Recently I finally have gotten around to reading something that has been on my “to read” list for a long time. Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. A fascinating short story about a man who becomes a bug. However, there is something about the story that has gotten stuck in my head. The main character Gregory, and his family rely heavily on societal expectations and pleasing them. Gregory’s very first thought upon turning into a bug is that he is late for work. He near kills himself to try and go to work, despite turning into a giant beetle, for fear of being fired from his job even though he has never been late in years of working. His family hides Gregory away as a shameful thing. To make up for the lack of his income, they all get jobs and rent a room out of the house to make money. They go to insane lengths to please the renters of the room. Meanwhile, Gregory hides away and makes a great effort not to upset his family despite being mistreated and dying. He places the needs of others so far above himself that he dies not to upset it. His family only grow contempt for Gregory and wanted to get rid of him near the end. They decide that Gregory has no intelligence from his formal life because they never try to look and Gregory never tried to show it. In the end, Gregory dies alone, and the family gets a happy ending, calling out of work for the first time, kicking out the renters, and firing the rude maid. They realize they can do what they want with their lives and have an open future ahead of them.
So why is this story so stuck in my head? Gregory dies alone with his family seeing him as nothing but a giant insect with no intelligence. This is depressing alone but it’s Gregory’s nature that hits me. I used to be a lot like him. Haveing so little self-worth that any action was taken by the people around me always held more value than myself. I was prepared to die alone in my room trying to cause as little trouble to others as possible. Perhaps like Gregory, I saw myself as an insect. I would live and die a short life avoiding the lives of others.
Self-worth is just so very important to a healthy life. Somewhere along my life I never learned it, and have been trying ever since. If you don’t have the confidence to take a single sick day from work, to take care of yourself then you are barely living. It’s okay to be selfish, your existence is important enough that you can slightly burden others.
PS. I like to thank my brother for letting me rant about Kafka for a night.
I have not written anything here for a little while. I’ve been unsure what to write. I write to make myself feel better but part of me also writes for a bit of validation. Not that I seek attention, but rather I just want people to know. I don’t even need people to understand, just a nod of their head telling me they at least heard or read what I have to say. Perhaps that part of me comes from being alone for so long that I never had people to even tell even my most benign thoughts too.
People have died in my world recently. Not anyone close, but not so far away as I would not notice. Death makes my problems seem petty and insignificant. In truth they are, it does not make them go away or change how I feel but I know they are. I fear for the future of my father because I can tell he does not believe he has one. He is stuck in a job he is too old to be doing, and all his friends are dead. I once said that I live in a manner that is just me committing suicide the long way around. My father is doing a much better job of it than me. All he has left are alcohol and a woman he dates simply so he won’t be alone. This alcoholic who broke my heart a thousand times slowly dying ahead of me.
What about me? I grasp for moments of happiness. I do things for the first time other have taken for granted. I can actually be happy for short periods of time. It’s the moments before and after that trouble me. A night with friends fills me with anxiety. I have trouble making phone calls and am worried something will always go wrong. Then after, I feel regret. Not at a good time, I just had but rather that I never had such experiences before. I think of the past and fall deeper down a spiral of depression. Am lucky if the only thing I feel is just empty. The funny thing about time is that it won’t stop. Life does not stop for me, my problems, my father’s problems or anyone else. Even death does not stop the march of time, at least not for everyone else. So am alive, and I will keep watching the time slip forward for as long as I am alive. Just doing my best.
Bullying is a topic that come up a lot in the news. Sadly its often long after the damage is done. Many people have an opinion on it, some I find are just filled with ignorance. Bullying is at it’s worst when its sustained over long periods of time. Not just a one time fight on the playground but weeks, months, even years of continued mental and/or physical abuse.
Some say “Bullying is just part of life, and kids need to learn to deal with it.” Well yes, but don’t expect them to grow healthy coping methods out of thin air. “Stand up to your bully and they will stop” Most bully’s target people that can’t stand up for themselves. They pick on people younger, or have less friends to back them up, and people who don’t have the social skills to handle it. Then they keep on bullying till there self confidence is so low they are almost broken.
My first bully was my brother, he was two years older then me, an although we since have found friendship he was not my last bully. That lack of self confidence that could only let me take taunts by pretending to ignore them. I became a figurative punching bag because I made no reactions back. When I snapped and tried to fight back, I was pushed down all the harder because I was well out numbered.
There is no easy fix for bullying. Being too heavy handed, or too soft can make things worse. It may always exist but that does not mean we have to tolerate it. Helping a victim have a little more self confidence is much easier then trying to fix one that has completely broken down.