When I was little, I carried the notion that by the time you grow up, you’ve sorted out all your flaws. I never thought there was such a thing as a “perfect” person, but I did think adults lived peacefully and weren’t plagued by insecurity, jealousy, or selfishness, etc.
This is probably due to the fact that I had a very self-confident mother who to this day never loses her cool. This is the same mother who, upon hearing any adolescent drama, would always say “they’re just immature.” This led me to believe that there comes a time when maturity is reached and all fights are nipped in the bud.
Then one 11th grade afternoon, my mother revealed some adult drama between her and the mother of another girl in my class.
“Adults can be immature?!” I wondered.
All those years my mother had been dismissing my friends as immature, and her friends were doing it, too! Maturity now seemed like a myth society propagated in order to comfort children. Like the “It Gets Better” LGBT campaign on YouTube.
Some things don’t get better.
Since that 11th grade day, things have just gotten worse and worse. I keep discovering just how fucked up people can be. It’s like we go through life acquiring insecurities and sensitivities* and feverishly trying to rid ourselves of them lest our baggage get too heavy…cause you know ain’t nobody out there who wants to carry it for you. It’s a miracle we function as a society (and half the time, we don’t).
The biggest flaw humans share is not realizing our own power over others. I still remember when David J** told me in 7th grade to put my jacket back on because my skin was so pale and he didn’t want to look at it. Everyone has a story like that, and everyone has worse stories than that. We forget how deeply our voices can travel into someone’s brain. Those words and actions stay there forever, interconnecting us beyond the physical world.
Seeing that it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, it’s only fitting that I recognize my mother’s critical role in not fucking me up. I am blessed to have a happy, confident mom, who never pressured me to look, act, or eat a certain way. I used to resent not being signed up for soccer and ballet, but now I see that my mother’s hands-off approach empowered me to discover what it was that I wanted to seek out and be in the first place.
I want to be more cognizant of my influence on others. When I prayed for peace this morning in synagogue, I remembered that peace doesn’t come because you pray for it. It comes because you live it. I’ll try to keep my cool as well as you, Mommy.
*I wish I had understood this when I was studying acting in college. I would have been a much better actor if my base assumption was that humans could not break free from their flaws. (Instead I still carried my adolescent notion that we could overcome them.)
*names have been changed 🙂