Thursday, July 03, 2008

Proof

Yesterday was my 26th birthday. People have been thinking I'm older than I am for years. In that sense, I'm looking forward to 30, because I'll finally be the age people think I am.

Over the last year or so, I've found myself significantly disappointed in the behavior of people that age and older. I know quite well that age is no indicator of acceptability of behavior. However, as children we are taught to "act our age," and it would be nice if that was something for which people still strove.

This leads, albeit loosely, into a moral quandary to which I have been witness. I won't go into details, but it involves a person who has to make the unenviable choice between doing "what is right," and martyring themselves, or acting in the sense of self-preservation, and being branded cold-hearted.

An important lesson I've learned this year is that the only person whose happiness you are responsible for is your own.

It can be an honor and a joy to make someone's happiness and well being your concern. I do it for my friends and family every day; it brings me joy.

On the other hand, there have been people excised from my life whose happiness maintenance stopped being a joy, and became a burden instead. I supported them and wished for their happiness, knowing my support was being taken advantage of, and their happiness was in conflict with my own.

Sometimes it's as vicious as that, sometimes not. As with all things, context makes or breaks everything. That said, it's rarely worth it to mortgage one's happiness.

I'm not sure how to advise my friend, as the level of duty, history, and severity of that situation dictates far more than my experiences can provide. I find this sort of quandary fascinating, as I believe we are only beholden to ourselves, but I also understand the guilt that can come with wanting to care for others.

2 comments:

Elayne said...

Happy belated, Jill! (Sorry, I'm way behind in blog-reading thanks to finally being employed...)

Bunche said...

For those who don't know Jill personally, she is wise beyond her years, and the sentiments expressed in this post could not be more dead on. It took me many years to reach the realization she has, and even girded with that knowledge I still sometimes put the happiness of of others before my own, only to get kicked in the ass more often than not. Feh..