Like A Fashionable, Selfish Mother Teresa

I am currently undergoing an overload of empathy. I have always prided myself on being an empathetic person. I am sensitive, I don’t like hurting people, I try and make everyone else happy, often to the detriment of myself. On the other hand, I am incredibly selfish. I do good things almost like I am putting money in some sort of karma bank that will then allow me to be selfish later. I try and do as many good things as possible so I can try and fuel this idea I have of myself that I am a good person and the world owes me. Everyone owes me. And when people interact with me like I’m a normal person, rather than the generous beautiful child of God that I am, I get resentful. Shouldn’t they know what a good person I am? Shouldn’t they try to accommodate me? I’m basically Mother Teresa. Minus the whole telling people they’re going to hell for using birth control, but still.

The truth is, I just want to be a decent person. I do want to help people, and do good in the world, and be a force of positivity against all of the pain and cruelty that exists. But my obsessive mind makes that hard for me to do. Instead of focusing on what I can do to make the world a better place, I drown in thoughts of all the things in the world that are wrong. These thoughts invade me at any time- before work, as soon as I wake up, walking down the street. They devour my mind and leave me spinning in a cycle of powerlessness and self-pity. When I am lost there, of course, I can help no one. How can I transmit something I haven’t got?

I hear a lot about how I shouldn’t focus on what needs to be changed in the world, but on what needs to be changed in me and my attitude. And I know in my heart that that’s right. But there are so many times where I just can’t handle the state of the world. Syria. North Korea. Gays getting tortured in Chechnya. Trans people being villified and marginalized in America. Politics in general. I try not to get involved much politically, because it only ever brings me pain and frustration at my lack of power to do anything. And that powerlessness causes me to lash out at those closest to me. Why doesn’t anyone care as much as I do? What are you doing about Syria, Mom? Nothing! Do you even care? Why doesn’t anyone care? If only everyone in the world was as caring and sensitive as I am, none of this would be happening. (This is the kind of annoying insanity that attacks my mind on a frequent basis).

Powerlessness is a funny thing. It causes me to attack myself, to ignore every good thing in my life and to only see the things that I cannot change. But I am not powerless. I might not be able to save the world, but I can at the very least save myself. And being the best person that I can be is the only way I’ll ever be of real service to anyone else. I can’t fix the whole world, but if I take care of myself, and continue to try and spread positivity and love, and have my voice heard, then I can at least be another force of good. And that means something.

-Theodore Dandy