We, humans, are like sheep. On many occasions, we are bound to find ourselves blindly following false beliefs, setting unattainable goals or even, seeking the impossible perfection — and if we do so, like the cluelessly meek sheep, we will soon find ourselves in the slaughterhouse, with nowhere out from the impending demise. Too, when we stray, we need a capable shepherd — that both loves and understands his sheep — to find us, to guide us back.
This post serves as a reflection and reminder for me if I ever got lost again, and also hopefully, a wake-up call for those who might already be lost.
I have always talked about having an open mind, be receptive to others’ opinions, having a good character, that character is the most important asset of all but, amidst living from day to day — gaining new knowledge and experiencing new things, meeting new people or seeing old faces, getting distracted by insurmountable stress and feeling worn out by incessant worries, living the ups and downs of life and everything in between — I got lost and failed myself. To that, I know that I was a hypocrite that contradicted myself so terribly and I was blind to it, until.
I had always thought that I am right — in a lot of ways, and in a lot of things; that chances are, you are wrong; that what I say is true and that the only lens to see reality with, is my lens. Ironically, at the same time, I knew of the fact that whatever lenses we choose to see through isn’t right or wrong but merely ours, and everyone has things you don’t know and that they can teach you something new. I knew of these axioms perfectly well — but the thing is I didn’t understand; I knew but I did not truly understand.
The reason why I think I’m like that is because I think that I myself read a whole damn lot, about a whole lot of things. And because of that, I assumed that I know a whole lot more and chances are, I will be right — which obviously, in fact, I might not be. Additionally, because of the fact that sometimes I think far too much and oftentimes because of that, I’ve always anticipated how a thing will play out — like what will happen, etc — and when that eventuality actually becomes a reality, that further reinforces the idea that I’m always right. It’s kind of a vicious cycle actually.
To allow you to understand better, here’s a brief illustration of how it goes:
- I read and I know about something say, X, and also things that are connected to it — things like why do people do/say/think/feel a certain way.
- X happens, or most of the time, something similar to it happened.
- I then extrapolate from similar incidents that happened before and whatever I think I know, and play out in my mind what will eventually happen.
- It happens, the thing that I thought would happen, happened!
- “I am right, I knew I was right.”
- I read about Y and the same thing, things relating to Y.
- Y and most things happen the way I thought it would.
- “I am right, I am always right.”
Extremely obnoxious and self-righteous I know, and this, in fact, got really out of hand. With no one to convince me that I am wrong, that I am self-righteous, that I am a self-serving egomaniac, this whole I-am-always-right mentality spiralled even further, downwards. Unfortunate as it may be, I knew that if I continued to be this way — this shitty — the reality I would be faced with, is me losing my friends who I have known for years, the friends who love me not despite my imperfections and vulnerabilities, but because of them — yet I couldn’t do the same for them. I am glad that I was curious about what I felt, or what I thought and had put it out honestly and vulnerably, and coupled with them being so supportive, I eventually opened my eyes to the reality. I was lucky too, to have chosen to rumble with the harsh, ego-shattering, gut-wrenching, cold hard fact that I was getting out of hand, that I am misguided, that I’m not as good as who I make myself out to be, that I am lost — and that I will lose my friends eventually.
Time and time again, I have advocated people to be more open-minded, be more receptive to others’ ideas/opinions, that you are not always right, that there is not only one way to how things work, that everyone has something you don’t already know and that we should listen before we speak, and try to understand/ consider genuinely about what is being said — but yet, I had the damn cheek to be inconsistent with what I believe or have said. I was truly that blackest kettle of kettles calling the grey pots black, the hypocrite calling out on others’ hypocrisy, the dick saying everyone else was a cunt — I am ashamed and terribly wrong at that.
I’ve let my closest of friends down. I will never know if they will accept the apologies that I have made to them — apologies for me being mean, being insensitive and saying unnecessarily harsh and offensive remarks; being stubborn and headstrong, thinking that I am always right; and for me being the worst of friends, deciding that who is or isn’t worth it to be friends with, despite their unconditional acceptance of my flaws. To that, I am truly ashamed.
After having heard all the critical things about of my flaws, I’ve consequently learnt a few things:
- Reality is different for each and everyone one of us. How I see/feel/think about a certain matter is not the absolute truth, nor the indisputable fact. I have to relearn and practice accepting peoples’ opinions and perspectives. Since I want people to be open-minded to ideas of others, I myself should be too.
- I need to listen, really listen attentively, and deliberately make an effort to internalise what was being said — which, let me put it out there, not many people do — before interrupting or offering my opinions. We often forget the difference between hearing and listening; hearing is just knowing, but listening is understanding.
- Everyone has something you don’t know and can learn from. I quote my friend, “Doesn’t mean that you are better than him in studies, in sports, in knowledge, in appearance, in results, and everything else you can possibly think of, you are better than him. You are not. I’m sure there are things that he knows that you don’t. I’m 100% certain that there are things he is better than you at.” So listen before you judge whether one is actually incapable of teaching you things because, from experience, my ego was so high up that I turned a deaf ear to people that I thought wasn’t at my level. My ego wasn’t just inflated — it was severely and unjustifiably inflated. I am not as good as who I falsely believed myself to be. And although I actually hate to admit that someone else is better than me, it was a painful truth yet humbling experience to accept the fact that that might be true.
- NOT to judge a book by its cover. It’s easy to know and even easier to say but to put that into practice truly, is one hell of a difficult task. We are humans after all — we are hardwired to form impressions and that is why stereotypes exist. But change is gradual — constant reminders and practice of thoughts and behaviours will eventually make it a habit.
- Practice your mantra. It is understandably hard to remember who you want to be all the time. Like I said, it’s easy to say but difficult to do. It takes practice and constant, conscious effort to change. It takes time.
For the reasons I’ve outlined above, I believe that solitude or having some alone time is a good thing because it enables one to have plenty of space to reflect, to think about what he has done wrong and how he could change for the better. So here’s my confession of my wrongdoings and I hope by reading this, you’ll be persuaded to reflect — on whatever it may be; your actions, your thoughts, your words, your behaviour — because at the end of the day, you may not be as lucky as I am to have people honestly letting you know what you have done wrong.