Throughout my whole life, I have struggled with the idea of being accepted by others, of being free from judgment, of making sure I always make others happy, of being good enough. The only problem with this equation is it leaves no room for error. It does not take human nature into consideration.
What happens when I do the “right” thing, but it still upsets people? Have I really done the “right” thing? What happens if people I care about lie to me? Does it mean I never really earned their respect? What happens if I say something intelligent, but cannot defend it? Am I really saying something unintelligent? More importantly, what will others think if I respond to these situations in the wrong ways?
Anyone could try to answer all those questions, but it would not stop anxiety, bitterness, and ache from wedging into the mind. It would not solve any problems. Perhaps the real question to ask ourselves here is if it matters what people will think of us.
While it is true that in a perfect world everyone could accept one another and live free of judgment, true agape* between humans is only attainable in a perfect world. So, though the Bible, our parents, our teachers, our peers, and society teach us that it is wrong to judge one another, and that we should love and accept one another, it is human nature to err, and nothing changes human nature.
The point here, then, must be to not take the things other people say and do personally. In life, people are going to dislike you, disrespect you, and belittle you, all in attempt to feel better about themselves. We are only human, and therefore flawed, so of course this will happen. All we can do is let it go and try our best to respond with love, respect, forgiveness, and poise. It will not be a simple feat, but the higher road carries a lighter load of emotional baggage than does the road of vengeance and contempt.
* The word agape comes from the Greek noun for love, signifying unconditional or selfless love. It is used in the Bible to describe the love Jesus has for us; it is also one of the six styles of love in human communication.