The draft of this post has been saved a few days ago already, but I didn’t finish it, something was missing. Today, one sentence said by a person very important to me changed it all, so I decided to re-write it and add some paragraphs, since the problem I’ve been thinking about seems to reach way deeper. So it’s time to dig a little deeper (yes, it is a song, I have a problem, okay!) and write a big essay on aurea mediocritas of all kinds.
This post will be about how your greatest advantages become the total opposite if you overdo them. This post will be about how you choose virtue above evil, and get hurt by the virtue itself. This post will be about how a thing becomes your lifestyle before you even notice it to, and then it takes over your personality. This post will be about building your character so highly, it falls down. This post will be about falling into a schema and letting one characteristic define you. This post will be about forgetting you live for yourself. This post will be about me. Once, about me. Because now, I’m not scared of admitting, that sometimes, things are about me and up to me.
Kill them with kindness
A few years ago, as a middle school student, I just couldn’t sell myself to the people. I attended school, tried to get along with the colleagues there, but I just couldn’t. Somehow I was absolutely unable to fit in, and instead of building healthy relations, as people this age should start to build at this point of life, I was building a deep relationship with my inner self. It’s not like I felt misunderstood, I felt lonely. All the things I considered really cool and worthy of attention, people my age, didn’t really share commitment and passion to. When I opened my mouth, I soon had to close them and just let people laugh. I was trying really hard, but not succeeding. Although, for a long time I tried to find the reasons in myself, blamed myself, there must have come the day, that I realized: hey, they’re just mean to you. You’re you, and they are mean.
I started wondering why, even if they don’t like me for who I am, do they have to talk about it and laugh at it? All I wanted to have is peace, I wanted them to let me be me. I wanted kindness. And since I couldn’t find it in the community I’ve spent most of my time in back then, I decided to find it in myself. Kill them with kindness. That was the day I decided to be nice, whatever happens. They laugh at me, I’ll endure it. They make a mean comment, I’ll look away. They ask for help, I’ll help them. At that time it seemed like a good solution. I’m not saying it wasn’t though, because yes, it did help me become who I am at the moment, and I think of myself as a good person.
Person-for-others vs. actual person
An actual person is a kind person, who’s willing to help others, but lives her own life. She makes her own decisions, she develops her character, she works, she gains knowledge. She makes people proud that they know her, and they, people appreciate what she does for them. She likes to say “yes”, but she is okay with saying “no”, if something just doesn’t suit her that well. She know she has the right to be angry or sad with things, and she has people to lean on and support her. Actual person is alive.
A person-for-others is overly kind. She always helps, even when she meets disrespect and ends up unappreciated. She makes decisions, but thinks one hundred times if it won’t harm anyone. She works and gains knowledge to make people proud, and her biggest fear is disappointment. She only says yes, and if something doesn’t suit her, she endures it. She gets angry and sad, but she does her best not to harm people with it. She’s alive, but she’s stuck in an illusion.
The description number one, is who I’m becoming right now. The description number two is who I was on my good way to become, before I realized das not gud. Kindness trapped me. I forgot, that if I’m kind, I also deserve it in return. I forgot, that if I work hard, I deserve appreciation. I forgot I deserve a good life if I’m able to make it for myself.
In my oral exam in Literature, I had to speak about interpersonal relations. After I finished the main part of my presentation, there came the time for questions. The examinator asked me: “What do you think are the most important features for building a good relation?” Among two others, of less importance, I put respect for people as well as self-respect on the pedestal. I said that although it’s a relationship, you can’t forget you’re an important part of it. Without you, it wouldn’t be the same anymore. I gave a few written examples of its importance. How could I forget it in real life?
I had a tendency of forgetting, I’m also a part of things, not only the things are a part of me. I forgot, that in friendship, there are two equally important people, and that just like some people need me, I can need them. I was kind, just like I decided, but I overdid it to the point where I forgot there is me in this world. And I can blame no one except myself for it. My mind trapped me in thinking there are others to think about, and thinking about myself is absolutely wrong. For once, now, I realize my own existence, my own emotions, my character. I realize there’s a Carol in this world. And if she’s not important yet, she will be.
To make a difference, you cannot only think about others, you have to remember yourself to. It’s you who makes a difference. And you be proud of yourself wanting to make it. It’s you wanting to. It’s you thinking it. It’s you dreaming it. It’s you doing it. YOU.
Carol, where your stoicism at?
Some time ago, when I got interested in philosophy, I already knew who I want to be. A stoic. Not getting overexcited, nor depressed. Doing things, but not overdoing them. Appreciating the virtue that is work and loving it. Focussing on now, remembering I have a life to live. Not thinking of the past I cannot influence, nor the future I cannot predict. Staying calm, because calmness is power. I’ve been doing pretty well up to the point I overdid kindness. My biggest advantage, I overdid. I forgot there is an aurea mediocritas I need to find. I built an image of a nice girl Carol and forgot the Carol part. This is how I fell into a schema, became extremist in kindness and selflessness. Extremist is never good, even if the idea behind it seems noble. I cheated myself and my stoic heart.
Maybe not all of you know, I have siblings. Although the number of them is more than one sister, there is one sister I’m going to write about today. In the first paragraph of this article, I said one sentence a very important person said, made me re-write this and made it more complete. I talked about my sister. Let me tell you about her, and then finally – say what she said, that made me think twice.
My sister’s name is Alex. She is 7 years older than me, and has always been my biggest authority. Except being a working girl, a very successful working girl, she is also an aspiring photographer, really good at realizing this aspiration. Except this she’s also a very wise person, always willing to tell you the truth and motivate you – criticize you constructively if necessary, as well. She’s the one to always appreciate you, if you do something. Alex is a fan of doing, and she hates to stand still. Alex is very passionate and she likes to surround herself with passionate people. She loves to be positive. Alex runs a page called Damn! Girl, and she is one as well. As I described her inner greatness already, may I mark, that she is insanely beautiful. She’s that one girl you see on the street, and go like: DAYUUUM. She embodies class. She’s also the number one fan of my writing, which flatters me hella much.
Although she, as you can probably tell from the description above, is aiming for perfection, just like me looking up to her. Even though she balances well in practically everything in her life, there is one thing she can’t catch balance in. Perfectionism. Alex is a perfectionist, and she doesn’t settle for less. Go all the way or don’t go at all. And despite she can appreciate the outcome of any other person’s work, she, somehow has the problem to appreciate her own. When she writes, she thinks a thousand times before writing down a full sentence, because she just needs it to be perfect. Like the character in Albert Camus’ novel, who’s spent the entire time writing his own book, but never finished the first sentence, constantly re-writing it.
A few days ago, Alex was casually photo shooting with her boyfriend, being the model herself this time. The outcome of it was absolutely incredible, trust me on this one. She looked like a professional, she looked gorgeous, out of this world. ‘Can I publish this on Facebook?’ – she asked me. I answered yes, of course, and obviously, the photo has been acknowledged as great by everyone expressing their praise in the comments section.
As Alex took her time to look through all the comments, she wrote me a text message: “I’m reading these comments, and I feel silly. I’ve seriously been hesitant to publish it, because the facial expression seemed wrong, etc. It’s scary how disturbed your perception of yourself might become”. And this sentence is the one that changed everything. I noticed, that just like I overdid kindness to the point where I stopped acknowledging my own needs and existence, Alex overdid perfectionism to the point where she started to think less of her own work. Just like I have to find the aurea mediocritas of kindness and caring for others, Alex has to find the aurea mediocritas in perfectionism. This will be difficult, but we’re on our way. Me, for self-respect and Alex – for understanding who, she really is – an amazing woman who can do incredible things.
This one really comforts me
I’ve read a book recently, ‘The Sect of Egoists” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. It tells a story of a man, who discovered a philosopher, who invented egoism and started to obsessively seek information about him. The philosopher came to a conclusion, that the world he lives in, is a creation of his own mind, and everyone’s here, because he thought so. The philosopher, in the end acknowledged himself as god. The egoism trapped him, and led to his death. Although it’s a sad story, it comforts me, because it tells about a person who also overdid something, but in the direction opposite to mine. I overdid altruism, the philosopher got lost in egoism. It’s also a warning for me, not to become extremist in any way again. It also proves my point, that we shall seek the aurea mediocritas in everything.
In the end…
It’s me who wrote this. There is a person standing behind this essay, an actual person. It’s Carol. Although I don’t have to tell you this, it’s nice to hear myself. Hello, Carol.