‘So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and that I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.’
-Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
It’s been two months since I’ve made the decision to take a year off, and I think it has been good for me. I’ve crossed two off the bucket list – the very plebeian Boracay trip and parasailing, which turned out to be less scary than I thought it would be. It was more like you were sitting on a hammock, except you were high up in the air, and if you didn’t think about how old and rusty the chains were, and how if it broke, the irony would be in that you would be the doctor closest to the situation, except you would most likely be incapacitated — you’d be okay, and anyway, I digress. It was fun.
I don’t have a plan as of now. I only have outlines. I don’t know how it will come to be, but I just want to be part of something that’s bigger than myself.
‘… It’s just that sometimes people use thought to not participate in life.’
I will go beyond thinking about this. To know what I should do, and how I’m going to do it, I will turn to prayer, family, people I respect (an umbrella term for friends and those who don’t fall neatly into a category) and literature. Come January 2012, I’ll be setting up meetings, reading books, doing proper research, so by August of next year, the decisions I make will be the ones that are right for me, and not merely the ones that win because they are the most convenient at the time.
I recently bought The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because I heard Emma Watson was going to star in the movie version. Though she seems to have a good head on her shoulders, and a pretty head at that, I prefer having books that have non-movie covers. In general, it was a good read, but it wasn’t particularly earth-shattering for me. Of note, however, were these particular passages (not in order).
‘My dad said, “There are other people who have it a lot worse.” ‘
Even before reading Perks, this was something I often told myself whenever I felt bad or had PMS. I find that perspective does help, and that hopelessness and helplessness are relative terms. I also read in Life’s Little Instruction Book, that one shouldn’t allow self-pity, and should it strike, to do something nice for someone less fortunate than you.
Sometimes, that isn’t enough, though.
‘I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad.’
This made me laugh, because a friend and I once talked about how we were both picky eaters as kids. Her grandmother tried to guilt her into eating by saying that there were so many children who had nothing to eat, which she countered, internally, with the logic that even if she ate everything, they’d still be hungry — which I’m sure was not the point her grandmother wanted to make.
Going back, there are times when comparisons don’t work. The thing about your problems is that, despite the universality that allows you to relate to Every Sad Song ever written, your problems are yours. And that makes them heavier, somehow. I find that if perspective doesn’t work off bat, you just stick it out. Some people are lucky enough to have friends, or even one person, who will stick it out with them. Some people aren’t as fortunate. Even then, stick it out.
‘It’s just different. Maybe it’s good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there.’
Stick it out, because change is unavoidable, and things have to go somewhere. But the direction is dependent on your choices, and there’s no true black and white in these situations.
‘Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it’s no excuse.’
When I was in a really bad place, I made the decision to allow myself to heal at my own pace. There were certain trade-offs, but I made a decision, stuck it out, and one day woke up and realized that the problem I have had for so long wasn’t the first thought I had that day. It was a small victory, but I took it. I take my small victories to this day. While I can’t say that I’m completely okay, I can say that I’m better.
‘So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.’