When I was still a kid, I thought it was common and acceptable for children of my age to be bitter and jealous of others’ small successes.
It was ok to curse and swear at your competitor whom you have lost to at the ball game during P.E. lesson. It might even be ok to secretly ridicule your best friend in a deep, dark corner of your mind when he scored badly in the end-of-year exam while your teacher praised you for topping the class.
It was ok, because we were young and ignorant at that age where we have not gone through enough in life to overcome our most basic impulses to be selfish and mean.
While I give such bitter kids an one-minute-lecture on how we should be more encouraging and kind when I see them drowning in delight from watching others stumble and fall, I wouldn’t label them bad people. They are still taking baby steps to be a better person.
Come adolescence, and I must admit it was the worst (this subjective term shall be in no way interpreted as being literally void of beauty) period of life. Boys turn into part-time perverts, and girls become too needy for love. It’s like we lost ourselves momentarily.
Being bitter got to a whole new level – there was so much more negative gossiping and backstabbing. There were so much rumours about people being flirts and blabbermouths which essentially pin them down to worthy of being outcasted. Oh and, please spare me the lurid details of your private bedroom activities next time.
It’s still ok. It is all because of a condition named puberty, you know? They’ll find their way out soon.
Then we became young adults, and got transfixed on the tangible achievements in life. I need to have a successful career. I need to start a business that will change the world. I need to have moolah.
Sometimes we don’t score well enough to get to university. Sometimes we didn’t become the valedictorian we thought we would be. Sometimes having a successful career isn’t as easy as we thought it would be. Sometimes we didn’t become more good looking like how others said we will as grow up to become men and women.
Judging others negatively makes us feel better.
“That lipstick looks awful on her.”
“He didn’t deserve that scholarship. He got it by luck and charisma.”
“So what if he earns all that money in his life? He walks a lonely journey in life.”
More often than not, our judgements are actually right. Our comments hit their weaknesses spot on. But, so what? You can’t change the fact that what has happened, has happened and will remain a fact. They indeed did better in life than us.
At this stage of being a young adult, when I still hear others passing bitter comments in a bid to make themselves feel better, I inevitably sigh. I’ve been there, done that. And as I judge myself in retrospect, I felt pity for the one who resort to being bitter to feel better.
Perhaps I could have continued being bitter like that, oh just endow myself with the excuse of going through a quarter-life crisis. But I start to ask myself, when am I going to achieve that kind of inner peace that I’ve always envisioned – the state of mind to be calm, kind, loving, respectful and wise? Wise enough to know that being bitter is only a vicious cycle that will make me feel worse.
If the time is not now, then when? I don’t want to be bitter anymore. I don’t want to put people down so that it makes me look better. It only makes my world look ugly and distasteful when I put a negative connotation to things that are supposedly good in this world.
I learnt to appreciate others’ successes. And I hang on to the cliché of learning from others’ successes. No matter how much you actually dislike a person, there has actually got to be some things that you can learn from that person. (With the exception of ultimate scums living in this world)
I didn’t immediately see everything in a good light. But somewhere within my heart I know that being appreciative is a crucial step to being a better person.
I started to give compliments a little more freely. From one pretty girl in my class, three quarter of the girls became pretty too along the way. From cursing at (undeserving) scholarship recipients (whilst I didn’t get one), to understanding how they did better than me and what particularly I can improve on myself. You get the idea.
It might seem dramatic but the world became more beautiful as I appreciate things for what they are. Not being bitter didn’t make me feel bad. It made me feel happier everyday as everything around me seems more pleasing.
Sometimes happiness is just as simple as that. In the blink of an eye the world becomes beautiful. Work that magic with your mind.
I know it is human nature to be bitter when we are going through a terrible phase in life. Don’t beat yourself up over that, but ask yourself – How long are you going to continue being so? If now is not the time to change, then when? I think right now is the best time.
That aside, I’ve seen some people who are so bitter for too long that I doubt their ability to change. Such rare, extreme cases make me feel sad for their personality. I can only manage to utter : Goodness gracious me. Bless your evil soul. I cannot think of anything that can help you except for a little prayer.
So it goes.