You find yourself thinking of something, then the next thing you know, the same concept appears in an article you read, a conversation you have, a billboard you pass. We already know our phones
are listening to us (I miss the day when "accepting cookies" meant something way more fun), but can they read our minds now, too? It seems like crazy coincidence when these synchronicities
appear, but what if we are also seeing and learning things right when we're ready to, at just the right time? What if there is more to the collective conscience than we are able to understand at
this time? The longer I live, the clearer it is that everything—and everyone—is connected.
In fact, I've learned so many lessons and stumbled on so many recurring themes in my life lately, that I feel the need to write some of them down and share them with you here. Putting thoughts into written words helps me clarify, process, and purify the mess in my mind. Maybe these words can help you with your mess, too.
So what are some of the lessons I've learned that keep popping up as recurring themes everywhere I go? Well, for starters,
1. There's No Such Thing as Everyone's Cup of Tea.
I once worked a job where, upon meeting my brother, someone told him, "Your sister is probably the only person here that everybody likes." My inner people pleaser thought it was a graaand compliment. After a series of mistakes, misfortunes, and misadventures, however, I now know that no one can, nor should, be liked by everyone. If everyone likes you, it's usually because few really know you, and you're watering yourself down to be agreeable to all. The more You you become, the smaller your circle will get, but the more people you'll have who truly love you for exactly who you are. Nowadays, a lot of people don't like me, but I can finally trust that I'm loved for the real me. I was ashamed when I realized it, but molding yourself to be something you're not so that someone will love you is a form of manipulation. Of course, I'm only human. I still dislike being disliked. I was once told by people I loved and respected that I should keep my thoughts to myself, and I still second-guess myself to the sounds of their voices in my head every time I prepare to speak up and step out. In the end, though, the good that comes from speaking your truth far outweighs the fake friends you lose by being genuine. You owe it to yourself and the world to live in your truth and be authentic. Authenticity is contagious, and it will open all the right doors.
2. Everything Is Connected. Everything.
I recently started watching a Netflix docuseries called just that: Connected. After having a thought the other night about just how interwoven the whole world is, I couldn't help but click on the show when I saw it on my screen. Today I learned that the fossilized remains of long-dead creatures in the Sahara Desert are eventually ground to dust that travels on the wind the over six thousand miles to the Amazon Rainforest, a lush ecosystem which loses so much of its nutrients every year that it simply could not exist without the phosphorus from the dust of the desolate Sahara. "Out of death, life," the show's host Latif Nasser confirms. "Wherever on this globe you take a breath, you're breathing in somewhere else." This fact also reminds me of a similar finding that every glass of water we drink has also at one time been drunk and peed out by a dinosaur. Yes, you drink dino pee. Look it up. It seems a girl can't even decompose or urinate in peace without affecting another life.
Just as living in your truth creates a ripple effect in your world, so does everything else you do and say. It's tough to acknowledge that there is nothing in your life that is truly just "your business," and there's absolutely no world in which you will get through life and not cause harm. From simply just not knowing better to conscious wrongs, we will all negatively affect our environments and our relationships at some point and in some way. Of course, it doesn't mean that there's no point in even trying. We also will all, knowingly and unknowingly, effect immense, incredible good, simply by our very existence.
It is by the logic in this same concept that inevitably...
3. You Are the Villain in Someone Else's Story.
Just as you have your experiences, perceptions, and truths, everyone else has theirs. You cannot (and should not try to) control what other people think of you, say about you, or do. The best you can do is try not to villainize others for their shortcomings and to accept that others' childish gossip is out of your hands. Humanity is incredibly nuanced. The only people who cannot see others for their "bigger picture" being, flaws and failures and all, and still typically see them as generally good, have personality disorders. The concept is called the object relations theory. The capacity for whole object relations is the ability to form a realistic, integrated view of yourself and others which encompasses both virtues and flaws. Those who lack object constancy are unable to fathom that someone in their life can screw up and still be a wonderful person on the whole. In other words, people will mess up and can still be generally good—and so can you. Just as you must speak your truth, others will speak theirs. Learn from mistakes, release your attachment to what others think, and move on. Remember how being disliked is okay and can actually be good? Finding out that you're a villain to someone sometimes just means that you took a chance, achieved some coveted success, were true to yourself, or had the courage to make a change that just plain didn't benefit their agenda. Stay true to you.
4. It's Not "Just" Facebook.
We're all learning more and more how deeply social media affects our brains and just how meaningful and influential little online behaviors can really be. Trolling can be a sign of mental illness. Our internet interactions can make or break other people's days. Oversharing can get you fired or even arrested. Somebody has probably unfollowed or deleted you because of a misunderstanding or something silly you said. And I've learned that people will stop liking your statuses if they don't like you, even if they actually like what you said (be yourself anyway). Of course, sometimes, slights are only perceived. Some people just haven't added you because they just don't check their notifications, etc. But we know that likes trigger dopamine, the happiness hormone, and we know we're literally addicted to our phones. Our social media account now tracks our every move. FAKE, malicious bot accounts are spreading controversial content meant to sow division and rage, and we're taking the bait. The things we put on the internet live there forever (God, I hope I haven't written something I'll regret in here. Probably did.), so we have to employ some discretion and tact. The point is, small actions online can carry big social clues and consequences. The key is to try to use it for its good (keeping in touch with loved ones from afar, learning new things, expressing ourselves and our joys in a healthy way) without losing ourselves in the traps and temptations it brings.
5. You Are Not Your Ideas.
My social media musings lead me directly to my final lesson for today and the last ongoing theme I've noticed cropping up this
year. I don't care how tightly you cling to them. I don't care how long you've stood by them. I don't care how much you identify with them. YOU are not your ideas, and you have to stop treating
them as an extension of yourself. Marrying yourself to your political leanings, your world views, or your personal ideologies breeds two things: bitterness and bias. This concept has appeared
many times for me this year, and it once more came up in conversation on a Joe Rogan podcast I was listening to today featuring Bridget Phetasy. In a statement that went something like this, Joe
explained, "the moment you find yourself wanting something to be true, that's when you need to question it most of all." Most people live their whole lives with tunnel vision and
defensiveness when it comes to their personal views. They hate being uncomfortable or wrong, so they eternally seek out sources and data that confirm what they already believe, and they will
choke on their words before ever retracting them when proven otherwise. Blindly identifying with our ideas is undoing our families, our communities, and our world. We are more divided than ever,
and with it being an election year, people are noticeably more afraid than ever to admit to the flaws within their own party, their candidate, and their opinions, lest they be cast out by the
almighty tribe or give off the stinky scent of weakness or imperfection. I've watched helplessly as emotion won out over logic in many an ideological argument time and time again,
pitting mother against daughter and friend against friend. As long as we continue to treat our opinions as they are US, we will surely never grow. The only way we can do better as a nation is if
we remember how to LISTEN, how to take constructive criticism, and how to grow from what we learn from the opposing side.
Tonight, many of us watched in agony as tribalism and identification with ideas churned out a barf fest that we were so bold as to title "debates." The overwhelming national theme after that douchey debacle? Exhaustion. People from all sides are just. plain. exhausted. this year, and we have to make a change. That change, in the end, starts at home. It starts with just once saying, "I was wrong." "I misspoke." "Oh, I didn't realize/never knew that." It starts with learning to be teachable, with accepting accountability, with practicing sincere apologies, with mutual respect in the face of disagreement. I once read an adage about how a lot of things people do and say that we misguidedly take personally stem from a simple truth: people are not against you; they are for themselves. We can hold honorably to our morals, but we cannot sell our souls just to be right. We cannot keep feeling and acting as if every simple disagreement with us is a personal attack. We cannot stand in this dark hallway and scream at and over each other until one of us kills the other or dies of disillusionment. Now, more than ever, we must remember, we are bound to each other, to the entire universe, infinitely and unavoidably. While none of us will escape this life without offending other people and impacting our environments in some negative way, all we can do is try our best to make the people and places we touch better than they were before we got there... for we are all connected.
That's the tea. Thanks for visiting.