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31 January 2010 @ 08:15 pm
A conundrum  

There are times I want to say this to other people, but I try not to.  Because it's a piece of advice I have to constantly give myself, and when that's the case, you really don't want to get caught handing it out like a prescription, as though it were something you've mastered and were sure of.  But maybe it does need to be said, in a general sense.  So I'm saying it, with the caveat that I struggle with this myself.

Anyway, the maxim is this:  you have a choice.  You can inspire pity or envy.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and each is appropriate at different times.  But you can't inspire both at the same moment over the same issue.

In other words, if you have worked your ass off for years, and overcome mighty obstacles, and achieved a massive victory over a terrible problem... I'm sorry.  Most people aren't going to know how hard it was.  Most people aren't going to care.  And trying to defend it makes you look like a child or an asshole.

All they can see is the improved version of you, now.  And they, well, most people, are going to assume you've always had it together.

There is nothing you can do about that.  Let it go.  If someone asks, or if someone else needs defending, go ahead and speak up.  If you're volunteering information to help the cause you've fought for, do that.  If telling about your problems long ago helps other people, talk.  Talk all you want.  But pick your battles.  Don't get defensive every time someone assumes you don't know what it's like to have problems.  Because almost everybody is going to assume this.  And even if it were your personal responsibility to cure everybody's ignorance, it's a losing battle.  Focus on those who want their ignorance cured.

And know this:  having someone assume you've led an easy life, or that you came by some talent or ability or aspect of your personality without any work, is actually a compliment.  What they are saying is, "You make it look so easy!"  Take it as a compliment and let it go.

When you have a terrible problem that you can not defeat, it's okay to admit vulnerability and take pity or compassion or assistance.  It really is.  It really is.  ACCEPT the help you get from the fact that we as humans are social animals; nobody can survive their whole life on nothing but their own efforts, a lesson it's taken me so many years to learn.  You do have to ask sometimes, but people often really do want to help.  For those who never get past their problems, this post is not for you; lord knows I have my own little thorns and scars that I'll just never get past, that I'll always need help with.  This isn't about those.  This post isn't for the broken, it's for those who have surmounted something.

When you've achieved a huge victory, announced it to the world and gotten your applause, and then moved on... you have to let go of the pity you used to receive on the shoulders of that battle.  Some people, a very special, unique few, will recognize what you've been through in your life.  Cultivate and love them and appreciate them.  Try to do the same for others, always reckoning what dreadful efforts they've gone to in order to achieve what they have.  Never assume.  Always applaud even those who make it look easy, because you don't know how hard they worked to get where they are, because it's almost always harder than they made it look.

But when you DO win a battle, tell yourself firmly:  It is a far better thing that I won, than to have people constantly be made aware of how much it cost me.  Because it IS.  Even if it means you'll have to deal with the occasional moron who refuses to give you any credit.  And you can't have both, so pick the better one.  Take the risk of looking unreasonably awesome.

A lot of my life is spent teaching myself how to let people be people without letting it hurt me.  The above is one big part of that.

If you're reading this and thinking it's about you, you're probably wrong.  :)  I think the last time I wanted to say the above to someone was in regards to something that happened a couple of months ago, and it wasn't anybody who can see this.  It's just something that keeps striking me as being... well, useful.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Stars - Take Me To The Riot
soonest_mendedsoonest_mended on February 1st, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
I actually really needed to read this. Thank you.

This is a fantastic description of the line between "here, this can be done, I did it and here's how," and "this was so hard, and I carry it with me everywhere I go." There are applications here for life, relationships, and even fiction. (How many angsty, deeply-scarred protagonists could use a shot of this? MANY.)

Really, though, you make it look easy. ;)
Wiseacreewin on February 1st, 2010 02:07 am (UTC)
Really, though, you make it look easy. ;)

OH MY GAWD. *bursts into tears*

Just kidding. *loves you*

Edited at 2010-02-01 02:07 am (UTC)
Радаdigitalemur on February 1st, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
Lately I've been trying to be more conscious of trying to let people be people without letting them hurt me. Fighting against letting people be people just spends SO much energy and those other people just aren't going to change. And I like being around me a lot more, when I can just let people be people.
Wiseacreewin on February 1st, 2010 05:40 am (UTC)
*nod* Likewise... I find there's a definite symbiotic relationship between giving other people a break and giving myself one. :) And both make life easier.
Xander: Sun King Jimayakashi_fox on February 1st, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
::thumbs up::