I saw a post on Facebook this morning that made me think. It essentially said something like, “I’d rather see people who are kind and have learned through things in their life than people who have become tough and hard through them.”
I tend to agree.
I have not been through as many things as some people, and I’ve been through more than others, but I have to say that I hope I haven’t become hardened by it.
My boundaries may have become firmer. I may be a little more wary about indiscriminately trusting people, but I don’t think I’m harder.
If anything, I am probably more compassionate towards people who are struggling with things that are going on in their lives.
I didn’t used to be. I used to be SO judgmental. That’s just a fact.
In my early 20’s, things seemed very simply black or white. Good or bad. Wrong or right.
I’d like to say my first steps towards changing those beliefs happened while I was at university, but really, the people I hung out with a lot of the time only furthered those beliefs.
It wasn’t until I started work as a bartender of all things, that I learned that there is some grey. Not every person who is addicted to something is bad. Most in fact, are amazingly bright souls who came to be my friends and people who I would come to love. I mourn to this day when one loses their battle, and celebrate when someone is able to successfully rise above.
I learned that life circumstances, biochemistry, and a host of other reasons can bring a person down. It doesn’t have to be into a bar, that was just my first real introduction to human suffering.
My own path with mental illness has taught me a great deal more about patience, understanding, the cycles of relapse and recovery, and how to be humble.
I know that but for the grace of God I’d be still sitting in that bar as a customer. It would have been SO easy to slide into that life. It was fun, I had a ton of friends, and I loved the environment and people.
I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had, though. The ones that were positive, the ones that were difficult, and the ones that I simply survived.
I’m a much better person because of those things. I hope my heart is guarded better, but not tough. I hope I’m learning where to draw firm lines, but not to shut people out. I hope I’m learning how to love and be loved in a way that I never could have been before.
Growth is sometimes painful and it’s sometimes beautiful.
It’s often both.
Image from Pexels.