empathy

Why Being Human Means Wanting More From Yourself, Your Life and Your Capacity To Love

Artwork by  Andreas Franke

Artwork by Andreas Franke

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a movie actor and instantly become discouraged because you studied your features in the mirror? Obviously, not star material; but, that didn’t stop you from admiring people who achieved your dream. You’d slump on your couch and eat popcorn while you marvel at their performances. You can’t do anything better but picture yourself in their shoes.

“What was the whole point of the previous paragraph?,” you ask. To point out that people tend to want something they don’t have. Psychologically speaking, it’s actually a good thing. It drives people to strive harder to improve their lives. Wanting something in particular is never a selfish thing. It’s an automatic thought of your brain you can’t control and you mustn’t declare guilt on yourself  for something out of your hands. When you like something, only seldom do you find yourself not wanting it. So, stop worrying too much, it’s completely normal.

When I was young, a group of acrobats from China performed their acts at my school.  They did death defying stunts which can make even the most reserved people gasp. The crowd would be quiet at first; but, when the performers would taunt the audience as if they’re about to make a mistake and injure themselves in the process, the crowd would scream! Back then, I told my mother I wanted to be like them. She gave me a lesson about personal safety afterwards. Til this day, I still dream about being suspended several feet from the ground while riding very tall bicycles.

I’m sure everyone has their own story to tell. It’s very typical to say the least. We were born to strive for perfection. It’s already imprinted in our blood after eras of evolution. Unlike our ape ancestors, whose lone purpose is survival, we have already developed our cognitive abilities far greater in comparison than theirs. Along came with that knowledge is a curse: the curse of man’s infinite curiosity.

On a shallow perspective, curiosity and the satisfaction answers bring sound like a gift from the gods. Digging deeper, however, you find out that there is more than meets the eye. It is actually a never ending cycle of curiosity and answers. Once our curious mind obtains the information it seeks, it processes information further with more questions! It goes on and on and on. The world is run by this cycle. Without it, humans would cease to function since their driving force will be reduced to nothing.

Luckily, the human mind passively fills in information with the illusion that we already know something we don’t. That sounds crazy but hear me out. For example, we all know how to close clothes with zippers. But, do we actually know the underlying mechanism behind it? How those jagged teeth-like hooks easily clip and unclip with one another with ease? I bet you don’t know. See what I mean?

Going back, this innate curiosity of humans is responsible for the feeling of wanting something you don’t have. Since we don’t have any idea how it feels like to have “that” something you really want, we end up daydreaming about possibilities. We are often contented with the thought of imagination to the point where phantasm is all we get. Some people are brave enough to fight to get what they want but in reality, most people don’t. They are too scared to step out of their comfort zone when these thoughts first come.

If you are one those people, let me give you a high five! We’re the same! And almost everybody on earth is! These yearnings don’t actually have impacting effect in our lives. It sure as hell is annoying though. When you try to move on from them, it will eventually find its way to creep into your mind and bug you again.

You should’ve chosen engineering! Medicine is not for you!

Make your move, slowpoke! They just broke up.

Buying the blue colored curtains would have been better than the cream colored ones.

Should I quit my job and just start a business?

Whatever they are, everybody has their own type of haunting. One in which they can’t escape from. It will bother every inch of your soul to make you give in. Some people are extra thick-headed to resist these thoughts. Some require a longer time before giving in. Some are too carefree and impulsive they’d jump right away. Everybody has their own burden to carry so don’t be hateful on fate when you think other people are living an easy life.

Always remember, whatever decision you make, choose the one that makes you happy. Because in the end, making sacrifices for other people’s happiness will only give you momentary joy. However, there are times where this isn’t applicable. You need to be smart enough to compare the positive effects of various choices to the possible drawbacks. You need to use both your mind and heart. Don’t let your emotions cloud your train of thought. Breathe in and out. Try to relax first to welcome your more rational self.

There is no “right” decision. We fear society’s judgment upon us if we make the “wrong” decision. Fear is one of the leeches which limit our society. It stops us from trying to pursue the things we love and forces us to settle with our everyday routine. It is responsible for crippling the dreams of aspirants. The very reason we don’t move forward is fear. What defines the prescriptive norms of society or what is right is simply based on the concept of not degrading other people. If you’re not hurting anybody, then go for it. Otherwise, the reason you are not moving forward is because you limit yourself.

You’re fat and you want to be a model.

You don’t have a talent in singing but you love singing.

You’re a boy and you like another boy.

You want to work overseas but your family won’t let you.

You want to own a dog but your wife doesn’t want to.

All of these statements exist in real life and many more are just waiting to be trashed and cast aside. People are confused, more likely cautious, they end up not doing anything about it. Society will always judge, even the people closest to your heart. No matter what they say, someday, you will realize in your deathbed all the things you never did because you are too conscious with what people have to say.

In the end, there are a lot of reasons to never try. There are a million excuses available. Yes, being passive is the safest choice. But, who are we to blame for the lost opportunities? Only ourselves. So man up and take your flight!

Anonymously submitted to ArtParasites