How Far Will You Go For Self-Preservation?


When I was young(er), I was quite the moron. 

Like the first time I liked a guy, I would not say it to him. Over a decade later, he got married and I began to question my entire life. I started telling guys that I liked them. (The ones I did like, that is!)

I thought that my new found courage was wonderful at first, but then it backfired in an odd way. My ex Sid said that I forced him to label a relationship he was comfortable not naming. That broke both my heart and my trust together. 

I waited for the apology for a while, or some sort of enlightened correction from his behalf. But then I understood that it wouldn’t happen. It never did. 

Not with Sid, not with Bob, and not even with Jason who cheated on me

But this isn’t a romantic thing, let me be clear. My boss Maria will never agree that I have worked enough. My high school gal pal Amy never once thought that she might have hurt me too (I hurt her, that was clear!) when our friendship ended. It’s a thing that I have learnt the hard way over the years. 

The apologies, the Eureka! moments you hope others will have, the kind of closure and catharsis we all dream of; it’s almost never going to happen. 

So I decided to grow up. It’s still an ongoing process, but I can tell you a few things about it.

Like how far I’ll now go for self-preservation: I will remove myself from engaging in a space if required.

What Changed?

I’m beginning to see that the beckoning of self-preservation has been one of the loudest calls and thickest themes running through my coming of age narrative. 

I now often find myself putting that conclusive period on endless arguments that play out in my mind with the same statement: You gotta’ do what you gotta’ do. 

Now thug life slang aside (which could very well be the second most prominent theme in my narrative of late), what I mean by that is that there will be numerous sides to any argument — I said, she said, but I meant, well she also meant, but did she think about, but did I think about, well how about the fact that.. You get the drift. 

Sometimes these arguments can grow from little hatchlings of an innocent dilemma to ravenous monsters that spit out fire balls of stress and mental fatigue. 

And the worst part is that after a certain point, I begin to have these arguments solely in my mind. Cause c’mon, I don’t want to present a case without having thought through all the possible variations that I can torture myself with. (Fun fact read out loud by aforementioned ravenous mind monster who somehow happens to be of a Spanish descent: There will always be more, señorita!) 

When I am certain that my mind cannot handle another fire ball of “think about the other side”, I call it a day with the train of thought. 

Setting Yourself Free

Everyone has their side to this notorious thing that is a story, and they have the right to hold on to their side as their ultimate truth. While I can oftentimes see and understand someone else’s side, I will exert my right and hold on to my truth. Because no one else will hold on to my truth. And allowing it to slide away is allowing my truth to vanish in the wake of someone else’s. 

If you think that my adult-ish life is a series of tumultuous relations, you are wrong. And by wrong I mean 100% right. Because being an adult, turns out, is living life constantly disappointing a whole bunch of people by choosing yourself. 

The adult part of it is learning to be alright with that. And that sense of relief and acceptance comes when you understand that you disappoint people, only because they are holding on ever so tightly to their own truth. And awaiting for you to change the team you play on.

Sorry sonny, ain’t gonna happen. 

Working Without The Hate

But we can’t live in a world where people don’t agree to meet each other half-way. That would be a World War on a dangerous microcosmic tangent! And we propagate peace, not war. We propagate understanding, and empathy, and kindness. So what now?

I accept that we are all humans wearing our armour of self-preservation. And seeing through someone’s armour doesn’t give me the right to shout it out (chances are they often see through mine too). It doesn’t make me any better than someone else. And most importantly, it isn’t going to help my situation and all I’ll get is the momentary satisfaction that I’ve one-upped someone. 

But this isn’t a game. This isn’t about winning the argument. It isn’t about proving myself. 

It’s about finding a space where I’m happy, and about holding on to my sanity. I understand that I get into these situations because of how different my truth can be from someone else’s. I let it be. 

I ask myself what would make me happy. I hold on to that. I have realised that there is more power in that simple unravelling than anything else. 

It’s just that easy. I am never going to be happy with sacrificing my own truth. At the same time, I am also never going to entirely change someone’s mind about their truth. 

I’m preserving my truth because that will always be where my happiness lies. And I will let you preserve yours because I am selfish and your unhappiness would also mean my unhappiness. I’ve begun to see that the way to meet each other half-way, as ironic as it may be, is to pause exactly where you are and to let it be. 


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