I have a lot of flaws. I am not the worst person in the world. I don’t murder people, I don’t enslave others, I have never raped anyone. I don’t steal. But sometimes I lie to myself, exaggerate or overlook certain truths.
It is okay if my boyfriend makes a racist comment, because he is just joking. It is okay if I nod my head and agree someone I like is being “a bit bitchy.” Even if I don’t agree, even if I want to stand up and tell them to fuck off, I might go along with it so I don’t cause a scene, make a big deal out of something that is a passing comment.
But sometimes the comments don’t pass. They build up. They become these huge monsters and I am lost in a prison of my own making. When I do decide to speak up, I am told “well this is weird. You never had a problem with this before.”
Part of it stems from early bullying. That is not an excuse, I know. But for the longest time I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be the one to fade into the background. So I would say I liked something that I didn’t, or laugh at a joke I didn’t find funny. I watched programs I had no interest in, or denied watching others. I would never have admitted to liking X-men or Transformers in elementary school. I would never have told them I liked playing soccer or hanging out with my mother.
By the time middle school came around, I was better. I started to develop my own interests. I didn’t cower when asked what I enjoyed doing. I could openly admit to liking superheroes, comic books, and anime. I could cultivate a sense of who I was. But I began this rather bad habit. To make people ignore my faults, I would focus on a “common enemy.”
It could be someone my group disliked. Or I would invent someone. I would focus on talking about how horrible X was. I would say something witty about how stupid they were. It would make people laugh and I would be accepted into the group as the “hilarious friend.” This trend continued through high school and into college.
I would never say it to anyone’s face. It would stay between my friends. I didn’t recognize it as a flaw until just this year, when my life spiraled out of control and I started to lose people I cared about. To make my boyfriend happy, I would ignore his comments. To make myself seem cooler, I would talk about someone who had done the “stupidest thing I had ever seen.” It could be the mother who would not discipline her child, the heavy girl in the tight pants, the “wannabe” rapper on YouTube. When I ran out of interesting things to say, I would fall into the habit of “at least I am not as bad as [so-and-so] right?”
At least I am not as fat as that girl.
At least I am not as lonely as that guy.
At least I have more class than that woman.
Wow, look at the way she dresses. Look at how bad her hair is.
I became someone I disliked, someone that others would not respect. And my friends told me that it was okay, because those people “are stupid and not worth your time.”
Now, I realize, that all this fear, this self-loathing, this dangerous thinking is causing me to hate myself more. It does not make me happy to sit around and resent others. It does not make me cool to make pithy statements about people I don’t know.
I am not saying that people should not make unhappy statements, that every form of complaining is bad. I am saying, that for me, these comments make me less of a person, less of myself. I have turned into a bitter, unhappy person. I am one of those girls I used to hate in high school, who thought their opinion on my life was more important than my own.
I have become the bully.
In my attempt to be accepted, to become happy, I have stumbled.
I don’t have to call someone ugly to make myself pretty. I do not have to focus on others looks to be happy with my own body. I don’t need to make my life about being “better than others.” I have to make it about being a better version of myself, content, moral, and just.
So now, looking back at the wasted years, I have come to the conclusion that things need to change. I need to change. I need to remember who I wanted to be, who I desire to be. I need to be the best I am.
I can complain, when someone does something to me. I can dislike people. I just cannot make it my mission to focus on that hatred, insecurity, and childhood reasoning. It is not okay and I am not okay with it.
The next step is relearning how to think better of people. And that is a journey in itself.