Not everyone is a jerk-wad loser!
For those of you who know me, you know that I’m a glass-half-full type of gal; oftentimes, the glass isn’t even half-full, so much as overflowing. So I’m an optimist: so what? I’m not delusional; I just think it’s more fun to go through life with a smile on your face! After all, it does take more muscles to frown than to smile, so why not conserve energy? So then, what’s with the title of this post? How could I, the self-proclaimed Ms. Sunshine and Rainbows be too bitter?
Circumstances have a huge impact on your behaviour. I know, I know: I’m the first to admit that it’s not the circumstances, so much as how you choose to deal with them. And for a control-freak like me, it’s hard when you can’t control how others act. I know, I know, I know. On the other hand, sometimes circumstances or situations can grab hold of you, exhibit some sort of power over you, and even change you – maybe not forever, but for a long while.
How cliché: I’m going to talk about my first love. But it gets better, I swear, so bear with me through some of the gory details. Like all “first loves”, we seemed to instantly click. It was one of those, “Oh my God! You hate emptying the dishwasher, too?”, situations. Now I know that anyone that has been around longer than 22 years will tell me: you were not in love. But indulge me for a second: I think I was. I fell hard and fast. I don’t have another frame of reference so there’s no telling, yet.
But things went bad, very quickly. Mr. X was clearly not ready for a relationship, which was communicated by the ever classy, phasing out. I knew I would get over it, but I didn’t know that a relationship that consisted of one and a half dates and a few months of being jerked around would take two years to get past; and in these two years, I would become what I like to call a (cue dark, ominous music here) a Bitter Betty.
I was literally too bitter for life. Forget smiling at people: all men were bad. All of them. Humanity, as it would seem, was going to pot, so we might as well all just become hermits. Any boy who approached me had an agenda: he was probably cheating on his girlfriend, he was inconsistent or, for some unknown reason, he was a Jerk-Wad Loser (JWL). It was not until my incredibly blunt sister pointed out to me that I was “kinda bitter”, that I realized what had happened. I realized why I panicked every time I did something wrong and why I was obsessed with being perfect and petrified of making a mistake. I didn’t think I was good enough for Mr. X or for anyone. He left me because there was something wrong with me, and I had been feeding my soul this message for the past two years. The once confident, bubbly Zoyah was now sad, unfulfilled and feeling incredibly inadequate.
So what changed? Well, it was sort of like a “snap out of it!” type of reaction. I looked at myself and realized that the thoughts going through my head weren't true at all. I wasn’t the one with the problem. But this was not sufficient - what was most impactful about the whole experience was realizing how much I had learned about myself by going through it. Sure, it sucked at the time – no one likes to be rejected – but as an African Proverb states, “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”. I learned five fundamental truths about myself and reversed the too bitter train:
1. I am awesome: no ifs, ands or buts about it! Whenever that shadowy, doubtful feeling comes over me now, I tell myself: you are awesome. Tell yourself whatever you need to hear to get yourself out of that moment: I have great hair, I am super smart, I have a butt that won’t quit! Whatever. Just praise yourself, and praise yourself often. Soon enough, you’ll start to believe it!
2. I am not a cheap rug, I am a human being: so stop walking all over me! Whether it was Mr. X dictating the progression of the relationship, your parents or your peers, it is never okay not to have a say in your own welfare and well-being. So tell your Mr. X where he can stick it if he’s trying to manipulate you. It’s not fair to be manipulated, and it sure as heck isn’t fun: you deserve better.
3. If you don’t respect yourself, no one is going to respect you. I am a big believer in the “you have to teach people how to treat you” rule. Mr. X was a huge fan of calling when it was convenient for him: which turned out to be at midnight or later. For an early riser like me, this was annoying. But I didn’t say anything. So how was Mr. X supposed to know how much I hated being woken up in the middle of the night if whenever I answered the phone, I would say “no it’s okay! I can talk!”. Be honest with others, but mostly with yourself.
4. Bearing grudges is a waste of time and energy: and I don’t like waste. Let’s not lie: things are not always going to be dandy, ok? Not all exes can be friends with one another; in fact, most can’t. Your heart will always skip a beat when you see your Mr. X and you’ll probably get jealous when you see him with his new beau. But remember, holding a grudge won’t get you anywhere! I heard a line from “Eat, Pray, Love” that I never forgot. When you think of your Mr. X in a good light or a not so good light, just “send him love and light, and then drop it!”. Plus, the best revenge seems to be moving on. Just because we’re sending love and light does not mean that we can’t enjoy a little one-upmanship!
5. Not everyone is a JWL! Really, it’s true! So smile at people. Be your beautiful self. You never know where you’re going to find your person: it could be at the coffee shop, at church, volunteering or at the bus stop! I like to believe that people are inherently good: I haven’t come across too many really bad seeds in my life. Maybe a few confused seeds who couldn’t seem to tell heads from tails (*cough* Mr. X *cough*), but not really many bad seeds. Give people a chance: after all, you’d love for them to give you one!
Not everything is always sunshine and daisies, but it’s not dark and twisty all the time either. So do yourself a favour, and gain a positive outlook. Not for Mr. X, not for Joe Schmo down the street, not for your mother, but for yourself.
--Zoyah is a fourth year biology student with a penchant for baking and the gift of gab. She can’t make a decision to save her life, and loves to laugh. In her spare time she enjoys ordering overly complicated drinks at Starbucks, doing impressions, forgetting her keys everywhere and trying to explain her research to anyone who will listen.