Slowly Learning (Altruism)

Days like today are too rare.

I feel that I am learning. Many pitfalls along the way, two steps forward, three steps back at times. I am learning that the opinions of others do not matter nearly as much as I think they do. That if I try hard for the approval of others, the chances are still abominably high that they won’t approve. You can’t please people who don’t want to be pleased.

I need to remember I can do whatever I want, there will just be consequences. There are consequences to all of our actions, positive or negative. And you can flip a coin to determine whether an action results in positive or negative consequences, to yourself or others.

Of course, I don’t imply that no one shouldn’t do positive things because there won’t be a sure positive consequence. Despite all my rants, my brief and raging bitter hostilities, I still hold the door for people and am scrupulously considerate of others. No intention to come off as self-congratulatory on that, I simply feel deep down, to the core, that the Golden Rule is the right way. My problem is assuming good things should always result in clear, tangible positive consequences, i.e. rewards. I must remember sometimes there are subtle rewards for a good action that don’t make themselves clear or don’t show up for days, months, years. Perhaps someone speaking up for you that you didn’t expect. Unexpected returns. Sometimes, there’s no noticeable return ever. But that’s how it is.

Always hope for some sort of positive return on your positive actions, but don’t expect it. Don’t get your heart set on some eventual reward. Some harp on and on about altruism, how you should never expect a return on something good you did, but those people need to understand that not many people can do that. Altruism is an ideal, such as “normality.” It’s something to aspire to, not a default. There is no such thing as true altruism; we are animals, not gods. Even the people who pat themselves on the back about being purely altruistic feel a rush of warmth and happiness at helping others that they crave to feel. Everyone expects a reward, to some degree. And warm fuzzies ARE a reward.

Today, I feel like I can lift my head high. Blatantly and uncompromisingly be myself, with no apologies. Do what I want. Go where I want. Go to a rock climbing gym, ignore the stares and giggles of the fit people watching a dumpy fat woman climb a wall. Take martial arts classes if I want. See a movie by myself. Eat by myself.

I handled the last item today well. I went to the middle Eastern buffet across the street from work today. I walked in, grabbed a container since the staff was busy, loaded up at the buffet, and went to the counter. There was a man in line ahead of me. The lady at the counter couldn’t seem to comprehend that I was 1, not eating with the guy ahead of me, 2, not eating with anyone else, 3, not eating in, 4, had the container to go already filled, and 5, taking it to-go. She said “Alone?” in that tone of voice, just flabbergasted. It was not communication problems, she wore a hijab but was a native English speaker and (although I could be wrong) noticeably caucasian. I simply corrected her again and again until she understood I had a single buffet to go. I just dealt with it. I didn’t feel annoyed or angered.

That’s how it should be. Let it roll off me, like water off a duck’s back.

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