Note: I originally wrote this on September 28, 2015. Rereading it now, I realize it was the beginning of this project I've been calling Warglitter.
back in november 2012, a friend of mine died after a long battle with disease. i hadn’t spoken to her in a while, but she was the kind of person who made sure she let everyone know how much she loved them, so when she died, i didn’t have to worry. i knew where we stood even though i hadn’t talked her in a while.
i am not that kind of person. i feel a desire to be affectionate all the time, but i am not a very affectionate person (besides hugs. i mastered hugs long ago). after my friend’s death, i decided that i wanted to be the kind of person who, if something happened to me, the people who mattered to me and who i loved wouldn’t have a doubt in their minds regarding where we stood. i felt pressure to be a kinder, nicer person in addition to being as genuine as possible.
this created a complication. i am sort of notoriously the opposite of nice. it’s kinda my thing. i’m that really sassy, direct friend you appreciate because her bitchiness is funny. that’s how i’ve been making friends for years: joke bitchiness. a lot of people don’t get the joke and it’s a fine line because if you act like a bitch, then you are a bitch, but when you find people who get the joke and they’re in on it with you, it’s really a lot of fun. it makes me feel understood.
almost as soon as i made the declaration in my journal that i would try to be nicer, the universe sent me an adversary. and i won’t get into it, but i basically have an entire journal devoted to hating this girl, in some cases with good reason but mostly out of jealousy. i was jealous because someone i had been trying to make friends with for several months clearly preferred her. and i hated a lot of things about her unfairly because they reminded me of a younger version of myself.
i originally saw this turn of events as a test sent to me by the universe. oh, you want to be nicer? here, try this obnoxious person. oh, you can’t be nice to her? well, then you failed at being a better person, obviously. have a nice life of being bitchy.
but i’m not bitchy. i’m funny. and i’m not pretending to be nice. i’m trying to make good choices about what i offer other people.
last week, i messaged a guy who is one of my classes and asked him if he was ok because he’d missed an important class where we both happened to be scheduled to present to the class on our final projects. he responded saying he’s in a really bad situation. his heat is out and he is sick. he had emailed the professor but had also used up all of his available absences and would probably be seeing a major hit to his grade.
without even thinking, i asked him if he needed a place to crash. i kind of immediately regretted it as soon as i hit send because my parents were on their way down for thanksgiving and were supposed to be staying with us a few nights. also, i already knew exactly how my husband would feel about me inviting a sick stranger who is currently dropping the ball to stay with us. and how weird is it to have the old woman in one of your undergrad classes ask you if you want to stay with her? but you know what? i still think it was the right thing to do. if you have a warm house with an extra bed or couch, you’re supposed to offer it up to an acquaintance in need. even if he judges me as creepy, i feel like i did the right thing.
i think being nice isn’t really what it’s all about. you can be nice and still give no shits whether or not the people around you succeed. last spring, i ran into that girl the universe sent to test me and she was really nice to me. and guess what? i was really nice to her, too. nice isn’t that hard. nice can be faked. but if she was sick and her heat was out, would i offer her a room in my house? i’m working on it. i’m getting better. it helps that i’ve realized that the universe didn’t send her to me to test me. have you ever run into someone you’ve idealized, or in this case, demonized, only to realize they were never all that you made them out to be in your head?
the universe sent her to me because she is so like me when i was younger, and it needed to hold up a mirror and force me to stand face to face with the person i used to be. i was in a liminal phase and the universe wanted me to stop looking back at “the good old days” and really commit to making this positive change for myself. it wanted me to forgive myself for being shallow, self-centered, and acting selfishly. it needed me to explicitly say, “I do not want to be that person anymore,” before i could do the work towards becoming the kind of person who can make good decisions about what i offer other people.
it’s taken me three years to get to a point where i am starting to feel a real positive change, and a lot of different things have factored into that. going back to school and finding self-worth through actively working towards bettering myself and my position, quitting a job that had, for a long time, been reinforcing the idea that all humans are wretched shitheads, self reflection and discovery through tarot, and actively seeking out new friends (even if some people aren’t interested in me no matter how hard i try) have all been contributors towards these changes that i am only starting to notice the interconnectedness of now. my friend who first inspired me through the way she lived her life has been with me every step of the way for these three years, and i may not have stuck with it if she hadn’t stuck with me.
whatever it is, if there is a change you want to make for yourself and your life, declare it now. write it down somewhere where you can find it again later. self-improvement isn’t easy and it won’t happen overnight. you may not even notice the change happening for a while, but stick with it. whatever it is, it’s worth it.