I was reading another blog, or maybe it was a Facebook note, and it was all about things that person had come to realize. It was just a list of things they had figured out after different life experiences, big and small. Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool, so I thought I'd do it, too. This isn't about things I've just realized in 2009, but it's also not not about things I've just realized in 2009. There was definitely an easier way to phrase that last sentence, but I consciously chose the more difficult route. (I just like that you can apply math rules to the sentence: let that double negative cancel itself out and what are you left with? Go ahead, I'll wait. ............ See what I did there?)
Okay, okay. All double negatives aside, here are some things I've come to realize:
.: I've come to realize happiness isn't as easy as just being happy, as some people would have us believe (I'm talking about you, Leo Tolstoy). It is something you have to work at. :.
Leo Tolstoy is the guy who said, "If you want to be happy, be." I used to think it was really clever, and it changed the way I looked at things for a while. Don't get me wrong, it's still a nice quote, but it's rather misleading. Over the past three or four years, I've had to work at happiness, and it's been hard. Trust me, if it came down to me willing myself happy, I would have been walking on sunshine years ago. Better yet, I wouldn't have been unhappy in the first place. However, I'm finally in a place (mentally) where I consider myself 'happy'. Things aren't perfect, not even close, but I'm up and at 'em everyday and I'm working on making things perfect. I'm feeling like I haven't felt in years (years!) and I'm proud because I worked hard at it.
.: I've come to realize that family is family, for better or for worse. :.
Being a part of a family is a marriage like no other--you can't get divorced and split up the loot. When you're born there aren't any contracts drawn up. While you're in the womb, there isn't a lawyer preparing a pre-familial bond agreement. The cord is cut, but suddenly, you're more attached than ever. There's no courting involved, you get what you're born into--almost like an arranged marriage. Despite it all being completely out of your hands, you have to accept what you're given. That doesn't mean like--hell, it doesn't even mean love--it just means accept. The more I've accepted my family (and, trust me, it's many, many dysfunctions), the more I'm okay with myself.
.: I've realized having someone to talk to, who is completely invested in helping you deal, is wonderful and invaluable. :.
Just find someone (a friend, teacher, parent, relative, counselor, hotline volunteer, etc.) to listen to what you have to say. I'm a big fan of writing, but there's absolutely nothing that can compare to saying it all out loud. Seriously. It's worth it to find at least one person, someone you feel will do right by you, that you can open up to. That means they'll listen intently and only give advice when you ask for it. I've found it's best that this person isn't a friend or family member--they often want to persuade or fix things, and often times they end up invalidating your feelings. Not purposely, mind you. It's just sometimes, it's hard to see the ones we love struggle. My biggest worry was offending the people who cared about me by going to someone else, someone who knew nothing about the people I was going to rant about; it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
.: I have come to realize emotions, especially anger and hate, consume you. :.
I've spent a lot of time letting betrayals and injustices take over my world--sometimes to the point where I couldn't even get out of bed--and I've missed out on a lot of good things. I usually play things close to the chest, so stating that I've been betrayed and treated unjustly seems like I'm letting you all see too much of me. But, I know you guys, and trust you all enough to share with you (I know that this is open for anyone on the Internet to see, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm only talking to the few of you that I know will take the time to read this). I've carried around major feelings of anger, and even hate, and all it did was ruin me. The persons I harbored those feelings for didn't even know it, so it wasn't affecting them like it was me. As far as I knew, they were off, living life, and there I was, wasting away. Along with this, I now understand what people mean when they tell you that forgiveness is more for yourself than for the person you're forgiving.
.: I've come to realize that people look up to, and depend upon, me. :.
Many times throughout my life, I've been told that I'm a leader. I've been told that when I talk, people listen. That people respect my honesty and trust my opinions. I never really understood what being a leader meant, so I never really embraced the honor. I've started to see, however, what it entails and the realization has affected me. I feel there's no way to talk about being a leader without sounding completely egotistic, so I hope it's not coming off that way. I never feel like a leader; I usually feel more like the goofy, wise-cracking sidekick. This year, I was thanked by people I didn't even know I had helped. It's so hard to explain, but it's just a little overwhelming, quite scary and extremely humbling.
The person who did this just wrote one sentence about the things they'd realized. However, I decided part way through this post that, instead of just making a long list one time, I'd much rather elaborate a bit on the reflections I'm making. So, I think I'll try to squeeze in a thought about something I've come to realize on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.
I don't know if you all made it through the whole post, but if not, that's okay. It was nice just to write it.
Title Song: 'Put Your Records On' - Corrine Bailey Rae