You Don't Have to Listen
One doesn’t have to look too long to find yet another guru, sage, psychoanalyst, self-help author, positive-thinking blogger, or (gasp) “religious” authority that will be more than happy to tell you how great you are (or can become), how much you have to offer, and how much you are loved. I’m now in the second half of my forties, and while I certainly won’t claim to have heard or read them all, I’ve experienced my share and then some.
I’ve even found some truth along the way. That stands to reason; if these people weren’t saying anything true, they probably wouldn’t sell many books, book many speaking engagements, or collect many therapy fees or donated dollars. Unfortunately, I’ve also found some sobering facts hidden beneath the sermons and the uplifting postings; painful realities buried amidst the proliferation of anecdotes and the feel-good imagery.
Perhaps the truth that I presently feel most acutely is the hypothetical nature of a reasonable percentage of the speakers’ messages. Some of those who are most apt to present flowery words would do better, I think, to include addendums to their proverbial sound-bites. They could be credited for honesty, at least, if they’d say things like, “You have so much to offer… to other people,” or perhaps, “you could be so great… if you were only younger.” As for love – well, how about: “God loves you, but the rest of us are kinda busy,” or for atheists and agnostics: “The universe is filled with love – why not go to another part of it and find some?”
I must admit that it’s difficult to not be overwhelmed with bitterness. I’ve had it with hearing all of the reasons that I’m not good enough, particularly from the people who just finished telling me at length and in no uncertain terms that I am good enough. Maybe you’ve had it, too. And we should make no mistake about it; that’s what they’re saying: “You’re not good enough.” Whether it’s because you’re too short, too tall, too pale, too dark, too bald, too freckled, too poor, too old, too young, and/or just too different, that’s what you’re being told when the theoretical uplifting talk comes to an end and the time for backing it up begins. The rubber meets the road at the point of personal interaction. I’m fed up with the seemingly endless supply of quotes, encouraging words, and even Bible verses from people who spew them out like a desktop calendar, but won’t come up with the time, interest, or basic decency to answer an e-mail, respond to a text, talk on the phone, or hang out. It’s all just so much blather.
It turns out that one can actually become a “professional posi-talker.” You can get certified to say things designed to make people feel great about themselves, whether or not you are willing to back up the feel-good talk with even the smallest of actions. I can imagine the graduation ceremony: “Congratulations! You’ve earned a Bachelor of Bull Excrement.” Pomp and Circumstance plays in the background as the recipient dreams of one-hundred-dollars-plus-per-hour sessions of telling people things that they could go read in any positive-thinking book at the library for free.
You can get a degree to be a pastor, and get called (supposedly by God) to go to some church and relate half-truths to the congregation while dressed up in an extravagant costume, even if you yourself are a Godless person. You can write your own self-help book and rack up money on the motivational speaking circuit, even if you're the one who needs help the most. Of course, there’s always the licensed psychologist/psychiatrist route, which is more than ever being subjugated to political correctness and pseudo-science. It seems the lunatics have nearly taken over that asylum.
There are all kinds of ways to become adept at the verbosity of alleged encouragement and “person-building,” but there’s no degree that I’m aware of that qualifies a person to actually care about others, or that guarantees that he or she will treat people with kindness and respect. It’s a rare person who will tell you that you’re great – that you matter – and then will prove it by inviting you into his or her inner circle (or at least take a couple of minutes to offer a valid reason as to why you don't belong there).
I’ve been accused of being an isolationist, and I can’t say that the accuser(s) were entirely wrong. Certainly some of that is my own fault, but I also claim innocence to a fair degree, because I’ve made plenty of efforts. Whether they were auditions and/or interviews to play with other musicians, attempts at dating or potential romance, or simple efforts at friendly and familial interaction, I’ve been met with a brick wall a whole lot of the time. I wish I could say that I knew with absolute certainty that they weren’t right to shun me. But if you repeatedly receive the message that you’re not worthy, it becomes quite a challenge to not believe it. Considering the amount of rejection experienced, it’s a good thing I don’t pay attention to the numerous preachers who (despite their claims to Biblical knowledge) essentially give the green-light to suicide. If I did, I might have offed myself by now. But I don’t listen to them.
And that’s the point of this posting: you don’t have to listen, either. You don’t have to pay attention to the people who prattle on and on about your intrinsic worth and human value while simultaneously and subtly disclosing to you that they really believe you’re not good enough. If, like me, you’ve already lost a lot of time trying to get your ducks in a row, the last thing you need to absorb from others is that it’s too late for you to reach your potential and find fulfillment. Being spurned and spending a lot of time alone can be a drag, but it’s preferable to surrounding yourself with naysayers and negativity; negativity that’s even worse when it’s couched in positivity. I for one don’t need any more cleverly disguised disingenuousness. I don’t think you do, either.
You don’t have to listen.