Feb 24, 2015

Sometimes I Feel Like a Bad Person

You know that feeling you get?  The obscure guilt, where you feel like what you're doing isn't enough.  You really should be doing more, even if you don't know what "more" would be or caring more, even if it causes you stress and unhappiness.

Sometimes I just feel like I'm a bad person.  Sometimes for no reason.  Sometimes for bad reasons.  But differentiating what is a "good" or "bad" reason is difficult.  We're not rational when it comes to ourselves, and, all too frequently, not very forgiving either.

Here are some of the things that make me feel like a bad person.

1. Not Enjoying Charity Work

I don't feel good about helping people.  Instead I feel worse, because I'm now keenly aware of their situation and how bad it is and how trivial my contribution is.  I feel guilty that I'm not doing more.  And sometimes it's just unpleasant.

Example 1: Volunteering at the Food Bank.  There were other people there, for rehab or for work or something.  They clearly did not want to be there and weren't taking it seriously.  We were supposed to be assembling bags of food for families, and trying to put an even mix of stuff in them so everyone could have some vegetables, some pasta, etc, etc.  They didn't give a shit.  Some of those bags had 10 jars of spaghetti sauce and nothing else.  And now those families don't get to eat because some bastards from a required corporate volunteering project were too lazy to put 2 seconds of thought into what they were doing.

Example 2: Making dinner for the Ronald McDonald house.  This is for the families of sick children in AI Dupont Hospital, so I expected it to be sad.  I expected to see upset people, and tired people, and people who didn't want to talk much.  I didn't expect them to be rude.  So we had no idea where things were and the coordinators weren't much help, because they were also volunteers with minimal knowledge of the building or kitchen.  So it was chaotic to begin with.  Then, some of the people we were supposedly helping came over and started demanding things, or asking questions and getting pissy when we didn't know the answers.  I tried so hard to remember that these are people who are going through a hard time, with a sick or maybe even dying child, but in the end it was hard to feel good about something when the recipients were so hostile.

To sum up: I'd rather give my money than my time.  And I feel guilty both because I don't enjoy helping and because I'm so stingy with my time that I don't want to use it to do something I don't enjoy.

2. Wanting to Shut Out the World

There are so many problems, and it's frustrating and depressing to read about all the things that are wrong with our society and the world in general.  It's easier to just stop reading the news, and bury your head in the sand, but the problems don't go away just because you don't know about them.  Just like the charity work - the more I know, the more upset I feel, but me ignoring that it's there doesn't help, while raised awareness might do something even if I personally don't have a solution or plan of action.  But opening your eyes exposes you to:
  1. The problems themselves.  Depressing news everywhere!
  2. Bickering.  Since everyone has an opinion and everyone is 100% convinced they're right and everyone else is a moron.
  3. Your own anger.  The heightened emotions surrounding controversial topics and many current social issues are contagious.  Soon enough you find yourself with a strong opinion, soap-boxing along with everyone else.

To sum up: I feel sad and angry when I know stuff; I feel guilty when I don't.  Lose/lose.

3. Putting Myself First

I've always made decisions with other people in mind.  What will be best for Ryan, and my family?  What is the logical thing to do instead of the thing that will make me happy?  And I usually end up feeling trapped, because it's a situation I chose based on everyone else instead of what I truly wanted.  I finally decided to start making decisions for myself - like saying "No" if I don't want to go out, or play that particular game, and choosing things for their potential to make me happy instead of what would fit most easily into our current lives.

But I've barely done this at all and I already feel a twinge of uneasiness and a bit of guilt for even considering it.  It doesn't feel like "self love."  It feels selfish and inconsiderate.  Especially when it concerns one of the other examples.  If I do what I want to do, I won't be volunteering at that charity event.  Sorry, people in need!  I chose to follow my own personal desires instead of helping you.  And what about career?  Oh, sorry Ryan, I got a new job that makes half the salary but it's what I love to do!  You didn't really care about our old standard of living, did you?

To sum up: It's tough.  I don't know where the line is, which side of it I currently stand on, or even whether or not I'm a jerk.  I don't want to be, but if worrying about it is going to cause me anxiety and guilt, maybe it's time just embrace whatever it is that I am.

Do you ever feel guilty when you shouldn't?  Do you think it's ok to be a jerk sometimes?

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  1. Yes I feel guilty when I shouldn't, like when I want to hear the news and I tell Little K to stop talking and be quiet. She's a kid talking and playing is her job.

    I also feel like being a jerk is sometimes necessary as well, as a friend you should be able to tell your friends they're being dumb. It's your job even if it makes you a jerk.

    As for charity work, we adopted a beach access I could do my own charity work on my own time with people I like. :)

  2. Volunteering can be hard because you want to do something good but then you get people that aren't there for those reasons...or the people of the organization that you are trying to help treat you like you are in the way.

    And I get the whole thing with friends. As an adult, we really learn who are true friends, who are friends with you for the wrong reasons, who has changed, etc.

  3. I feel guilty that sometimes I can't feel happy about someone else's success. It makes me more aware of my own failures or what I'm missing in my life.

    1. Oh, that's a good one. I mean, not a good thing to do, but a very human thing and something a lot of us struggle with. I've caught myself doing this on the rare occasion, not just when someone is successful, but when it seems too "easy." You know, because of course I know everything that's going on in someone's life and totally have the right to judge whether or not they put effort into something. :P

  4. I feel like that a lot on all of those categories. It gets so hard sometimes to balance everything, make everyone happy, and then stand up for yourself at the end. We need to be able to say say no and not feel guilty about it. Great post as always!

  5. I definitely have these feelings sometimes too. I feel guilty and like a bad person most of the time, because sometimes I would rather live in my bubble than be aware of bad things going on.
    As for people and things like that, I have made a conscious effort this year to have zero to do with the negative people in my life. now i know everyone always says that, and i thought i did it too, but i really had to look at the people in my life - sure they weren't being mean or whatever but they weren't doing anything for me either, as selfish as it sounds, i was wasting energy on them that i could be wasting on other things or people.


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