Sunday, November 07, 2004

Escaping Your Past

I really wish that I could say that throughout my whole life, I have no regrets. I can't. I've made mistakes in the past, and sometimes, my reputation precedes me. Some people treat me like I'm the devil himself (and sometimes, they are justified), while others treat me the same way even if I don't know them personally. That's why integrity is important. Integrity gives other people a guage of how much (or how little) to trust you. And what kind of relationships will we have if other people can't trust us? Or perhaps more importantly, what kind of lives can we live if don't trust yourselves?

Perhaps the most important thing I learned about developing a bad reputation is to get over it. I can't change my past so there's really no use moping about it. Move on. Change the present (and the future). Who I am today is something I have control over. That I can modify. If there's anything I could learn from the past, I'll incorporate it into my life. That's the beauty of living, after all. We're all capable of change. Might as well use that for the good. Sure, there'll be some pepole who'll think badly about me. I can't change that. The only thing I can do is to disprove them by living a better life, and be an example for the other people who haven't known me yet (or those willing to give me another chance). It might sound unfair or brutal, but hey, that's life.

And of course, I don't want to be a hypocrite. I don't judge others by their pasts. I want other people to treat me by my actions in the present. I'll extend it to them first. I'll also recognize that people can and do change, sometimes for the better. I'm an example of that. I shouldn't give in to my fears. I should think better of other people. And similarly, I'll judge you by who you are now. Sure, you may have done this and that in the past, but if your present is lousy, well, that's something you're responsible for. I'll give you another chance perhaps in the future, but if in the here and now, you're acting like an ass, well, there's really no point for me to give you the respect you think you deserve. When it comes to writing, we have a saying: "You're only as good as your last work." Which means we have to continually prove ourselves. It doesn't matter if I wrote a masterpiece several years ago if what I write now is crap. The same philosophy extends to people. You might have been a great person before but hey, people change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Good for you if it's the former. If it's the latter, well, it's time to change.

I'm talking about change change change but there must be a basis for our change. Mine was my code of ethics and beliefs. I discovered that my previous philosophy involved only me. There was no one else but me, me, me. Everybody else was secondary to my needs. People were merely tools. I'm glad I had a paradigm shift. People aren't tools, they're just like me, with needs and desires. People can be hurt. People need warmth and compassion. They can't be a random statistic. I don't want to be treated like a random statistic. So my current code of ethics involves what's not just good for me but what's good for others. And that involves being consistent with it. Sure, I might make a mistake. Or because of my judgement, I'll cause injury to other people (or even lives). Which is why it's important for me to live according to what I believe in, and to make sure that what I believe in is right. Other people can't make that decision for me. Only I can. I must decide what is "right", and I'm sure other people will disagree with my opinions. But you know what, I have to live with my conscience just as they have to live with theirs. We're accountable for our actions. Which is why I can only do what I believe is right, according to my set of beliefs.

And since I'm a victim of having a bad reputation, when I make decisions regarding other people, I'll make sure it's my decision. Sure, other people can warn us about certain people. And sometimes, they are right. Our friends only have our best interests, after all. But we must also remember that our friends are human too, and sometimes, they are capable of making mistakes (or they don't view the world in the way that other people do or in the way that we do). If I'm going to be angry or hateful towards someone, I'll be acting that way because I have experience to back it up. I mean when other people usually ask me why the other person dislikes me, I'll give them my side of the story (and everyone has their own side of the story), and then tell them to ask the other person (or their friends) their side of the story. I don't want other people to make decisions or jump to conclusions based on my facts alone. You're smarter than that. You're capable of making your own decisions. And if the other person really deserves their reputation, you'll figure that our for yourself. You don't need me to watch over you all the way and constantly warn you about the other person. And for all I know, that person might have changed for the better. I'll give other people, especially strangers, a chance. If they're as bad as other people say they are, then they'll reveal it.

Perhaps what I think other people should practice more is also asking what you did wrong. Ask that from yourself and from the other people you injure (whether intentionally or not). Sometimes, it's just a misunderstanding. I've encountered lots of misunderstandings in my life. If it's that, I usually try to repair it. Sometimes, the misunderstanding is cleared up. Sometimes, it's not. I've had personal experience when the person refused to accept my apology (even if I wasn't necessarily the one who started it). Or other times, they refuse to give comment on what I did wrong (and I usually try to imagine what I could have possibly done to offend that person). Perhaps it's the latter that hurts me the most. Because I'll never know what my mistake was, or how my actions were perceived. I mean I know some people who are still mad at me for God-knows what reason (and I certainly wasn't trying to take advantage of them). And these people spread their anger to their other friends. At that point, all I can say is that I've tried my best to make amends and change myself for the better.

There's really no way for us to escape our past. It's part of us. We're only human, after all. But we can learn from it and change for the better. All we can hope is that other people see that change in us and give us a chance. But of course, we must also give other people a chance as well. That in itself reflects our maturity.


Post a Comment

<< Home