One thing you can count on for sure is this: there are always going to be things in life that disappoint you. It may be a daily or occasional occurrence, but it’s guaranteed to happen. Bad people and bad situations happen to us all. No matter how good of a person you try to be, it’s impossible to escape life. And while it’s often said that you are the author of your own destiny, that destiny will include some unforeseen as well as some obvious pitfalls along the way.
As I grow older, I become more guarded. In my youth I was very social, so much so that my adult self barely recognizes the transformation. Life has a cruel way of beating us down. Whether we allow it to or not, we’re impacted and changed by many of life’s defining moments. I’ve had a history of trusting and caring for the wrong people. Friends, family, coworkers, you name it, I would blindly trust them even when their own actions and behavior made others think and do otherwise. I’d grown accustomed to believing, even as an adult, that accepting this was a part of life.
And even as I was taken advantage of and used, I blamed myself. I made myself believe that I must have done something wrong. Many of us make that mistake. We doubt who we are simply because of things that are outside of our control. The thing is, not everyone can be or wants to be saved. But the energy that it takes to hate the people or the situations that have wronged us, we can put that energy into something more rewarding.
Sure, being walked on is no fun, but neither is always being the victim. In my case, I decided that being more guarded was what worked best for me. I am far too trusting and as a result of that, I’ve been taken advantage of more times than I’d like to admit. What I’m not, however, is jaded by humanity. Yes, it’s easy to be. I have my moments, but I am now better able to cope with being disappointed by others and difficult situations. When we acknowledge and accept that bad things do happen to good people, we can use that understanding to prepare ourselves from the brute force of its full impact.
It’s impossible to fully insulate ourselves from life’s disappointments and pain. But what we can do is learn from it and allow it to improve the people that we are. I was recently wronged by someone in my life who I’d known for many years. That type of hurt runs deep. While I’m not allowing the pain to take a permanent hold over me, I’m mature enough to see it as another one of life’s gifts. It’s an opportunity to handle the situation in a better way, a way that has had the advantage of having been shaped by prior experiences. It does me little good to hate the person, to regret showing that person kindness, to, as they say, cry over spilled milk. Instead, I am appreciative of my ability to withstand adversity and in still being a kind person despite the heartache.
No matter how difficult life gets, how badly you’re treated, or how much disappointment you have to endure, take a few moments to put it into perspective. You’re going to have good days, exceptional days and horrific ones. We’re human, we’re not expected to take them all with a smile on our faces. What we need to do is learn from it and move forward. The only thing we can change about our pasts is how it will impact our present and future.
For some of us we must change how we approach situations in life. If we know that we’re too trusting and that we’re hardwired that way, then find productive ways to accommodate that. After all, sure, we’re not perfect, but there is beauty in our imperfections. Don’t allow what we perceive to be a flaw to cripple who we are. I don’t go around avoiding letting people in, I just know that when I do, I must be prepared for the good and the bad of the experience.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 3/26/14 issue of The Union-Recorder.