I touch on depression frequently in my articles because the statistics of people living with depression are so high that it can be completely disheartening and discouraging to think about, and if there is even a fraction of my words that can inspire another to either seek help for themselves, or begin making the change to their perception that will allow the room for happiness, then I know it is my moral obligation to continue discussing these topics. In the mindset of the holiday season, I bring you an article that has nothing to do with that, because I, myself, am a hardened Scrooge—hard pressed to feel differently. Though I make attempts to set that aside and allow my loved ones to experience the maximum amount of holiday joy that is possible for them, I also would be lying if I gave the impression I have somehow been converted into a holiday loving, young woman. Sorry, guys.
It has been my firsthand experience, and also my observation, that part of finding personal enlightenment enough to overcome depression and other mental illnesses working to negatively impact our lives, is admitting that we have absolutely no understanding of anything. It is all out of our control, our knowledge is not knowledge and we are pieces of matter floating ignorantly through space. Here I am, a columnist penning wellness articles with advice and inspiration for change, and I, too, am ignorant in everything. Hell, the shirt I think is orange could actually be green and I would not know the difference, and yet we seem to think we have some kind of insight into how this life all works. We think we know what things are supposed to look like as we stumble and fall and pick ourselves back up, often times thinking we’ve done something bad, wrong or are somehow being punished in some way for our initial fall in the first place.
In reality, we don’t know anything. None of us do, and while some may take those words and find them to be filled with despair, or at least apathy, I urge you that they are not. In fact, the very idea is an inspiration in itself to shed one’s preconceived notions of what life is supposed to be like, and instead just enjoy and live. I used to say that there is a certain kind of freedom that comes with realizing that nothing matters, and I still believe that, though I would now try to word it much differently. This freedom comes from inside us—suddenly the idea of personal happiness becomes prominent and the struggle of trying to fulfill societal norms dissipates. I’ve written before about my belief that the universe is a balance; this idea best matches my perception of the world, but I must tell you that there is nothing concrete in that way of thinking either. I simply don’t know the truth, and neither do you. It is a nice thought to think that people get out of life what they put in, but the reality of the situation is that people sometimes also don’t get what they deserve, or get something they don’t deserve. Why can some people do absolutely everything right and still get shit on every step of the way?
In our society we like to blame them for it. We call it “taking personal responsibility,” and while some personal responsibility is good, it is not always the case that we’ve made a bad choice. A few articles back, I wrote about how we view the poor as irresponsible with their money, forgetting that to be irresponsible with money would require you to have money in the first place. This way of thinking, that every choice we make impacts our lives and we best fully understand the consequences of those choices, is based on the idea that our choices actually do impact our lives. What if they don’t? Take the person who steers clear of smoking their entire lives, and still ends up with lung cancer. How do we explain that unless to say that there is a certain level of randomness that we simply don’t understand yet? By saying that, we have to admit that we are not knowledgeable, and we simply do not have the answers. We simply do not understand cause and effect, nevertheless leave room to understand that cause and effect might not even exist to begin with on a grander scale. Of course there are some things we can know—if we do not eat, we will be hungry; if we do not drink, we will be thirsty, but those are minuscule in the weight of complex human life.
There is an astronomical amount of pressure put on people to make the “right” decisions, even more judgment placed upon them when something bad happens. They simply must have made the wrong choice, and now it is up to them to take personal responsibility. Our society makes us believe that we are bad if we make any choice that veers from the algorithm planned out for it, despite the fact that bad things will happen regardless; and how do we expect people not to internalize those feelings of “being bad” when they see it everywhere they go? We are always bad, even when we are good; and when we are good, it is not good enough. Politicians tell the impoverished to get off their lazy asses and fight in a war most of us believe was tragic to begin with, the wealthy look down on those who need government assistance to feed their families, religious authorities demonize us for being human and give strict regimen to be considered worthy enough to enter heaven, curriculum and testing officials punish kids who simply don’t learn the standard way, women who do not want to be married and have children somehow gain the attention of being unnatural; and with all of this, we wonder why so many internalize the pain that comes with being viewed as bad, being viewed as worthless or being viewed as responsible for something negative.
I know that I can’t change the world myself, and would never dream to think so highly of myself as worthy of that endeavor in the first place, but I do know that I can change myself and how I view the world around me, and hope that in changing myself and promoting peace and happiness, I can positively impact those in my life, and then their small changes might inspire someone they know, so on and so forth. This spread of ideas is really the only way to combat the negative stereotypes or powerful judgments our society deems acceptable to place on others. I do not believe in bombs or guns, we cannot change the world without first understanding change within ourselves, and the path to peace is not with violence and negativity, but with love, empathy and understanding that spreads like wildfire and snuffs out those who seek to destroy. I know that if I can inspire even one person, then I have made an impact; and sometimes that impact is all we can hope for. That is what change looks like.
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