Real Life Villains

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Photo credit: JD Hancock via Foter.com / CC BY

You really don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. Wrap your mind around that sentence.

I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster ride. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the past five months have been the most challenging work situation I’ve ever had. I’m not going to go into specifics, nor would anyone really care to hear them. Let’s just keep it simple and say that I found myself in a job that is ill-suited to my skill set and personality. On top of that, I have an antagonist mixed into the situation. I can’t just quit (financial reasons) and finding another job has also been a challenge.

I’ve been trying to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective. Turns out, trying to see things my adversary’s way was helpful, but not nearly as helpful as an outsider’s fresh look on things.

There’s a nice piece of advice for fiction writers that has always helped me with my stories. It is this: Everyone is the hero of their own story. For writers, this means that your villain should not be evil for the sake of being evil. He or she won’t see themselves as the villain, even while committing evil acts. In fact, he or she may feel justified by what they do.

Everyone is the hero of their own story. This phrase can also be used in the real world. Think of your biggest adversary. From your perspective, they are bad people who only wish to make your life more difficult or to stand as an obstacle to your goals and dreams. It’s easy to paint them as awful human beings.

My adversary’s actions often made me an emotional mess. I was angry, frustrated, sad, and hopeless. And then suddenly, I saw the circumstances beyond us both. I saw what this adversary was going through. This wasn’t a walk in the park for either of us. And when I have better focus on the whole of it, I realize that my adversary has it worse.

Now, I’m full of pity instead of anger. It was like a switch went off and my anger was replaced with compassion.

It’s so hard to see beyond ourselves in the heat of emotion. When you’re caught up in the storm, it’s hard to know whether you’re in a hurricane or a tornado. So zoom out. And you might find that your tornado is nothing compared to that giant hurricane along someone else’s shore. This is all easier said than done. I was cemented in place by my own negativity. It took me five months to finally see beyond myself in this storm.

A friend let me in on some information that changed my perspective entirely. It doesn’t fix my immediate problems. But I feel strong. Less weathered. I feel like the lucky one in this.

When emotions spin out of control, it’s easy to burn the bridge without considering the real consequences. So don’t use your adversary as an excuse to act out. Don’t let yourself become the villain. Take a step back. Realize that you can be the hero. But just because you’re the hero doesn’t mean that they are the villain. Even when they might act it out well.

All of us have been the villain at some point or another. Once you realize that, you can move beyond it. You can have better perspective. And perhaps you can be merciful to those who have wronged you. Even if they don’t deserve it.

In the end, it’s a wonderful twist of fate that we don’t get exactly what we deserve. Grace is a mysterious gift. And we could all use more of it in our lives.

Now that I know what I know, I find myself more merciful than vengeful. Life is a crazy ride indeed.

 

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Lest I Become Like Them

 

Photo credit: Baalel / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

To be heard. To be loved. All of us want that even if we don’t recognize it on a conscious level. When deprived, kids can act out or get involved in various levels of self-destruction. Adults can be much worse.

Loneliness drives people to do strange things. Without love, we cannot survive. We self-destruct and feel unworthy of reciprocal love, and sometimes we never understand why.

I think it’s hard to find a listening and caring ear. Most people are so self-absorbed that they can’t get past themselves to reach a deeper level in a relationship with others.

We’ve become impersonal. Distant. Closed off. No longer human. If I reach someone on a human level, would they reach back? Tell me we’re not lost and destroyed by the technology of our own making. It makes me sad to see cell phones become as attached as a limb. Especially while good company walks along right next to you. I need some hope. Some truth. Some humanity. Lest I become like them.

But I am like them. I have the same faults, sometimes the same dreams, and always, that thin veil of humanity that so easily tears. Why is transparency such a hard concept? Why is it so hard to be the person we are born as? None of us were meant to live as someone else. And if we spend all of our time pretending to be someone else, we inevitably end up following the life path of someone else. So we’re not happy because we’re not living the life we really dream of.

The sad thing is that so often, we don’t even realize that we are “them.” It’s the whole “us-versus-them” thing. There is no them. Just us. We are all on the same plane, even if we’re playing by different rules.

I’ve always considered myself a very real person. I don’t try to make myself seem like something I’m not. Unfortunately, that sometimes leads to saying nothing at all and not revealing who I really am, especially to new people. It’s like I’m afraid to reveal who I am because I’m afraid I’ll be taken as something I’m not. I’m just as fake as the rest of us.

When I should be gentle, I’m indifferent. When I long to cry, I put on a tough face until I can escape to a dark bedroom to let the real emotions out. I just don’t understand why emotions are considered so bad that we’re encouraged to hide them. Hiding emotions hides our humanity. We weren’t meant to be robots. We are human. And sometimes, humans cry. Sometimes they are angry. And you know what? That’s okay.

There really isn’t anything wrong with being angry. Anger itself is not the problem. It is how we let the anger shape us. If we let it take control, we’re in deep. But if we use it constructively, we can change the wrongs we see in the world.

So let’s stop this masquerade. Let’s be human together. Open. Honest. Human.

 

 

Photo credit: Baalel / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)