The Truth Behind Who They Really Are

Lately, so many people disappoint me.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I know during these trying times it’s more popular to tout positivity. I shouldn’t nitpick but — you knew there was a but — I have been more disappointed with people lately than I can recall ever having been before.

When I say they disappoint me, what I really mean is they’ve let me down. Or at least they’ve let down my expectations of them and that’s on me.

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

I thought I knew these people. I thought they were kind, rational humans. Didn’t they used to be?

If it weren’t for Trump or this pandemic, two highly unusual phenomenons happening at once, shaking up all the norms, I may never have seen their true colours.

It’s as if kindness, respect, empathy and tolerance were sifted from them to sink, hidden or maybe lost forever, beneath the murky sediment of their character. What remains are larger nuggets of ugliness that they don’t even try to mask anymore.

  • A family member casually dropping the n-word. Twice.
  • A friend spreading pandemic denying memes on social media, another who has fallen deeply down the QAnon rabbit hole.
  • An ex who voted for Trump despite it all because, he claims, it helps him financially.
  • Another relative who wears MAGA gear and isn’t even American (thankfully).
  • Another friend who doesn’t approve of the Black Lives Matter movement, and one who believes with all her heart that Trump was the best president of all time.
  • Multiple friends I’ve had to block on social media for constantly sending me the latest conspiracy theory madness.

I struggle to understand if they were always like this or recently changed by our strange current events, social media slant or some other hypnotic spell.

What is going on people?

Also, don’t they know me? Don’t they know how offensive I find all of it?

Some of them do now. I’ve told them as much, but others I’m sorry to admit are still oblivious. It seems like an enormous effort to set the record straight. I’m too tired to fight with anyone anymore.

Instead, I feel this gloomy disappointment when I think of them. I don’t want one dark aspect of their character to define them entirely, but I find it difficult to separate the bad from the good. Should I even try?

Despite the fear mongering, shouts of “fake news!” and the explosion of conspiracy theories over the past few years, the most paranoid out there are those who have revealed their own true character more than ever. And it ain’t pretty.

The past 4 years, and 2020 in particular, seem to have cast a beaming truth spotlight over everyone I know. Oh, so that’s who you really are. Hmm.

My husband tells me not to shut people out just because I don’t agree with them, but it’s more than simply disagreeing with someone’s politics. Their statements are proof of their character, and character matters to me.

Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries an executive coach, psychoanalyst, management scholar and author wrote, “In spite of whatever disappointing experiences come our way, our challenge will be to not let bitterness take root. We would do well to keep in mind that although disappointment is inevitable, being discouraged is always a choice.”

The choice is mine. How will I allow the people I once held in high esteem to affect me? I won’t shut them out entirely because people can change. If you know better, you do better, right? I won’t hold them as close, though. I can’t.

I don’t know what to make of the friends and family who disappoint me, so instead I’m shifting my attention away from them and towards those that inspire me.

I’m grateful to have other people in my life who consistently lift my spirits. Those people I’ll hold close. Virtually. When the pandemic is over, I’ll hug them tight in person, more grateful for them than I was before. And that’s a positive.

The contrast between those that disappoint and those who uplift has never been so clear. I may be a little nostalgic for the good old days when I saw everyone I knew through my rose-coloured glasses.

The glasses are off now and there’s no going back.

I read, I write, I learn. I’m forever dedicated to my curiosity. Blog: Twitter: @BonnieJohnson

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