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It probably sounded horrible for me to say that trying to fix other people is a waste of time when you start improving yourself, but really, it’s an important lesson, and not as harsh as it sounds. If you’re still broken, no matter how many revelations you have, you’re really not in a position to counsel other people yet.
The bigger lesson is that true happiness, true growth, only comes from within you. You are the only person you can truly change in a major way. Somewhere down the road you’ll likely have positive effects on a lot of people, but that’s not what your focus should be. Your growth or lack thereof, your success of failure, does not and can not depend on anyone else. If you’re just trying to fix everyone else, you’re not helping yourself as much as you think.
One of the most important things I learned is that to be truly better, you have to keep going, changing, doing what you’re doing, even if every person around you is so broken that it makes you want to cry. You can’t hinge your progress on whether other people are growing or not. If you do, you’ll never get anywhere. You’ll spend years trying to make other people better, crying over their flaws and failures, and never getting yourself anywhere.
Eventually that expenditure of time and energy can turn into anger and resentment. Why won’t you get better? Why are you still holding me back? How can I change when I’m surrounded by this? It creates a downward spiral that will drain away any good that you’ve managed to accomplish. Self improvement is about you, and selfish though it may sound, you have to be your primary focus.
You should always love people and be good to them. Respect them and treat them the way you want to be treated. Be the better you to everyone around you, but don’t try to actively change them. Living by example is the best you can do when you start out, and really, it may be the best some people can ever do depending on who they’re around. Be as good to people as you can be, but don’t let who anyone else is keep you from being your best self.
To this day I wish I had been able to help BK and his family, and all the other broken people from my past. I tried again later down the road, but they couldn’t accept who I’d become. It’s sad, but it’s something we have to face as a possibility. I am glad that I eventually learned that I was responsible for myself, not anyone else, and I could be better even if no one else ever changed or supported me.
It was a really long time before I had anyone helping me out, but I made a lot of positive changes anyway. And now that I’m surrounded by a different kind of broken people and living in a broken world, I’m still making changes and growing. I’m stronger now and I know that I’m responsible for my own growth and my own character, and other people’s problems can’t take anything from me unless I let them. I can grow in the face of anything, and that’s what we all need to do.