I’ve gone back and forth on whether to post this or not given I don’t think it paints me in a great light. I’ve decided to go for it though as I feel like it also shows that I’ve gotten better and am trying to be better and figure that’s not a bad thing to talk about.
I’ve been what I’d consider to be very lucky in my lifetime, I grew up in stable home with parents that loved each other and me, and the people I went to school with were largely the same. I never met anyone who had divorced parents until I started working at 17. As such I had a very specific view of the world and there was things I didn’t really understand or consider outside of my particular experience at that point.
With the benefit of hindsight a fair few of my viewpoints have been dickish at best, the way I’ve acted towards people has sometimes been problematic, especially towards people I consider friends. I’ve been incredibly lucky over the years as I’ve made incredibly good friends who I’ve learned from, who’ve been patient with me and who have stuck by when I’ve not always deserved loyalty like that. It’s been humbling and incredibly enlightening.
These days I consider myself to be reasonably open minded, I’m open to learning about things I don’t understand and I want to be someone that doesn’t hate people or mock people because of circumstances outside of their control, traumas they’ve suffered, choices they’ve made or just who they are. It’s just odd to get to a point where you’re used to a certain way of thinking and then gradually that way of thinking is changed as a result of the people you surround yourself with, be it friends, family or work colleagues.
It’s something that’s been hugely eye opening over the years, turns out I was a bit of a prick when I was younger. I still am now to be perfectly honest, I think I’m just much more self aware than I was back then, coupled with the fact that I want to be a better person. As such I try to learn and listen to people, it’s taken time to develop that particular skill being the stubborn, opinionated prick I am but I have to say it’s been one of the most personally rewarding things I’ve done.
There was never any hatred in my thinking when I was younger, I was just the typical idiot who didn’t consider other people when I’d be joking about things. I was also the typical dickhead who thinks making jokes about topics like rape and calling your friends gay as an insult is the height of comedy, and you brush it off as just having a dark sense of humour. In my case I was just an oblivious wanker that didn’t really know much about the world and Jesus it showed more than I’d care to admit.
I think my view of things started to change when I started working at Virgin Megastore when I was about 20. I worked with a decent number of people that were gay or bisexual and basically realised they were just people. This seems so bloody obvious to me now and I question why I was so stupid but I’m just glad I was able to get past that way of thinking as it led to me making some really good friend, becoming more comfortable with myself as a person and just generally making myself more aware of some of the crap they have to deal with from people like I was or worse.
I think and hope that that’s the crux of the human experience, you meet people you care about and you learn to empathise with life experiences that differ from your own. I’m friends with people that have been raped and that immediately stopped me making jokes about it, that perspective of them having to have dealt with that kind of trauma just instantly stopped it being funny to me. For me it was one of those things where it made me angry at myself to think how callous I was and hoI could just make throwaway jokes about things like that. This is the wonderful thing about hindsight, it’s very easy to beat yourself up for past actions.
There’s loads of little things like the above examples that have happened over the years which have been really eye opening to me. From personal experience it’s very easy to just ignore things that don’t fit my worldview and don’t impact me but I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that not everything is about me. It’s been fascinating (sometimes morbidly so) learning more about these things, and I’m a little proud of myself where I’ve taken myself out of my comfort zone to do so, though I appreciate trying to be a non shit human should be the bare minimum.
I’d say I’m not sympathetic in the conventional sense, I don’t think I’m especially great knowing what to say in situations like that. I think I’ve become pretty good at listening and being a bit of a sounding board as I try to approach things from a logical standpoint. This has led to conversations with friends about things like counselling where I’ve had some experience which really helped me. I had a conversation with a friend about it once when she was considering and she said that talking to me about it had helped a little with the way she approached counselling and as a result the she found it a bit useful, it’s nice to know that while I’m learning from other people I have things to offer too.
I think that’s been the thing about my depression, I’m way too hard on myself. I’ve beaten myself up over the years and to be fair on my friends for the most part I don’t think they’ve had a problem with how I’ve been. Sure there will be disagreements about things but I’d like to think that they know I listen to them and take stuff seriously. If anything I’m hyper aware of how I can come across now, probably way more than I need to be in all honesty.
It’s weird because I see the way the world is changing, with racism being called out and with everyday sexism women deal with being highlighter it feels like we may actually wind up living in a world where people are capable of not being dicks to each other and if not necessarily accepting the differences of other people but being respectful and not being wankers about it. I suspect it’s going to be a slow going process to some extent but I figure any improvement of situation for people who are treated badly for things such as race, sexual orientation and things that have happened to them has to be embraced and has to be expanded.
Ultimately I am who I am now as a result of the people I’ve met, talked to, cared for and essentially wanted to learn from. I used to think as a kid I was open minded but I’m not sure I was, at least not on some topics. I’m not 100% sure I am fully now to be honest, I’m still very stuck in my way of thinking on alot of topics but I’m also trying to move away from that. I’m at least open minded enough to acknowledge I don’t know everything and to listen to people who know more about things than I do, which I figure is a decent enough
This has extended to my friends, I’m trying to be a little bit less argumentative with them and losing my temper when they’ll sometimes say things I disagree with. We’re all stubborn and opinionated so no good tends to come from getting wound up about stuff. I’ve taken this to the point where if things start to get as little heated in our group chat I’ll remove myself from there for a bit to cool off and make sure I don’t say anything I regret. I like to think I’m a slow learner in some respects but I do learn eventually.
I’m not sure how effective it’ll be but I know I’m at least willing to accept when I’m in the wrong and not get offended about it which seems to be the very least I can do. Ultimately though I want my nephew to grow up being someone can see past all these issues and just knows to treat people with decency and respect, the person I aspire to be in essence. Based on how he is at 2 and wanting to be friends with everyone I suspect I’m going to wind up being very proud of him, and probably learning a few things from him.
When all said and done I just want to be the best version me I can be, I want to be there for my friends and help them wherever I can and I want them to know how much they mean to me and the regard I hold them. I don’t want to hate people as it’s exhausting, but if I do hate someone I want it to be because they’re an arsehole rather than for any other reason. And most of all I just want to make my little corner of the world a little better where I can, it doesn’t feel like much overall but at the same time it feels like I’m doing something at least.
If you happened to have read this and stuck with it to the end thank you, I’m not really sure what the purpose of this was beyond trying to convey my mindset a little while also trying to make sense of it myself. I overthink alot so this has been rattling around in my head for weeks now, as a result it may be a little all over the place but I also like to think it comes from a good place and makes some kind of sense.