Monday, August 10, 2009

You Know What Your Problem Is?

Lately, I have had a ton on my mind. That probably explains the quasi-permanent migraine I've been sporting for nearly 2 months now--which was so bad it even drove me to find a doctor and seek treatment--a huge deal for those that know me and my desire to avoid doctors if I can help it. The past few weeks, however, a lot of stressful things in all aspects of my life came to a head. I've been very discouraged and angry the past few days about how everything is seeming to come down at once. I felt sad, downright crushed, as some of my hopes turned out to be disillusions.
The other day, I was discussing my frustrations and anger with my dad and he offered this insight.
"Hey, Carly, do you know what your problem is?" For the record, I am always (wisely) wary of any conversation that starts with that statement. It tends to mean I'm about to find out the problem lies not with the other people I'm blaming and places it squarely on my shoulders, which is my least favorite place for a problem to be.
The only answer in my head was, "People suck?" (As I said, it'd been a rough couple days on multiple fronts and I wasn't exactly feeling all up with people)
"No, you take issue with injustice, and always have. But you're real problem is that you persistently believe that people will change and do the right thing given the right information. Usually, however, people are who they are, they don't change. That's why when people do change, it's so remarkable, because most of the time, people keep doing what they're doing even if it doesn't work for them or anyone else."

Interesting, if depressing thought. At least in regards to me, however, it is certainly true--I keep thinking that when people are behaving horribly, rudely, or stupidly, it must be because they don't know better. If someone would just teach them, they'd be nice, smart, and pleasant. If they could see how nice a person was they wouldn't hate them anymore, or if they could see that they were hurting their family members they would stop a specific behavior. Despite a thousand instances to the contrary, I just keep thinking that "someday they'll learn," which not only means other people don't change, but that I seem to be incapable of changing my mindset that someday they will! My dad added his thoughts as explanation as to why I'm so often crushed and disappointed. I see something happen that should have taught a lesson I'd been hoping for, but the lesson doesn't do anything to inspire change, and I feel depressed and discouraged.

One thing is for sure, my dad does have my number--I've always been stymied and disheartened by a lack of change. For example, with all the groups trying to raise awareness of AIDS in Africa, why are the numbers still skyrocketing? With all the research out there about why teens raising babies is a recipe for disaster, and all the options to prevent pregnancy in the first place, and tons of groups and options to assist families if prevention falls through, why are instances of teen pregnancy and young single mothers so high in one of the most developed countries in the world? Further, with instances of infertility and unwanted pregnancy simultaneously rising, why are adoptions to put the two together actually dropping? I understand the pull of addiction can be too strong for many smokers, but with all the research in our faces every day on the dangers of smoking, why do new smokers light up and start the habit every day? If "awareness" is truly the answer touted by social groups and governments, why hasn't it answered anything yet? I ask myself this on a regular basis. So, yes, my dad was right about a few things, especially in regards to my own personal peeves.

Whether he was right about people being unable to change is really another discussion for another day. Right now, I'm inclined to agree with him, but at happier times, I know I could find examples that would prove that people can be better than expected, and they don't always fall short. I'm not laying this conversation out as my new outlook on life or anything, because there wasn't a lot to really inspire hope and happiness, but I'm mentioning it because the whole concept made me laugh.
I couldn't help it. I laughed right into the phone and said "Dad. So what you're telling me is that despite all the times you've called me grizzled, harsh, and crotchety, and told me I'm the youngest and girliest grumpy old man you've ever known, my real problem this whole time has been that I'm just too darn optimistic?!"
"Yeah, I guess."

Oh, the irony!

So if you see me in the next little while, and I look angry enough to kick someone, just think to yourself--"ahh, her optimism is killing her again! She should really be less hopeful." Then try not to laugh, I dare you.


Crow Family said...

How is your head doing? Hope the Dr helped

Kym said...

Sometimes, it annoys me that Bryan is so optimistic. I live with my reality inspired pessimism that keeps my feet on the ground. Bryan, on the other hand, always has his head in the clouds (or in front of the computer monitor). On rare occasions, I have visited his bubble-like residence for the mind. It does have a nice view, even if it's not so practical. ;-)