I was on a fairly crowded train and I noticed a young girl sitting down with earphones on. Tears began to trickle down her face. Everyone was talking or playing on their phones. I was caught off-guard and wished I had a tissue to offer her. She probably didn’t realize anyone had noticed or was too zoned out to care.
It made me sad, and I started wondering if people pay attention to what’s going on around them. The faraway look of sadness, the quiet agony, the worrying frown, and the obvious stress etched on someone’s face.
We are burdened by internal wars or distracted by trivialities. Or we may hold people at arm’s length. And some follow the sheep. There is this disconnect between what we feel for someone and how involved we chose to be. We can be flawed in our quest for human connection.
Some people question kindness. They are suspicious of it. Affection might be rare to come by. Perhaps it was cloaked in wolf’s clothing. I am guilty of questioning and picking apart people’s motives in my head.
I’ve been there, the girl sitting on the train, crying silently. My face is down and the tears sneak up on me and I pretend I’m in a bubble no one can see.
I know what kindness is. I know how to extend it towards others. But I choose to keep this impenetrable wall up and seal myself in.
With my sadness exposed, I feel weak. I internalize more than I let out. But when I see others cry, I don’t find them to be weak at all. I find them to be brave. I recognize this contradiction in myself.
If people stopped holding so much inside, would there be less sorrow in this world?
I believe it comes from knowing yourself and figuring out why you are the way you are. To pinpoint where this sorrow derives from.
Everyone carries around emotional baggage, filled with struggles, fears, trauma, insecurities and hopelessness, just gnawing at the pit of your stomach.
But we’re not always aware of it. Or we try to contain it.
Our issues further impact the next person we become entangled with. Or a potential connection is ignored because we’re scared. It reflects back onto ourselves causing further damage, cycles back around and creates a negative domino effect.
Everyone falls, but we don’t know how to pick each other up. We dust ourselves off and keep going, but don’t take the time to understand why we fell. Or why we want, think, feel, or say the things that we do.
So I became introspective.
Since I was a kid, I never desired a white picket fence, a princess wedding or any children of my own. But I always knew I wanted love. It would be an uncomplicated love to nourish me. With love you can climb the highest mountains, conquer the fiercest demons and shine brighter than the rarest jewels. At least that’s what they say. I wanted this in my life to make up for everything else.
I believed if I was a genuine human being and acted on good intentions, I would only invite like-minded folk into my inner circle. If someone pursued me, it meant they wanted and valued the same things. Or did it?
I wasn’t mentally equipped to understand the way people really work.
Our lives are not this linear. We are made to be broken and put back together again.
I categorized things as “good” vs “bad”. Or “positive” vs “negative”. And “wrong” vs “right”.
You can be too nice and be taken advantage of. Emotional vampires will feed. Wearing your heart on your sleeve and licking your wounds, imagining you would be the exception to the gloom. Confidence and trust is eroded.
Others become self-absorbed, consumed by their own fairy tale of how things should be, forcing people to fit a mold and lacking true vulnerable connections.
Some worry themselves to death about what could go wrong and set up the pieces for everything to come crashing down, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“Me” vs “Them”
This is what I believed.
I backed myself into this corner, choosing to be “good” to everyone even if it meant destroying the parts of me that made it so.
The incessant questions:
Who determines what is good or right? What constitutes as being bad? Is it when you give up on yourself and everyone else?
Is it wrong if I mess up? Should I stop doing what other people tell me? Does this make me a selfish person? Or does it make me realistic?
The wall was created. I felt like I was “bad” for being somewhat anti-social, overly critical, harder on myself and taking life too seriously.
It wasn’t any different from trying to be “good” all the time. It was just as exhausting. And I was imparting this energy into the world, impacting myself and others.
I held onto self-hate like a protective blanket. Tears of sorrow turned into shame and frustration. I couldn’t trust myself to bring genuine people into my life.
I turned my back on love.. and it found me.
There is a grey area and a balance to strive for. Live outside of the box and walk your own path.
I tell myself to observe closer, dig deeper and try to pay attention to the obvious signs in front of me. Not the feelings fueling the actions behind it.
Emotions are created from messy circumstances. They are fleeting. They are hungry. And they weigh heavy on our shoulders.
Focus on action. Watch for consistency. Love passionately, not blindly. Trust with fair skepticism.
Sometimes we take it as a test of our strength. We stand by our decisions because we can’t fathom making a mistake, choosing the wrong side. Clinging onto a semblance of maybes and what ifs to keep it together.
What we fail to see is this in itself is still a choice.
We all have our stories, but we’re not character archetypes. There is no best way to exist, or to act, or to feel. It’s merely an opinion we’ve become trapped in.
I am a compilation of experiences, shaping me as I am. I know my strengths and accept my weaknesses. I am flawed.
The path is lonelier in some ways but there is less melancholy. I cherish what I have, because I know how much worse it could be.
There are others out there struggling to find their way. You wish them the best. You can’t save anyone, the changes must come from within.
I’ve made steps outside of my wall, but it still exist. Finding reciprocated love allowed me to believe in it again.
But even more than that, understanding I wouldn’t settle for less and coming to terms with my own faults gave me the balance I needed to start to like myself.
Only now do I see how important this is.