If You Can’t Say Something Nice

I’ve always been so afraid of people not liking me. I’ve always been scared of not fitting in. I was never the one to speak up when something wasn’t right. I was so painfully shy and the whole world was so big and scary and mean.

Last year I lost a job along with a friend of mine because we dared to say something wasn’t right. I still joke and call her ‘whistleblower’ every now and then. That was a good job, but it wasn’t worth the price our supervisor was asking us to pay, our integrity. Since then, I have tried harder than I ever have in my life to do the right thing.

Cliche, I know.

But I want to stick up for the little guy. Because I know that I’m a lot stronger than I ever believed I was. Because I know what it’s like to sit idly by while others judge and degrade and just treat other people badly. I know what it’s like to feel too paralyzed to say anything. And I know what it’s like to feel guilty afterward, knowing that I could have said something, knowing that I could have smoothed things over, knowing that I could have done anything besides just let it happen.

I like to tell myself that’s a good thing, that it’s admirable, because I know I would have looked up to someone able to do that when I couldn’t bring myself to. What can I say? There will always be that shred of doubt deep inside me, that little voice whispering don’t even try, you can’t do anything right anyway, you’re wasting your time. I don’t have to listen, but the whisper’s always there.

So I fight it.

When I see someone struggling, I want to help them, especially when it’s an emotional load that’s just too heavy. Or when it’s an unpopular opinion, but still an opinion that isn’t hurting anyone else.

It doesn’t matter how you candy-coat it, beating someone down is beating someone down. You can dress it up all you like with your ‘buts’ and your ‘sorrys’ and your ‘I don’t mean any harms,’ but if you really didn’t mean any harm, you would have kept your fool mouth shut. If you really wanted to offer sympathy, you wouldn’t dress up ‘you deserve this’ with a pretty little bow of fake commiseration. If you really wanted to show you cared, you wouldn’t try to one-up someone’s suffering.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to feel that someone deserves what they get, or that it’s wrong to think they’re just being a baby because you’ve been through worse. I’m saying it’s a pretty crappy thing to tell someone in their darkest hour that they shouldn’t have done something, or to buck up, you’ve had it worse.

Just keep it to yourself.

Nobody needs their pain belittled by someone outside the situation. Let it go.