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Growth: Why being unkind, selfish and having my heart broken was the best thing for me

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

The most important things I’ve learned from being an asshole.

Written 26 August 2018 | Siem Reap, Cambodia

I realize one of the reasons I have been doing things differently is that I started to define the rules of engagement differently since I left being employed full time, heartbroken without any concrete plans. I followed what my heart told me, I found the courage to share things I believed in with myself and others, and I stood my ground as I was judged, by my peers, by strangers, by friends.

Looking back, I could have been more subtle, kinder, but when you’re dealing with your own demons to conform and not disappoint others who don’t see what you do, the only thing I could do was react in self-preservation and arrogance. I was much more opinionated back then, and I still am in a lot of ways (but I try my best to tamper it with listening more and telling myself “Hey James, you could be wrong so shut the fuck up and listen” as much as I can, and say sorry without reservation when I am wrong).

This path I take is both joyous and understandably melancholic sometimes, because I experience joy that I can’t share, and it can get just a tad lonely. I see things I’m no longer a part of willingly, and I’m doing things that others can’t see too, except for a select few, at home and spread out across.

I know the only thing I can do, to keep others at ease, is to keep my thoughts and experiences to myself. As a consequence I find myself keeping to myself more and more, knowing that I am not alone because I am loved in a lot of ways, and yet time alone has become necessary therapy for me. To think, to write, to feel, to absorb, to see. Usually over a cigarette, a cup of coffee or a beer.

The times I was an asshole never leaves me, when my pride and ego took center stage, and it guides me. It’s a reference point for myself to see how much better I can be as a person.

Being decent can often be seen as letting others step on you. But if that’s the case, it just means we’re surrounding ourselves not with others who are decent, but those who need to step on you to make themselves feel better. We’re surrounding ourselves with the toxic, and people with big holes in their hearts - walking, breathing shells full of hidden hurt, anger and pain that they cannot overcome.

I don’t want to be in a place where being a decent human being is seen as a weakness or betrayal, and I don’t want to be made to feel dumb for being kind.

I may not know exactly what I want still, but I know without a doubt what I don’t. It’s a simple process of elimination, and it’s becoming much easier to eliminate and to be eliminated. This scares and excites me at the same time, that I’m seeing things much clearer than before, and that I’m willing to walk away without fear or regret.

I guess it means I’m growing up still. I hope I never stop doing so. I hope we never do.

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