I was one of those annoying know-it-all people. You couldn’t tell me sh** I already hadn’t formed an opinion on. While I was a bit more ‘woke’ than the average youngster, there were concepts I couldn’t wrap my head around even if my life depended on it, if for nothing else, for the simple fact that some things you have to experience to truly understand. So here’s a list of some realities of life people don’t usually talk about, realities I wish someone had force-fed me to spare many tears and heartbreaks.
You are not special.
This is a tough one to swallow since everyone told you how beautiful/handsome/smart/kind/hardworking and oh-just-so-special you are when you were growing up. Yeah, not really. There’s always someone that’s better looking/smarter/kinder/more hard working. There will be times in your life when you’ll be ignored, dismissed, sometimes treated as if you’re less than. You’ll realize you’re replaceable at your job and someone will stumble all over your heart and break it. That’s life. But here’s the thing, you can become special, it’s just that you’ll have to work actively at it. What will make you special are things like your ability to persevere gracefully through difficulty, your ability to care for another human being just like you want others to care for you and your capacity to love others even when they least deserve it. Now, if you’re able to do such things, then maybe you might be up for the trophy.
Money is important.
Allow me to quote Kanye West here, “having money isn’t everything, not having it is.” Modern society has constructed a reality where we’ve made money so important that without it, it’s almost impossible to be happy. ‘Almost’ being the key word here. The actual truth is that it is possible to be happy without money. In fact, the happiest people I know don’t have a lot of it. The source of who they are has nothing to do with it. But you and I are not these people. We neither have the strength or the consciousness to understand that once our basic needs are met, money doesn’t add to our level of happiness. We are products of our societies, so we’ll want that house, this car, those fancy outfits, that vacation, the retirement fund… the list goes on. While my conscious self will tell you to spend more time cultivating, say your relationship with your creator and his creations, my other self that’s grounded in the reality that we’ve collectively constructed, the part that understands how weak our egos are, how easily we’re influenced by our environment and how dead-brained we walk around most days of the week, will tell you that you need money to be happy. While it shouldn’t be your driving force, having it will give you the free time and mental space to sit around and contemplate the vastness of the universe and your relative insignificance in it. Haha, just kidding, the more money you acquire, the busier you’ll get trying to get even more of it.
You will fail, a lot.
Life is freakishly hard. So hard you’ll have many days where you won’t want to leave your bed and face it. You will pour your heart out towards a personal/career/spiritual goal and you will fail. You will meet the perfect woman but learn soon after that she can never be yours or worse yet, you marry her and face a severe disappointment when you realize she’s only human, with flaws and all, not the idealized version of perfection you pictured in your head. You’ll invest your hard earned money and lose it in a heartbeat. You’ll sweat hours at the gym and quit 3 month later when you realize you’ve gained 5 pounds. From your “serious” goals to the superficial ones, you will experience failures. Sometimes your failures will be because of circumstances that are completely out of your control, in which case you’ll have to learn to live with it. Other times it will be because you were not good enough or you didn’t try hard enough, so you’ll have to learn to wallow in your misery for sometime then learn to dust it all off and try again. The fact is that such things will happen and you’ll have to find ways to deal with it (how easy it is to type these words, how difficult it is to live it).
Looks do matter.
We all like to think that it’s what is on the inside that matters, which of course is a fundamental truth. But since when has truth managed to dictate our actions? People will make judgments about you based on how you look. People who are deemed good looking are generally treated better. We smile more at cuter babies, we view overweight people as lazy and good looking people on average are more successful. While the only thing this proves is how pathetic we are as a species, the fact still remains – your looks is part of what you’ll be judged on.
There are times where no one will be there for you.
There will be times in your life where you will feel utterly alone. This may be because you don’t have anyone to share your problem with or the people that are there just don’t quite understand. Or you might find yourself in situations where you will be incapable, unwilling or too afraid to share the pain and the dark spaces in your mind with another human being. Whatever the reason maybe, in these situations, you’ll be forced to find your own way out of the darkness, the difficulty, the pain. No one can love or support you out of your darkness; you’ll have to do it on your own. The good news here is, you are very much capable.
Love is not enough.
You’ve imagined it a million times, the perfect relationship where you’ll love him with all your heart and he’ll do the same. You tell yourself as long as you have each other, you can handle anything that comes at you, you have love, what else could you possibly need? Haha, I don’t know if I want to laugh or cry writing this. Love is not enough. Go back and read that sentence again. While love is the foundation of any healthy relationship, it is not enough. Sex, money, compatibility, communication skills, life philosophies, values… have just as much weight. The importance of these things usually becomes apparent through time. Love might bring two people together, but it will not be the only thing that will sustain them.
We’re all wearing masks.
Most of us, most days of the week are walking around wearing masks. We may change the mask depending on who we’re interacting with – friends, family, lovers, bosses… We’re so use to wearing our masks that most times we’re not even aware of it. The most confident guy walking around in his fancy suit is probably attempting to cover up a constant anxiety of failure, the most assured of women might be exhausted trying to keep it all together. But all this, you’ll never know. This is one of the reasons we love and crave intimacy so much. We want to meet someone with whom we can take our masks off, someone who truly sees us. If you meet this person/people or you already have them in your life, consider yourself very lucky.
Everything we do is a distraction.
Here’s the last and most vital truth absolutly no one tells you about life – everything we do in this life – the career, the marriage, the kids, the cars, the house, the constant chase of this or that – is basically a distraction from the impossibly difficult condition of being a conscious, thinking soul on this earth while possessing a body which will someday decay and be eaten by worms. But hey, let’s make this one a conversation for another day. I don’t want to lose you as a reader just yet.
So yeah, here is your dose of reality for the day. Please don’t leave this page disheartened by some of the seemingly harsh realities I’ve shared here, because there is that other side of the coin I haven’t talked about. The side where love, courage, kindness and hope reside, where there’s built within us a strength that can overcome seemingly insurmountable pain and anguish, a strength that will allow you to even laugh while you’re at it all.