To Be Cynical is to be Human

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.”

― Mike Royko

We are living in the age of positivity. We are living by the rule of mind over matter and the fight fight fight for hope and optimism. We are walking around smiling, hoping, and telling ourselves and everyone we know that it’s all going to be all right, and it’s exhausting.

Yeah, it’s nice to always be positive. I am always trying to be positive too, but honestly, expecting to live a life where you wake up every day full of optimism is not going to end in anything but disappointment. You can’t do it every day.

It’s good to see the best in people, and it’s good not to be blind to the worst. It’s good to know you can make a difference and it’s ok to be exhausted and infuriated by how hard it is. It’s ok to see all the pain of the past and worry that we’ll go on repeating ourselves into the future. It’s ok to have a less than perfect view of our future, and it’s ok to feel overwhelmed and discouraged too.

And yeah, it’s nice to want to change the world for the better every day. I want to do that too but honestly, sometimes I want to step back and just worry about myself for a while too. Expecting to give yourself day in and day out to other people without ever wanting to give up or give in lead directly to exhaustion and disappointment too.

The fact is, no person can sustain one emotion or one way of feeling or expressing themselves forever. We do our best to keep to the middle when we can but often before we can recognize it, let alone stop it, we are swinging wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other. This is normal. This is okay. Being positive all the time sounds nice, but that does not mean it is the best way or the healthiest way to live. It might not be the right way for most people. And that is okay.

We all want to believe the best of the world, and every day so many of us are fighting to make the belief into a reality, but sometimes we have to take a break. Sometimes we just have to be real with ourselves. The world is shitty, people are shitty, and the whole damn system is set up so that you have to work so damn hard just to feel like you aren’t going to your grave feeling useless and forgotten. It’s a hard life. It’s unfair, and it hurts, and no amount of positivity changes that for everyone. I might not even change it for you.

Here at Zen and Pi, I advocate for feeling the full spectrum of human emotion in ways that are heathy for each individual. That means sometimes being angry, sad, and yes, even cynical. Sometimes, because we are human, no matter how hard we try we want to feel bad, and we want to express that too. Sometimes we are mean, or indifferent, or unforgiving. Sometimes we just can’t be the bigger person. It’s understandable! We are hopelessly flawed. It’s okay!

They say cynics can’t learn, can’t grow, can’t change or help anything or anyone, and maybe that is true, but the perpetually positive are just as blind and stunted if you ask me. Each one lives with only half the story, half the human experience. Each condemns the other, and both are fools.

To be human is to hope, and to be human is to be hopeless too. Both stem from having an accurate view of the world and the people inhabiting it.

So, this week, if you can’t always smile, say nice things, pay it forward, or let it all slide, it’s ok. Do your best and fuck the rest, you know?

I know I’ve had a pretty hard time keeping my chin up, putting one foot in front of the other, and smiling while the world seems to be burning all around me. There is so much going wrong in the world, and there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot we can do about it right now. Some days I’m pissed! I’m disappointed! I’m fucking tired! And I’m going to be, off and on, forever because that’s what people do.

So, I’m buckling in and turning on my frown y’all. I may have to sit through this, but I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to be chipper, and I do not have to start every morning with telling myself that it’s all down to my attitude because sometimes that is nothing but a dirty lie and here at Zen and Pi we do not lie to ourselves.

I’m not saying give up hope. I’m not saying give up the fight. I’m not saying happiness is impossible or that real change will never happen. I’m just saying it’s ok to let your cynical flag fly because the world is a shitty place sometimes and being a human is hard. It’s ok to be less than enthusiastic about society and human potential at the moment. We are all disappointed, still, and we will be for a long time. Let it out. Express it, share it, and don’t feel bad or apologize for it.

Give yourself permission to be a Negative Nancy if you need to until you don’t need to. Don’t let the world tell you how to feel about whatever you are going through. Don’t let the world tell you that suppressing or denying emotions they deem unnecessary, or “wrong” is in your best interest. Just feel, and be real, that’s all I’m asking.

Fight when you can, smile when you can, and step back and curse it all when you want to too.

It’s all human, and it’s all right.

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Featured image via Unsplash

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I am Sorry

“Would ‘sorry’ have made any difference? Does it ever? It’s just a word. One word against a thousand actions.”

― Sarah Ockler, Bittersweet

I have hurt people.

I have hurt them in big and small ways, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I am human, I am flawed, I am scared, and I am hurting too. I don’t want to be like this and, trust me; I am working every day not to be. Eventually, I may learn to cope in some instances, but I will always have a tendency to fall back into old ways. I will always want to do what is easy, and it is easy to hurt others.

The world is a confusing place, and all I am looking for is a way to find some solid ground. I am looking for some control. I am looking for a way to feel safe.

Sometimes that means I am unkind. It means I pretend at not caring. It means I do things to hurt you, push you away, and keep you near. I just want to love you, make you happy, and help you love me back. I don’t know how to do that, and I feel inadequate. My actions are wrong, and they don’t make sense. I get frustrated with myself, and then frustrated with you. In the end, I blame you for my inability to act like you are important and worth my time and patience.

I am sorry.

“I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.”

― Lois Lowry, The Giver

Hurting others feels better than feeling strange and stupid.

We hurt each other to avoid our own hurt feelings. It’s pathetic, I know it, and you know it, and there is no excuse for it, but to be human is to be burdened by more feelings that you can safely hold. We suffer but we have been given no means of alleviating that suffering in any meaningful and permanent way. Anything that makes it even a little better only leaves us with more anxiety. We live in fear of losing what we find soothing, and we act in increasingly erratic and insane way to keep it.

We should all be apologizing to each other. All humans are guilty, and all humans are the injured party. None of us deserve to be on the receiving end of another’s insecurity and disappointment, and none of us have the right to use another as an emotional punching bag. We all do it in our personal relationships, but we do it on a much larger scale too.

Have you hated whole groups of people? Have you refused to listen to another point of view? Have you decided “those people” don’t deserve the same rights and comforts as you? Have you ever hit someone? Have you agreed that bombing another country is the right answer?

You may owe the world an apology.

This letter has been mine.

It isn’t good enough, though, because I cannot promise I won’t do it again. It isn’t good enough because I know I will do it again. I can only say again I am human, and I am hurting and like most humans, it is my first instinct is to spread that pain around. I am sorry I do this, I know better, we all do, but it takes a lot of work to be better. A lot of work, every single day.

I beg your forgiveness and ask for your patience, and I hope you can find it in your heart to give it to me.

I will do the same for you too.

“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevski, The Brothers Karamazov

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This post first appeared as part of my weekly newsletter, if you like it, consider signing up. You’ll get a bit of experimental writing from me—something more emotional, more private—and some interesting reads from a few other people. All made with lots of love, every week ♥

Original image via Harsha K R

P.S. Inspired by the video Why and How to Say Sorry by The School of Life

Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Laurie Halse Anderson

Hello friends! Welcome to Writer’s Quote Wednesday, an event hosted by Colleen at Silver Threading. Every week bloggers share their favorite quotes to motivate and inspire one another to keep writing and working toward our goals. My contribution this week is from the New York Times-bestselling author, Laurie Halse Anderson.

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Born Laurie Beth Halse on October 3rd, 1961, to Rev. Frank A. Halse Jr. and Joyce Holcomb Halse in Potsdam, New York, she grew up there with her younger sister, Lisa. As a student, she showed an early interest in writing and enjoyed reading—especially science fiction and fantasy—as a teenager, but never envisioned herself becoming a writer.

During Anderson’s senior year, she moved out of her parents’ house at the age of sixteen and lived as an exchange student for thirteen months on a pig farm in Denmark. Afterwars Anderson moved back home to work at a clothing store, earning the minimum wage. This motivated her to attend college.

She attended Onondaga Community College then transferred to Georgetown University in 1981 and graduated in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in languages and linguistics.

Anderson began her career as a freelance journalist and worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer in the early years of her career. During this time, Anderson also began to write children’s and young adult novels. Despite receiving rejection letters, Anderson released her first children’s novel, Ndito Runs, in 1996, based on Kenyan Olympic marathon runners who ran to and from school each day. Later that year, she had her story Turkey Pox published. This story was inspired by her daughter, Meredith, who broke out with chicken pox on Thanksgiving. In 1998, Anderson published No Time For Mother’s Day, featuring the same characters .

Laurie Halse Anderson currently lives in Northern New York with her husband and four children. She writes for kids of all ages and is known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists.

“Write about the emotions you fear the most.”

Laurie Halse Anderson

I wonder if there are emotions I am afraid of? I don’t remember ever being afraid of them. I have been ashamed of them. I have been frustrated and confused by them. I have struggled with them and dwelled on them. I have been hindered and my plans and goals been disrupted by my emotions. I have hated my emotions. Oh, how I have hated them!

I have also felt thankful for my emotions. I have felt surprised and been amused by my emotions. I have wondered what they mean and whether they are nothing at all or something very grand. I have wondered why they are and how they came to be in all of us. I have wondered where they come from inside me and have searched deep corners in myself to find their source. It still eludes me but I have learned a lot from the exploration.

I don’t write about what I wondered about emotions as much as I’d like but there are a lot of emotions, some quite complicated, at the core of every reason for writing. Fear, joy, passion, pride, hope, bitterness, boredom, love, these are just a few of the reasons why we write. They are also just a few of the things we write about.

What emotions do you feel when you write? And what part do emotion play in what you write? When I write I feel happy, and scared. I feel hopeful, and excited, and sometimes I feel insignificant.

I write about compassion and I write when I feel sorrow or outrage. I write because I want to remind people how to feel even if they are afraid too. The world doesn’t feel as much as it should and what it does feel it refuses to acknowledge.

What are we afraid of?

Biographical information via Goodreads, Wikipedia, and Laurie’s website

Yeah, I’m Needy, So What?

All my life I’ve been a deeply feeling person. I feel empathy and love quite strongly. Because of that, because being alone hurts, I need love and affection, attention and encouragement, from other humans. I am not ashamed to admit that, but I used to be.

All my life people have tried to toughen me up. They have tried offering advice, they have tried shaming me, they have tried making me feel guilty about it, they have even tried beating it out of me. In the end all they accomplished was making me wish I didn’t feel so deeply. I wished I didn’t need other people so damn much. All that guilt and shame didn’t change how I felt deep down. All it did was make me waste a whole lot of time trying to be something I wasn’t.

“You are not clingy, or needy, or silly for having needs for affection and affirmation and attention within a romantic relationship. Those needs aren’t an embarrassing outgrowth of your low-self esteem or depression or whatever messy emotional issues you may have going on, that’s just basic shit that people need from each other. We of course should not make our partners responsible for meeting all of our emotional needs – it’s not someone’s else’s job to make you happy. But inside a healthy relationship, being able to show affection, pay attention, and demonstrate “you are amazing and important to me” is a pleasure, not some task or burden.”

— Jennifer Peepas

Every thing we are taught as children is meant to prepare us for a world that is harsh. We are taught that other people will treat us badly. They will use and abuse us and leave us high and dry, sad and alone. So we go about the world endeavoring to take what we can from every one we meet before they can take anything from us. Every interaction and every relationship is nothing more than a game of chess. Do your best not to leave yourself vulnerable, but do make sacrifices, do allow yourself to be open, but only when it will get you something of value.

Compliments and admittance of emotion become currency we barter. We play a game of getting others to love and care for us without having to risk our own hearts. We play out the very prophecy our elders warned us about. We endure the pain of isolation in order to protect ourselves from feelings of isolation. How fucked up is that? And who should really be the ones to feel shame?

I believe the world needs more vulnerability. I believe the world needs open hearts and understanding. I believe everyone needs praise and to be told that they matter. I believe that the world needs more people to admit they need it too.

If we all just gave up the farce, if we all went to that person whose attention and affection we crave and just told them how we felt and what we needed. If we all opened our hearts and let ourselves love as hard and as sweetly as we all wish we could, imagine how the world would be then? I believe it could still be that way if we all changed a little bit, one by one. A good starting place is to allow those around you to express their own need and resist the temptation to belittle or invalidate it. 

Humans are social creatures. It is natural and beautiful and, in this world, it’s also very brave to show you natural need to be with others who care, protect, and encourage you.

The world needs more needy people

Post inspired by Musings of a Creative Spirit

Things I Needed Today

I needed someone to let me know it’s ok to make mistakes. I know that I mess up. I make more than my fair share of mistakes but everyday I try to be better. Sometimes, even when I am wrong, I want for someone to just tell me it’s ok. I want someone to say that they see me trying and it is all forgiven and forgotten. It seems like I only ever get yelled at and reminded about how much I mess up. We all make mistakes but it seems like mine pile up on top of one another until I feel like I’ll be crushed under the weight of it all.

I needed for people to let go of their own feelings and hear my side of it. I try to tell people about how I feel but they only take it personally and get defensive. I am often told why I shouldn’t feel the way I do or what I should’t have done in the forst place that madde the other person do whatever it was that made me feel whatever I do. If I had only not said that or done that or given that look then everything would be fine. I wish someone would just hug me and say they understand and they see that I am hurting.

More than anything, I needed to get away! I wish I could find a place where I could be alone and be sad.I am always somewhere where it is inapproriate to feel things. I need time to feel and express my emotions and I need to do it away from other people who may judge me. I need a place where I can let it all out! I need a place to sob and cry and I also need a place for anger and screaming. I imagine a sort of cave, out away from civilization, and place in nature, where I can be both good and bad. Only out there in nature there is no good or bad, I would just be who I am and there would be no one to tell me to be different.

I guess we all need these things sometimes. I think maybe I just had a bad day today and everything has gotten to me. I hope maybe tomorrow will be better and I won’t need quite so much.

Some Quick Thoughts on the Ferguson Decision

I was supposed to write a post about how I wanted to improve and be more positive this week, like I do every Monday, but this Monday was special. This Monday we all watched and waited for the decision from the Grand Jury on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missori.

So all day I thought about that and couldn’t write anything. I thought about Mike Brown and what might have been going through his head in those final moments. I thought about Darren Wilson and wondered where he might be and what he might be feeling about all of this. I thought about Mike Brown’s poor family and what the decision would mean for them and their piece of mind. I thought about what the reactions would be tonight whatever way the decision might go. Most of all, I thought about what all of this meant for my country in the coming days and weeks.

Then just a few hours ago it was finally announced that there would be no indictment. I feel so many things right now and it’s hard for me to put it all into words. I can honestly say I’m not surprised, but for some reason I still felt a bit of shock when I heard it. I think I want to hear more of the evidence now that it should be released to the public but I can’t help wondering how it is that an unarmed teenager is killed by a cop and there was NOTHING excessive about it. Just doesn’t seen right.

I guess I’m unsure about whether or not I believed the Grand Jury had come to the right decision. I generally don’t trust our justice system I can’t help thinking that just because they will not charge him does not mean he is innocent. It doesn’t mean what he did was right and it doesn’t mean that our system isn’t broken!

I am closely following what is going on across the country through news outlets and social media. Within a couple of hours many protests have broken out and things may be escalating and turning violent, especially in Ferguson. Now all I am thinking about are all those people out there who are angry and hurt and who feel the system has failed them. I am worried about them tonight. I feel for them and hope they succeed in having their voices heard.

My thoughts are with you tonight Ferguson. Stay strong and stay safe!

Being Sensitive Sucks…..But I’d Like to Stay That Way

I hate that I’m sensitive and jealous and stupid and quiet and ugly and annoying

– Unknown

Ever since I was a child I’ve been told I was too sensitive. The slightest criticism or perceived disappointment or anger, especially from my mother or was always met with tears. My mother was strong and didn’t cry so when I cried all she saw was that her daughter was weak.

That’s what I think anyway. She called me sensitive and a cry baby and she often implied that she thought I was faking it for attention. Being a drama queen and trying to get people to feel sorry for me. I stil think that now when I cry. I think everyone thinks I am a fake and looking for sympathy and attention.

I had a hard childhood and as much as I tried to grow up to be strong I fear I have become even more sensitive. I feel so much all the time and all of those emotions are expressed through tears. When I am happy I cry. When I feel love I cry. When I feel frustrated I cry. When that frustration turns to anger I cry harder. And of course when I am sad I cry the hardest.

I internalized what I felt my mother felt about me and now I feel weak and pathetic. I want to be like most other people who don’t cry. My girlfriend is like that. She is strong and she moves forward in life with thick skin. She also has a hard time dealing with sensitive people like me. Part of her loves that I am this way because she does need someone to soften her up. I remind her that it’s important to feel things.

But sometimes feeling so much is too much. Sometimes I think it would be easier to be thick skinned like regular people. Then I could stop crying so much and feeling so much pain all the time. I imagine I would feel less happiness though, there is a cost to everything I suppose.

I think my childhood has left me with many raw, open wounds. I am always on the verge of pain. No I am fragile and damaged and I need to be handled with care but it’s not easy for other people who just want to be able to be normal around me. People who want to make jokes and who are brutally honest get frustrated when I collapse into a ball of tears.

When that happens and I see the way people look at me then I start to feel the bad things about myself. I am weak.

But maybe I’m not as weak as I think. My girlfriend says I am strong all the time. When she says it I barely believe her, BUT it is nice to hear it coming from her, the strongest person I know. She says she really means it and I think to her showing emotion the way I do seems like it takes a whole lot of guts. She doesn’t know I don’t choose it. She doen’t know I don’t the strength to fight it.

I have tried to fight it. I have tried to bottle things up and grow a thich skin but the more I fight the worse I get. One thing I have learned over the years is that this part of me will never change. I am not going to fight it anymore. I’m going to embrace it and I’m going to see if maybe I can be strong in my own way. Maybe being a sensitive person is a strength. I am differnt from everyone else and that has to mean something. That has to be something good.

 

 

This was a free write. I didn’t edit it at all or change anything. Please forgive any errors.