We all know those morons that will go the extra length to be absolutely awful to everyone possible. Today a woman on Facebook had just lost her pet cat. She wanted to give it a good burial and asked for guidance. Some of the insensitive comments I read made me furious to say the least. I have been through the pain of losing a pet a few times and if I had heard such awful comments from people then, I would have probably hunted them down and hurt them very badly. I mean poking their eyes with toothpicks repeatedly and pulling their nails off their fingers with a plier kind of pain. Yes, I can be very imaginative. Or so I like to tell myself. This woman read these comments calmly and did not respond to them at all and over time these people got targeted by good people (myself included). They were bullied into being sensitive and were chided for their behaviour.
This took me back to a conversation I was having with my friend. He said that we shouldn’t pay attention to the perspective someone else has of us but I disagreed because I had two reasons. One being that people always look for the good in someone first and only after prolonged exposure to you can they gauge what is bad in you. My second reason is that we should never stop improving and if the person is pointing out behaviour within you that you agree is not good, we can always work to change it. I went through a really difficult time between the ages of 16 to 19 where I was constantly at war with people around me. I believed I was someone and I stuck to my guns but those were not the right guns to hold on to. I began to listen to other perspectives and moulded myself. Life did not become rosy but I became more approachable and a lot more easy going. I also began to shift my own perspectives regarding myself and I definitely loved myself a lot more for it.
People can be genuine asses but humans are very selective in their memories. They would rather remember the negative memories than the positive even if the positive outnumber the negative. At the same time we would rather look for the good in everything. Even bad people do bad things with good intentions…. Generally. No one ever outwardly ever agrees that they are bad people because they always have a justification for their behavior. Perspectives on the behaviour are all that matters. I don’t know what I’m getting at honestly, but what I know I believe is that we are all good. As clichéd as it sounds I think I would find it really hard to live in this world if I didn’t believe that people are inherently good. Innocence may fade but the goodness remains in us all.
An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there’s a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It’s anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It’s joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness and truth.” The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”. The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”
I’ve never been one to believe in love. I’ve never been the girl who looked at sappy Disney movies and dressed up like a princess to find her prince. I hate buying into the cheesiness in a movie. I despise Valentine’s Day because I find it a bogus marketing scheme. I used to rant and rave that all the sappy stories girls were fed growing up was to convince women that our place was at home taking care of men. I claimed it was a way to feed into the belief that only delicate and homely women find ‘love’. I spend my family weddings fuming at the deceit that the bride goes through. In most cases I find women throwing away their lives for the sake of the happiness of their family and what they think are their happiness.
I have been watching sister after sister binding themselves to ties that bring with them a wave of change into their lives. I’ve seen the most reluctant individuals get swept up into ‘love’ and seen them blush and glow. I look at it with utter distaste but also with complete wonder. It is a strange experience to watch people change. You feel like the same person but the person you are interacting with no longer behaves the same way. There is composure in their dealings and a deep understanding of people when they interact with others. There is softness to their looks that wasn’t there before and a touch to their voice I don’t quite understand.
The most recent wedding in my family was possibly the most alarming story for me to digest. A girl whose entire life till now was spent dreaming about her wedding was suddenly asked to give up everything she had ever imagined for a boy she had never met. He claimed he wanted no part of the big beautiful wedding she had dreamt of and decided to compromise with a small, no glamour and absolutely no clamour 2 day wedding. Stubborn, quick to anger and sharp with his tongue he was, so my sister decided to make her parents happy and marry the man in whatever way he found acceptable. She accepted her fate and in those few moments that she took to make peace with herself, her demeanor changed slightly and it continued to do so until those final steps she took when she was finally married. Experience teaches me that in the coming few months I will no longer recognize my sprightly, annoying, bright and very loud sister. She will change and she will take on a whole new identity. Will it be for the better? That’s what everyone tells me to believe. Will I accept it? Probably not and that is because I love her way she is.
But there are always those individuals that give me hope. The ones that persevere through the changes they face and come out as truly stronger individuals. Another sister of mine was married off in a beautiful whirlwind marriage and was whisked away to America to live with her husband. Over the next few months what I saw were remarkable changes but also, I saw the sister that I love grow into a bigger person. I saw her grow into a very understanding, loving, accommodating and passionate person. I also grew to admire her because her spirit did not change, it merely grew different. She did not become meek, instead she became more cemented in her own form. She did not merely accept, but she took charge. She became into a person with more potential to achieve what she wanted than before. She was one that resisted love but now she is showered in love by a husband who truly adores her. When I think about her and the few others that I see that have flourished under ‘marriage’ and ‘love’, I feel hope for the others that I feel are buried beneath them.
This hope is strong within me for those that come from a prosperous background but for those who have minimal education, self-belief or social standing my hope dwindles. The brides give up their bodies, their hopes, their self-esteem and many times their minds for various reasons. Loveless marriages and abusive husbands lead to unhappy children who in turn fall into terrible marriages. It’s a toxic cycle and one that exists. When you have no life to live, you lose out on everything to whatever little remains. I am trying hard to end this on a positive note but the truth is that there is very little positivity that I see for a vast majority of people. Our society is not built to be very tolerant to strong women. If they have luck on their sides then they flourish, if they don’t, they fall from terrible heights. It is because of these factors that women cower behind the facades that they put up and give up everything so easily.
But happiness can be found through acceptance. Acceptance gives you the strength to either grow bigger or become smaller according to what is right for your situation. Accepting your fate is the hard part and what comes after that is more fluid and easier to manage. We just have to be aware of what parts we are accepting and what we are not ready to and that’s what makes women truly strong because when you know the value of what you give up, you make sure that what you fight for is really worth the trouble.
I have to say that the single most important lesson I learned in 25 years talking every single day to people was that there is a common denominator in our human experience. Most of us, I tell ya, we don’t want to be divided. What we want—the common denominator that I found in every single interview—is that we want to be validated. We want to be understood.
I’ve done over 35,000 interviews in my career, and as soon as that camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and inevitably in their own way ask this question: “was that ok?”
I heard it from President Bush. I heard it from President Obama. I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives. I’ve heard it from victims and perpetrators of crime. I even heard it from BE-YON-CÉ in all of her Beyoncé-ness. She finishes performing, hands me the microphone, and says “was that ok?” [x]
Super interesting and cool to think about.
Validation is the most intrinsic quality in every human. Children exhibit this from a young age but the question we need to worry about is whether this is something good or bad. It helps to nurture children into conformists that think in lines of what others say about them.
But this is not something that will be easy to change in anyone. No matter how young.
World Social Work Day. The International Federation of Social Workers invites social workers all over the world to celebrate World Social Work Day today with the theme “Social and Economic Crises—Social Work Solutions.” To celebrate with them, and acknowledge the IFSW for all their efforts worldwide, OUP has made a special Social Work Month hub of free content. Have a look and keep more social work posts from our Tumblr this month.
Inculcating this habit really uplifts everyday living not just for you but everyone around you! :D