This is a repost from my old blog: The Otter Guys.
Recently, someone close to me told me that he thought I was arrogant in the way I talk and undeserving of the lifestyle I lead, what with my love for travel.
He thought I wasn’t working hard enough for my own money and that my parents were just handing me everything that I have ever gotten on a silver platter. This came after years of silence. For a long time, he never once thought to tell me how he felt; he just let it build up over a period of years of silent tension.
He never once thought to ask me how I do the things I get to do, or what things I do on a daily basis to get these opportunities.
His silence manifested itself into something far worse than annoyance. It turned into contempt — contempt for the character of myself that he created in his mind. A false reality that became true in his head.
I’m not saying that I can’t be arrogant at times; I have strong beliefs and I may act a certain way as a result of my stubbornness.
I also realize that I am privileged to be able to have the opportunities to travel, surround myself in an environment of amazing people, and basically spend a day watching Netflix without having to worry about starving.
But it is hardly fair to judge me and make assumptions about my work ethic based on the rewards you notice in my life. There’s a reason I got those rewards, and maybe it’s part luck. Maybe it's part privilege. But it’s definitely a large part effort.
That’s why it’s incredibly frustrating for me; just because I get to have these amazing experiences and you don’t think I deserve it, does that mean I can’t enjoy the fruits of my labor?
I want to think that people who work smart and hard, deserve all that they get.
I realized at a young age that if the only thing you do is "work hard," you might not get everything you expect.
What people don't tell you, is that the game is about working hard and building up your social capital and communicating with other people your wants and interests that gets people to propel you to higher levels of opportunity.
So while this person thought he knew how hard I worked, he really had no clue. It's not a matter of whether I'm actually smarter or not (I'm not), it's just that I figured out how to succeed in the system I was put in.
With the way our world works, a lot of the time, life is about learning how to succeed in the system you're in, whether that is school, career, or sports.
And for the people who don't notice this game happening behind the scenes, I understand why this can be infuriating.
I can imagine the frustration and anger manifesting itself and culminating over the years, and the psychological effect it has on people.
I've definitely felt these things.
And in my situation, by not actively talking about these feelings, they grew to become so much worse than it should have been.
Think about fire; with time, you could do nothing and let it burn over a whole forest. Or, you could stamp it out whenever you noticed a hint of smoke.
That's why negativity should never be bottled up. My situation would have never been so catastrophic if we were both open from the beginning — that way, we would have let each other know how we were feeling and could fix ourselves before anything worse happened. We would also be building a true image of each other’s character, instead of these one-dimensional villain characters that we tend to manifest in silence.
Channel your negativity towards finding a solution.
Passive aggressiveness is not this solution. You have to be open. You have to be clear. And you have to be deliberate.
We can’t let our minds trick us into thinking a false reality in isolation. We have to interact with the world, to discover the true reality of things. How do we do that? Talk to your friends, your loved ones, your teachers. Stop letting your mind build a false character of the people in your life.
My happiness is really based on transparency. By being honest with how I feel to myself and to others, there's never any doubt about miscommunication. I never have to feel guilty about lying, and I usually don't have to question if other people are lying.
Be transparent with your relationships and use this to truly start understanding each other.