Tuesday, 10 June 2014

This Shadow Life - People Like Me

I am not a perfect person, far from it in fact. I think I might actually be a horrible person.
Sometimes I am selfish, hateful, jealous, unkind, unattractive, lazy, self destructive, a liar, and just about everything else that people tell you not to be.
I have no drive or ambition. I'm happier reading stories about other peoples lives than being out and living my own.
I struggle to feel empathy for others. I don't care about you or her or anyone else, but maybe that's because I can barely find the energy to even care about myself.

Believe it or not, I am happy being me. I was raised to believe that I should be myself, embrace my flaws as the things that make me beautiful. Well, I believed what I was told and I did it. I learned to love my flaws, they make me who I am, and I love that too.
Not everyone seems to feel the same though, and since I have started thinking about this, I have noticed it more and more. People want me to be myself and embrace who I am, unless that means being something that they don't want me to be.

As an example I will tell you a little story.
Once I was listening to some music and came across a line that I really liked. I felt that it described me well. Excited about this new revelation, I rushed outside to tell my dad.
I told him the quote, "I like what I do, I do what I like". To me this exemplified the peace that I find in doing the things that I love and loving the things that I do. However, my dad swiftly informed me that this quote was incredibly selfish and that I should try to live my life for the happiness of others as much for myself.
What he didn't get what that one of the things I love doing is making people happy. I struggle to do it for myself so I try to do it for everyone else. (I guess I'm not an awful person all the time)
Too shocked by his accusation to explain that to him, I quickly found an excuse to go back inside.
Thinking on this I realised that my father, who has always loved and supported me, didn't like the idea that I might not be selfless, and immediately he wanted me to change.

I get that if I weren't selfless, then learning to become it would be seen as 'bettering myself'' but bettering myself by whose definition?
People say that you should be yourself. What they seem to mean is that you should be yourself, unless you are in any way lacking.

The other thing that bothers me with this, that I guess is semi-related, is the fact that you very rarely read a book where the bad guy is just an average person. They always have a mental illness, or a confused religious obsession, or they are evil incarnate. Why can't they just be someone trying to get by and doing what they think is best, even if the hero of the story doesn't agree with it?
I think that it is because people need a reason why this bad person is not like them. The reader needs to be able to put a little bubble around themselves and say "I am not like him, he is evil". I'm not talking evil like Voldemort or Sauron, although they would definitely be in that category too, I'm talking just people doing things that the hero sees as wrong/evil.

To better explain this I'll give another example.
I am reading a book at the moment where there was a girl on a convict ship because she had been arrested. The ship was shipwrecked on a beach and in full view of the people watching on the beach, a man (the hero of the story) swam out to save her because she was beautiful. The story then goes on to detail how the couple escape from the officers pursuing them, steal their horses and leave them for dead in the wilderness. Now, it sounds like all of their actions are horribly selfish, illegal and down right wrong. However, because they are the beautiful, in love heros of the story, this is all okay and the reader finds that they are cheering these criminals on.
The reader also finds themselves hating the officers because they are portrayed as fat and slow and angry and stupid and mean. They are portrayed as having every negative trait that a person can have. No redeeming features at all. Nothing that a reader would wan to identify with.
People say that you should be yourself, unless you are evil incarnate...

Now imagine the same story above, but told from the law enforcement perspective. It would be totally different.
All the negative things would be transformed by the new perspective. Fat would become a lovable weakness for his wife's home cooking. Slow would become patient. Being angry and mean would become a justified reaction to the torments of a criminal. It would be the officers standing up for themselves and doing what was necessary to get the job done. Being stupid would be transformed to being the lovable underdogs overcoming their god given shortcomings.
You would be cheering on the officers, not the runaways.
But, even if they are all fat and slow and angry and stupid and mean, why should that matter? They are doing the right thing and upholding laws that are in place to keep people safe. They are doing the right thing.
A simple change in perspective is all it takes to go from being the hero to the villain, from a good person to a bad one.
People say that you should be yourself, unless you are on the wrong side of the story.

I often hear people calling someone an unkind name or shunning them because they wear unflattering clothes, aren't embarrassed about they bodies, don't think that "private areas are all that private", or they scratch their crotch or breasts in public, or don't let ladies go first through the door, or because they are a female and have bigger muscles than most men, or are a man who liked to wear scarves to keep his neck warm. There are all super simple relatively uninteresting things that I can guarantee to you, someone in the world thinks is a bad thing to do. But that's just because it's what they have been taught to think.
Take young children for example. They will pick their nose, scratch their bottom and really do whatever feels right. They aren't embarrassed by their fat rolls or afraid to make their private parts very public. This is because they are totally unrestrained by the preconceived notions of society which say that all the things I mentioned above are wrong.
Personally I find nothing wrong with scratching an itch in a private area in public. I don't do it because other people seem to take offence, but I don't see why my private areas are any different to the other parts of my body.
How is a breast or a bottom different to any other part of the body, except that someone, somewhere once decided that it was bad?
This is really just an extension of my first thought I guess...
People say that you should be yourself, unless you challenge the preconceived ideas of our society.

Post your thoughts below. I would really love to know what you think about this. 


  1. Hello!

    I really enjoyed reading your text. I think what you say right. Wrong or right or forbidden or okay: All just a matter of perspective.
    You took good examples to discribe your thoughts. Good job.
    I agree with what you say.


    1. Hey A,
      I'm so sorry for the late reply, I only just saw this.
      Thanks for the comment. I am glad that at least one person understood the point that I was trying to make with all that rambling. :]