Suffer for Who You Are

In many ways 2018 has been an exciting year for me. I’ve joined Clover Health as a software engineer, become a crisis counselor at a suicide hotline, and was voted into the Board of Directors at the bookstore cooperative I work at. That being said, there’s never a better time to examine what’s happened to me than towards the end of the year. I don’t necessarily love to reflect on my growth, rather I like to see what I can take away from it and how I can become better.

So taking a step back and looking at all the problems of this year, how they’ve occurred, and what techniques I’ve learned to overcome them; I’ve recognized a common theme.

Repeating some of my past writings and sayings, it’s evident that lack of honesty and vulnerable communication is the root of many problems. In social, work, or even situations with myself I find being honest to be the most difficult thing. It requires me to be cognizant of my setting, my emotional leaps, and others. I’ve always tended to be an emotional and neurotic person (fun fact: my Myers-Briggs personality is INFJ) and that hasn’t changed a bit.

And so to reiterate, I find that honesty is the biggest thing I’ve walked away. It takes a lot of guts to be honest in a world filled with reasonable insecurities and pride. It takes a lot of sacrifices and putting all your cards out there, letting folks know that this is who you truly are. And finally it takes a lot of awareness / mindfulness of the present. It takes emotional burden to take a step back to care for yourself and respect others.

I’ve realized that a lot of my disagreements over situations stemmed from miscommunication. Spoken or written language is nuanced in the sense that it is multifaceted and multi-layered. Whether or not we intend it to be, the words we speak and the sounds we make carry multitudes across different ears. It’s wonderful in a way, but also has unintended consequences.

“I am large. I contain multitudes.” - Walt Whitman

In some ways it’s unfortunate we don’t have some universal method of communication. Consequently I think it is difficult to be honest in a world where people are so vast and contain different backgrounds. Many philosophers have argued that the world is created by the language that we choose (Wittgenstein and some others subscribe to this philosophy).

The silver lining is that there’s a remedy for this. It is also the case that this remedy is not a panacea to all problems. Angela Davis said to some degree that perfection will never be reached, and when one summit is acquired, many other problems tend to form. But we can’t stay still. We can’t maintain the world as it is. Because of all the suffering and pain that is happening, it doesn’t require much explanation to realize that we need to change.

And so people always ask… how do we start? Do we start by letting the floodgates open? Do we start by letting everything out? Or do we trickle problems out one by one? How do we heal?

By letting each other know how we truly feel. By having integrity towards ourselves. By being vulnerable and letting other people in. And yes, it does hurt. It hurts much more than anything else. But at least the end of it, we can say we tried our best.

“Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” - Antonio Gramsci