousafzai's work as an advocate for education caused her to be shot in the head, but she survived and inspired millions.

Even science attracts hate. Proponents of climate change are often verbally attacked and denounced for their theories, regardless of how much evidence they present. This post was inspired by Derek Muller of Youtube channel Veritasium (a very interesting science channel that I strongly recommend), who posted this following video on his side channel. He explains more on the topic of hate, and it really made me think about what it means when someone disagrees.

4) Being Happy

Recently the CPS worker came back to meet with me again and notify me that my case was closing soon. However, she still wanted get me something for Christmas, an item up to $200, as was standard for such incidents. In that moment, I couldn't think of a single thing that I wanted. In retrospect, I could have asked for a camera or new iPod, because one of those could make future media projects a lot more convenient, but at the time, all I really wanted was to be happy.

After she left, I sat on my bed for quite a while and thought it over, "What does it mean to be happy?" I've concluded that for me, it's not about a giant house or twenty cars or any other material items, it's about experiences. The essence of life is a collection of little moments. Someday, I think I could travel and experience the world at its best, and pursue my hobbies when I have the financial independence, but it just isn't going to happen right now. I can do my best to keep up with friends and feel the rush of enjoying clothes and makeup and gossip, but that just isn't what I really want. I am an introvert, and my needs are different from the majority. It's a concept that must be explored in depth, but now is not quite the time.

I used to fear death. In elementary school, I'd talk to my best friend at the time and have extremely philosophical conversations on why the wind blew. I thought it was because the air stayed in one place while the planet spun around, and she said it was because the existing wind moved the trees back and forth, creating more wind to make the trees wave more. In middle school we learned that it was because the sun heated up the earth unevenly due to the angle, causing changes in density from place to place, and suddenly the wind wasn't so magical anymore.

So then I wondered, "Is it better to live a happy, materialistic life, or to be remembered through the ages for the pain and sacrifices one had to make in order to achieve greatness." There was a time when I would have answered the latter, but now I've realized that the former is more important, though happiness is not simply materialistic. I used to fear death, and serial killers, and drowning – things that would send me into an eternal void where I knew nothing, and nothing would ever happen again. But I see things differently now. When I die, my atoms will be reincarnated physically into the earth – the soil and the air – and eventually, perhaps the atoms responsible for my consciousness will be remade into a bird, so I may fly through the air.

I think of Van Gogh, who died penniless and alone. They say he ate yellow paint because he thought it could make him happy on the inside, because yellow is a happy color. Van Gogh just wanted to be happy, and it's so sad that he could not. Maybe that's why I eat sugar packets, so the sweetness can get inside me and make me think sweet thoughts. I just want to be happy.

I decided to learn from the people who made me happy, because if I could make others happy, that would make me happy as well. I racked my brain trying to remember the nice words they said, or the nice things they did, but found it hard to come up with an example. I suddenly dawned on me that it didn't matter what they said – no one can remember that – it was the way they made me feel. The best feeling in the world is to feel appreciated and worth someone's time, because time is a gift that can never be taken back.

But this also goes for self love. I need to stop wasting my time trying to get my parents to like me, because it's never going to happen. No matter what I do, it's never going to be good enough for them. And that's bullshit. Because now, even when everyone is telling me that I should be proud of my accomplishments, I feel worthless. The things they say to me make me feel worthless. And that's not ok, no matter what they really think but aren't telling me (or so they say).

It doesn't matter how many good intentions they have. Good intentions do not equal good results. In fact, right now in English I'm reading a book called One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It's about a group of patients in a mental health hospital who are under the control of a woman named Nurse Ratched. She "weakens her patients through a psychologically manipulative program designed to destroy their self-esteem" according to Sparknotes, yet she always says that the actions are for the good of the patients. We had a student teacher come in one day; we were asked to write a thesis on whether Nurse Ratched is a good nurse or not. I wrote, "Yes, she was because she said she had good intentions," but just about everyone else answered "no".

This scares me. Having been at a "psychological hospital" before, it's astounding to see that this kind of treatment is happening at home. More than anything, even if I recognize that my parent's behavior is damaging right now, it might make me more vulnerable to accepting future abusive relations. Sometimes, I just need to remember that it's important to not just look at the good in people; I have to remember to take things at face value and see it for what it is. It doesn't matter if someone says they love you or pays for your survival, if they are hurting you, you have a right to feel uncomfortable or angry.

It's not my responsibility to keep them happy. I have to put myself first. I can't make them happy, so I don't care about making them happy anymore. I can't fall deeper into their trick, the trap, the hole. They might have good intentions, but it doesn't matter if what they're doing is destroying me. I will stop fighting against them, but I'll never stop fighting for myself. I respect myself enough to not accept that kind of treatment anymore. This has been working for me, and it's lifted a ginormous weight from my shoulders. I am not to blame for their unhappiness. It is not my responsibility to make them happy.

Youtuber Shane Dawson is in no way an expert on the matter; he has actually made some quite offensive material in the past. In fact, I do not agree with his sense of humor at all, but this video on "haters" is actually quite thought provoking.  It's worth a watch if you have the time.

Back to self love, the more time I spend appreciating myself and my accomplishments, the more motivated I feel. Really, it's fake it till you make it. It looks egotistical, and it sure feels conceited, but after a while, I've found that it helps me not to be mired in a state of self despair, thinking, "No, I'm horrible, and I can't do it." And if I ever find myself in a situation where I am completely and utterly alone for some reason, at least I can feel self confident enough to change my life and get to a better place. But for now, all I can do is keep myself happy when I can, and lean on my friends when things get tougher. I do worry that I'm being too self-centered and whiny sometimes, but I'm working on finding a balance and I feel like I'm getting there.

I am still unsure if my point of view is right; this constant conflict has destroyed my self confidence and ability to trust people, and I don't know how to get it back. I just want to be happy. Yet there's also a certain preset in society that you need to be happy or there is something wrong with you. But how can people ever be truly happy when life itself is so depressing. Even when you're feeling happy personally, there are so many problems in the world. People are killing each other, sexism and racism still somehow exist, and sometimes you just look at it all and say, "What the fuck is going on? It all seems so wrong! Can I just wake up and pretend this was all a bad dream and the world is actually wonderful?"

Eventually I may forgive, but not forget. Or I might forget, but I won't both forgive and forget the things they've done. I see a lot of quotes about forgiveness saying, "do it to let go and move on," but I don't need to forgive them to feel free of the "burden." I can feel angry at what they have done, and I can put aside of the anger without forgiving. I can push these things to the back of my mind and not care at all anymore, and not let it affect me. Unless they change their ways in a very drastic manner, they deserve not to have the satisfaction of my forgiveness that makes them absolved of all the horrible things they've done.

I wish I had a stronger conclusion, but that's really I have to say. Bottom line is, if someone does not appreciate you, says you're a burden on them, or makes you feel inadequate and worthless, you do not need to care about them anymore. The only happiness you are responsible for is your own, and that comes before anything else. ◊

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