The next few weeks will be testing. The imminent emergence of yesteryear followed by a chance to finally confront the truth on a hard-fought-for podium. 362 days I have waited, and for a minute, I had lost hope that I would ever be given the chance to unbury myself. But the build-up has proved to be potentially destructive in nature, more inwardly than out. Maybe it was naive of me to believe that the sailing would be anything but treacherous. In all honesty, I have grown tired of comfort. A comfortable, convenient life is not a real life – I can look forward to the most comfortable life in the grave. I understand peoples’ need for a hunt now and then, but nameless shots from those who are quick to dispose of their smoking gun is hardly the ravening wolves I expected. I didn’t predict to see bitterness and resentment taking the field.
It’s a place that, admittedly, I am not entirely familiar with. I have always been instilled with a sincerely held belief that I have intrinsic value that is independent of anyone else. Good moments and bad years will come inevitably, but they will never dampen my inner spirit, nor suppress the guile I’ve always had to rise from depths. It’s an arrogance steeped in my compulsion to self-develop, which, when coupled with my inherited optimism, is a mental security of sorts. It was an easy stance to maintain until competitiveness became a dominant theme in much that I took part in, a theme which can’t stray too far from jealousy. It’s clear to see that jealousy is just admiration that has been corrupted by insecurity. Many of us celebrate our friends’ successes and applaud those who achieve greatness, but recoil and curse as soon as a single link is drawn back to our own deficiencies. Such a mental security can quickly take shape into a mental prison.
The motives that different people adopt for toppling others has intrigued me. While I don’t personally subscribe to such behaviour, I can see why cutthroat, unconscientious types rip their competition down to elevate themselves up to a higher place. Evaluating your rank in a hierarchy often provides an indicator into where you lie on the social standings, and progress will inevitably lead some to surmount those occupying higher positions. There are a number of motives, such as the pursuit of justice, victory or malevolence. But for some people to drag others through the mud and stand to gain nothing intangible from it is bizarre to me.
Looking at a microcosm as a vantage point, I always try to place myself in the shoes of a person who frequently targets negative comments towards strangers on social media. Most of us are guilty of that little buzz we experience when our posts gets a like or two, but those who feel that rush of dopamine whenever they are scathing or malicious towards another is something newer. This is not to deny the reality that many people do feel frustrated, disenfranchised or simply outraged at injustice, and rightly so, but I am curious as to what people take away from insulting and degrading people who they don’t know and who have not really touched their lives. Satisfaction? A sense of control? It’s becoming an ever increasing trend with the surge of tribalism amongst these platforms, and the anxiety that many feel about having their true selves invalidated and persecuted online may have gotten worse because of this. We can’t detach our lives from the internet, but we can try to suppress our instincts of tearing down what we don’t know, understand or agree with.
Still, what I’ve learnt about this latter group of individuals (and I say ‘individuals’ because it’s not the position of a majority by any means) is that bitterness and resentment only hurts one person, and it’s not the intended target. I have become humble enough to take flak, to welcome criticism for my actions, but only if the critics who are pointing the interrogation lights on me are prepared to proudly take ownership of their qualms and put their names to their words. After all, the face of a coward is the back of their head.
What if you’re right, and they’re wrong?