So, I had a little bit too much to drink when I went downtown this weekend (nothing bad happened, save for spraining my ankle, I just didn’t quite realize how strong the drinks at this bar were), and my friends had a fun time filling me in on the parts that I don’t remember. Apparently at some point as we were transitioning from one bar to the next, I tripped and fell in front of a bouncer who then informed us that he wasn’t going to let us in. Instead of berating the bouncer or whining, I simply stood up, dusted myself off, and looked around at everyone near me, proclaiming “yeah everyone, I fucked up, that was my bad.”
So, I am officially the most accountable drunk you will ever meet, at least.
Also, my friend Cody is an ACTUAL radar detector.
It frustrates me to have been socialized in an environment that positively reinforces selfish behavior. The “I’m looking out for number one” mindset seems to be so ingrained in the cultural fabric of our society, that I find myself second guessing my good nature, asking myself whether I am being too available to others, or letting people take advantage of me.
I want to challenge that. The instance that brought this all up for me involves a woman whom I met today. Her name is Darlene. I teach at the high school I graduated from, and although I teach an elective as well as math and science in the morning, I generally have two hours of free time during the last block of the day, from around 1:30-3:30, save for Friday. Yesterday, my boss/co-teacher/the principal of the school approached me just as 3rd period was starting, and told me that a family friend of one of the students had called hoping to find someone to tutor her for the GED, which she is taking on Monday of next week. My boss informed that that this is in no way part of my job description, but more of an “out of the goodness of your heart” type of situation. She gave me the contact information and expressed very clearly that I should only do it if I had time.
Whenever a situation like this comes up, where someone needs help, regardless of what it is they might need, I tend to agree immediately. I don’t know what made me this way, and I am sure it’s not a rare trait by any means, but altruism is a big virtue of mine. I called Darlene during my next free moment, and we scheduled a tutoring appointment for the next day during my free time.
I didn’t give much more thought to this topic for the remainder of the school day, but when I arrived home it came back to the forefront of my thoughts. I began to contemplate how quickly I had agreed to help this woman, as well as all of the work I have ahead of me before my five January grad school applications due dates (which are really closer than January being that I have a two week trip to Colorado starting Christmas day.) It’s not like I really felt a ton of pressure to agree to this particular favor, as I tend to only feel pressured when the receiver of said favor is the one asking for it, but I can’t deny that I was incredibly quick to agree to it, not really giving a second thought. For a moment or two, I felt guilty about it, and dwelled on how much success I had prevented myself from achieving in the past by putting others’ needs before mine. Now, don’t get me wrong; I totally GET that always putting others before yourself can be dentrimental, and I don’t believe I have ever done it to the point that I completely sabotaged myself. However, it is my natural inclination to preoccupy myself with the feelings of others, and after the revelations I have made over the past couple of days, this is a trait that I would never get rid of, and one that I am incredibly proud of.
After feeling guilty for a bit, I started to take a step back from the situation to consider what might be motivating my feelings. As I often do when attempting to identify the root of my feelings, beliefs, biases, etc., I pondered my environment, and what kind of lessons I have been taught over my lifespan about helping others. Of course, there are the cliche parables taught to children to illustrate the importance of being a kind individual and helping those in need, but these are messages I had long since stopped receiving by college. I don’t believe that the institutional beliefs held by either my high school or college were immoral or against the thought of helping others; in fact, selflessness was encouraged at both places in different ways. However, the atmosphere of academia combined with the gradual shift our society has made in recent decades away from being an interconnected community, and toward distrust or even contempt toward strangers and those who aren’t familiar to us (rightfully so, in certain cases: I don’t want my future children to be susceptible to harm by not practicing selective trust) has always been directly at odds with how I want, even NEED, to behave in order to be a happy person. I thrive off of being there for others, but I have learned that competition and one-upping are the keys to success if I ever want to be the best. This concept was driven home ever further for me upon attending an academically rigorous college, where I felt insanely inadequate compared to my peers. The need to compete was never more relevant.
As I began to have these realizations, I felt myself becoming frustrated with them. I am mad that these are the messages that myself, and countless others, have received growing up. I am mad because there is nothing wrong with being who I am. I am mad because I believe that the dog-eat-dog mentality doesn’t foster a non-violent, nurturing society in which everyone gets to live without feeling like they don’t belong, and where people care a lot about each other, regardless of who each other is.
What did I lose today by tutoring Darlene for two hours? Absolutely nothing. What did I gain? I got to connect with a new person whom I would have never met otherwise. I got to breeze through the last two hours of work in what felt like half an hour, because I really like math problems that I understand, and I love them even more when I can get others to understand them too. I got to feel good about myself, which I admit is the selfish part of selflessness, but you just can’t deny that glow when you truly feel good about what you’ve done. I got to have this whole thought process in my head, and further confirm where my morals lie.
So, I say to whoever might read this; undo what you’ve learned! I don’t know how, but there is a whole big altruistic spectrum, and everyone falls somewhere on it. I’ve met lots of people like myself, who love helping and living for others, but I’ve also met a few who I could never imagine lifting another finger for another human being without an ulterior motive. However, I am of the belief that the average human being has all the capacity for love, kindness and altruism inside of them, and that the world beats it out of us to a certain extent. Do something for someone else every time you can reasonably do so, and feel damn sure about doing it. It doesn’t make you a push-over, it just makes you part of the big group of us trying to keep it real, peaceful and happy.
And she thought to herself; maybe I can learn to love IPAs…
- Sex change operation to avoid sexism
- Sleeping with people you’re not attracted to to avoid homophobia
- Converting to avoid religious hate
- Staying in the figurative closet to avoid trans*phobia
I don’t really feel like I have anyone to talk to about this, so I am going to write about it.
I get triggered, sometimes, when people say things that make me feel as though wanting to have sex is normal, universal and a given. It’s not that I think other people shouldn’t have sex, or that I have any opinions about what people should or shouldn’t do sexually whatsoever; honestly, I don’t know why it triggers me. Today, in a staff meeting, a story was relayed about two individuals having sex in the computer lab, and later it was revealed that this happened at 5 AM, and I made a joke along the lines of “who can even think about sex when they’re that tired” and the response of the staff was a resounding disagreeance with what I had said (not in an attacking me kind of way at all, more just like a “oh trust me, I think about sex all the time” kind of way). I found myself having a very visceral reaction to this, and I had to put my best effort into faking as though that response had no effect on me, and fighting the urge to cry for the rest of the meeting. I think, given all of the circumstances, and knowing that I felt similarly about sex before being sexually coerced and assaulted by Scott, that I am triggered when I am made to feel the same feeling he made me feel. He made me feel like I was a freak, and wrong, for not being as sexual as him, and I always felt as though there was something wrong with me for not wanting sex as much as him. I had never been in a relationship in which being able to have sex any time was an option before dating him, so I’m not sure if the lack of being able to see each other very often with previous boyfriends, and therefore only having sex every once in a while, was what reduced the tension of me feeling like I had to have sex more often than I wanted to, or if I just wasn’t attracted to Scott. Anyway, back to my point; I don’t get uncomfortable simply talking about sex. That’s fine, generally. I get triggered when sex is normalized and I am put back in that mindset where I feel wrong or bad for not feeling a certain way about sex. I know my staff didn’t mean to make me feel that way, and I honestly don’t feel like I can talk about this stuff to anyone given the very specific nature of it, and my fear of not being understood or not receiving the support that I need.
I just want to feel normal again. Ignorance is bliss.
You know what? I am a funny motherfucker. I make rooms of people laugh non-stop when I’m not being timid. It’s time I embrace that and let it show no matter where I go. And it’s time I start dwelling on all of the things that make me an amazing human as opposed to getting so preoccupied with what I’m NOT. I am a lot of great things :)
Can we just take the users of 4chan and put them on an island together where their sexism/racism/cisgenderism/sizeism/heterosexism/ableism/pretty much any other form of -ism can slowly eat away at each other instead of having to have such people live in the same community as I do?
What terrifies me is that I’m not sure whether asshats are disproportionately drawn to 4chan for its anonymity, or if the anonymity allows seemingly less awful people to show their awfulness.
Maybe I should just go live by myself in the woods?