I've spent a lot time this week listening to artists like Alannis Morrisette. She was such a staple for the younger, angrier me but I was listening to an interview where someone asked her if she was still angry after all these years. She said yes and I felt her answer to be refreshing in a way. The difference, she said, was that she had a much healthier way of channeling that anger. I thought how beautifully honest. I thought about my early twenties, my mid twenties, hell my entire existence and I think about now. I asked myself the same question. Am I still angry? And the answer is yes. I am absolutely still angry but the way that I would handle it then is way different than I handle it now. I look at my kid, still at the beginning of her life. I feel her anger, understand it completely, and just hope that she figures a way to channel it, too. We do though. We all do. Alannis wrote one very angry song and it labeled her this angry woman but she was simply expressing what we all feel at that particular time. Anger can be poison but it can also be this lovely motivation. Like all powers, it comes with great responsibility.
We learn that as we grow and become who we are. There are days I would like to throw tables at people, curse their names, and say hateful things to make them feel like they make me feel. Younger me? Yeah, I would have done that in a heartbeat but I am so grateful that older me knows better. We all have this rage inside. The world is in such a bad place right now and people lack so much empathy for each other. We're all somehow stunted people who think of only themselves because, well, it's easier to be that way. And all of it stems from the things we do to each other. Someone somewhere at some point in our lives hurt us and now the entire human race has to pay for it. So, we put up these walls and we throw our grenades and we toss judgement around like confetti in a parade because that anger that we are putting out doesn't hurt us, right? It protects us... but it doesn't and we know it. We're all just too broken to admit it. So, we sing these songs of rage when we are young and it becomes an anthem of sorts, pure silly angst that soon we realize has no place in our lives. Yes, the people who hurt us ought to know but then we have to learn to let it go.
My anxiety and depression are a daily thing I battle. Many people over my life hurt me and I carry the effects of them with me still. It's OK because at this point they no longer control me. Still, I hear the "you aren't good enough's" and I feel the hands on my wrists and there is this deep part of me that still feels this unbelievable anger. I once thought this anger was all that I was. I was completely engulfed by pure rage and it was the entire worlds fault. I couldn't let them know enough. Sometimes I get so angry, so unbelievably angry. It's the boil in the bit of my stomach and my head feels fuzzy and I have a hard time breathing. The thing is this rage that wants to take over no longer has that power over me. I understand that these triggers are part of a big insecurity that have nothing to do with what is happening in that moment. That anger is still my soul trying to heal, trying to make sense of the things that hurt so deeply, and I have to allow myself to heal but that doesn't mean I have to let it ruin the beautiful things in my life right now.
Over the last few years, I've looked back at my life and I've understood so much more than I have before. I still don't know shit but it's OK. Am I still angry? Sure but I would much rather focus that energy, that power on making my life better. We can all look back at our younger years and wish we were where we thought we would be but it's dumb. We aren't who we were then, angry or not angry. Life happened the way it did. We can be angry about it, sure, but we also have the ability to adjust, to pivot, to choose to do the work. I will always love listening to Alannis but what people didn't hear was even in her angry song was this lovely vulnerability in her words. If we took to the time to stop being so angry, we would see that we're all just trying to survive. Be angry. There's nothing wrong with feeling these very real feelings. Just remember that behind that anger, it's just a hurt trying to heal. Use that energy to better yourself, not hurt the people around you. Who we are changes and what we thought doesn't always come to fruition but who we become is up to us.
I was standing in a coffee shop the other day. It's not my coffee shop of choice but I was out of creamer and the one I prefer is not on my way to work. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the things we love, right? I was standing there, patiently waiting for my coffee while the twelve people behind the counter bustled around. There was an older gentleman standing in front of the barista. I usually pay no attention to the world around me. One of the reasons I don't wear my glasses when I should but I prefer to live in a blur. I couldn't help but to listen to this older man talk to this very young barista. I instantly became very protective of this girl. Maybe it's because I'm a mother and anyone who is younger than me I instinctively put my daughter's face on but this man woke up my maternal instincts. He stood there in front of her, berating her on how to make his coffee properly and then threatening her that he was going to send it back if she did not make it to his standards. My face was contorting. My heart started to beat quickly. And I said louder than I should have, "You pretentious f*ck*". I burned holes in the back of this man's head because I realized he was everything about humanity that I could no longer tolerate. Why do we have to be such dicks to each other? Why do we have to be so entitled and treat others so gross? This gentleman is why I do not like to leave my house.
I realize that I am about halfway through my life. My body does not work the way it once did. My mind tends to wander more than it should. And, quite honestly, napping on the couch sounds like the best time ever. I'm at this strange point in my life where I am shaking my head at these kids being crazy people and looking at these older grumps with my eyes rolling out of my head. I get to remember what it was like to be a dumb 20 year old and tell myself that I will never become that jerk of an old man when I'm super old. In my rage, I stared at that man and I wondered how many people enabled this person to believe that behavior is acceptable? I wanted so badly to make a scene, to tell this man to sit down... but I also understood that it was wasted energy. His behavior wasn't going to change because a stranger told him to cut it out. So, I took note and I left thinking that the entire human race needed a reboot. This man was just one of many.
Maybe it's because I have worked in customer service so long, I am exceptionally sensitive to how people treat other people especially someone behind a counter. Maybe I have experienced so many ugly people in my life that i have finally reached my tolerance level. Any sight of mistreatment makes me go crazy. I have no interest in interacting with the world most days but I have a huge amount of compassion for the world around me. I know it doesn't make any sense but here's the thing. I tend to stay away from people not because I believe they are going to hurt me. They just disappoint so often and I hate being disappointed more than I hate being hurt. So, watching this man, this older man who should know better, treat another person with such belittlement was a disappointment. He should know better. He should know better than to be so unkind to a kid basically whose probably just working this job part time while she goes to school. He should know better and that's what drove me crazy. Part of the reason I dislike customer service so much is because the people you are trying to help tend to treat you like you are nothing, an annoyance to their day, a fly in their coffee. I guess I'm too old to be astonished by this behavior but I feel like I still expect more out of humans. While I have changed and grown and become into my own, my standards for the world have not changed. They are still too high and I guess that's my fault.
I do not wish that gentleman any malice. I hope that one day he wakes up and realizes that he doesn't have to behave that way to find his happiness. And that's the thing. People who behave this way, who yell at baristas or at cashiers or servers, are just angry people. It's just that baristas, cashiers, servers are easy targets. You don't know them. You don't care about them. They mean nothing in the grand scheme of your life... except they mean something to someone and we should remember no matter how old we are that everyone means something. I watched that barista's face and I thought she is somebody's kid, somebody's something. No matter how she makes our coffee, whether perfect or awful, she deserves the same amount of respect you do. And for the love of green apples, dude, if you hate the way this place makes your coffee, stay home!
One day, I will legit be an old lady with a cane. I will sit on my porch and yell at those damn kids to get off my lawn and I will laugh every time I do it, hoping the kids will come back so I can do it all over again. But you know what I'm not going to do? Start treating people like they owe me something. The only thing I managed to do was to not die. I'm not even going to apologize for how morbid that sounds because that's the reality of it. I grew old and that's a beautiful thing and I will be lucky to have lived so much life but that does not give me the right to lose my humanity. We will all grow old one day and instead of becoming nasty to the people around us, let's be an example and be kind. It's not that hard.