People often think being idealistic is impractical, that it’s either one of the two; idealism or realism. Very few things are that black and white, if any. Why can’t we be idealistic and realistic? Dream big, keep our hopes high and work towards making them a material reality?
Often the biggest hard core ‘realists’ were once in fact idealists. They did hope. They did dream. But when they were laughed at and mocked for their ideas they gave up. They didn’t try, they didn’t work. They accepted people’s words as the truth and joined their ranks; battering and tearing down those who still had the audacity to hope and dream. These new recruits can be an idealist’s biggest obstacle. These people never got the chance to realize their own dreams and seeing yours makes them feel like an even bigger failure. They see you, with ideas for a brighter future and envy your carefreeness. They see their past selves in you and wish they could still have hope in the word too. They point out flaws and setbacks, laugh at your naivety and try to make you be realistic so that they can validate themselves. If you fall off the bandwagon it affirms their belief that yes, there is no hope and they were right to give up.
Hopes and dreams are one thing. Basic human decency is another. We are the product of our experiences. You don’t get a say in the hand destiny deals you, but you do get a say in how you react to it. Our choices are always our own, as are the consequences. Some people who get hurt repeatedly become frustrated. They see the world going about as though nothing had happened, no one caring about their pain and wonder if maybe they’re too emotional. They vow to not let anything get to them and grow cold and insensitive to the pain of other people too.
People who once trusted other people too easily and were betrayed begin abusing other people’s trust reasoning that that is simply how the world works. People who try to live honestly see their corrupt coworkers earning more, getting promoted and getting away with it and wonder why they’re even trying to be honest. Their colleagues come to the office late, waste time and no one says anything to them. They live comfortable lives while you’re putting yourself through hell and for what? No one’s watching, no one says anything, everyone does it. With this reasoning the honest forego their ideals and resign themselves to the status quo.
Now, change frames. Before, it was you who was getting mocked for your ideas, now you’re doing it to the next person. If the person gives up it was because of you. You were the representative of the world to that person. When someone is hurt and you see them going through the same thing you went through once, you have a choice, you can be cold and insensitive, like people were to you, or you can empathize and make sure the person knows they’re not alone. Again, you represent the world.
You betray someone’s trust; you teach them that the world doesn’t hold trust sacred, just like someone once did to you and someone may have done to them. Each person in the chain, changing the world forever through their actions. Same goes for corruption. Each person in that office thought they were making a decision for themselves, that it was normal. The fact is, they normalized it by accepting it; paving the way for all those to come.
There was a nice analogy of the world in a book I read. It went something like: ‘The world is like a cauldron and your actions, thoughts and ideas are the ingredients you get to add.’ –Forty Rules of Love, Elif Shafak.
Your actions and choices are your contributions to the lives of all the people you ever meet, even for a second. People make up the world. The world is made up of people. You are people to people just as they are people to you. Know this. A friendly wave, a smile, genuine concern, every minute small thing you do is how the world looks through someone else’s eyes. Know your power.
Don’t lose complete faith in the world, it’s the equivalent of losing faith in yourself. Use your struggles as fuel for hope; if you can stay a dreamer, emotional, trusting and honest, so can other people.
Have faith in yourself.
You are the world.