A conversation with society

Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018

Every judgment or question I receive pertaining to my life and how I live it leads to more and more questions and answers that delve into my belief system. I could spend hours, weeks, and months having conversations in which I try to get my points across to someone; sometimes they finally understand me after a long process, sometimes they don’t. If they do, there’s one more person. I think my beliefs are how I’m going to survive in this world, and the people around me need to know so that I have a support system. So I am going to have a conversation with society, and hopefully by our conclusion, you too will understand.

A woman sits in front of me, seemingly perfect to the untrained eye. But oh, her eyes. In her eyes, there is the intense passion for competition- the need for more- their piercing glance a thick needle to a black hole syringe that drains life in pints. Her face is beautiful. She is intimidating. She is terrifying.

Why don’t you try harder? When it’s late and you have homework you should be catching up on, why don’t you just stay up all night and get everything done? Why not work all through the day? What is stopping you from greatness?

It does not make me happy to torture myself for an assignment. One of hundreds- thousands- that I’ve done over the years and will do for the foreseeable future. The letter grade no longer makes me angry or depressed. I am unlearning self-hatred and letting myself slack. An all A student okay with getting Bs? I never thought I’d value myself over my work, but I need to.

Why does it matter? Torture yourself, get the best grades, get into one of the top schools, do well there too, get a job, make a lot of money, have a family, you’ll be happy.

No. Those top schools are glorified, and I don’t want the same pressure I feel here to be even worse there. The best grades don’t matter– either way, I am going to graduate. I have gotten myself here; I can get myself further. I don’t want a high-paying job doing something I’m not passionate about. I don’t want children of my own; I want to take care of the people who are here already. The world creates enough every day; upkeep is vital to the survival of the planet.

What if you struggle financially? What if you end up on the street with nowhere to go? You could be a surgeon and save hundreds of lives; you could solve mathematical theories; you could change the world. Why don’t you want to provide for the world? Why don’t you want to do the best you can to give back to me? Why don’t you want to live to benefit me?

If I struggle financially, so be it. Struggle builds character. If I end up homeless, that’s just a part of my life– I will get through it. Maybe I won’t. Either way, the world goes on. My world goes on. Maybe when I’ve lost everything and have nothing left to give, I will find myself at my happiest. So many people work every day of their lives to give back to you, Society, and they aren’t happy. Nothing is ever enough. You want more and more and more from every soul who is willing to latch onto the charity case. “Yes sir, this job makes you happy, and you’re completely content here, but that other job offer pays more, and maybe you could afford that Mustang you want to show up to your high school reunion in. Don’t you want more for yourself?” Nothing is ever enough. We always want more money, more things, more credit hours, more certificates, more success, more attention, more people’s approval. Where does it stop? The answer is it doesn’t. We are working towards happiness we will never find because we think the best, the most successful, is happy. We will die never knowing happiness if we don’t stop and realize that what we have is good enough. We are good enough.

Everyone wants to be the best. Everyone wants the attention for being successful, recognition for what they go through every day– don’t deny you don’t.

I won’t. For a long time, nothing was ever enough. I didn’t rest. I was a machine amongst a world of machines looking for constant improvement. I wanted people to notice me. I wanted the world to know that I was alive, that I was in this world. But we’re all in this world. We all have a story. Only the people who make us happy need to know we exist. People who make us smile and laugh and accept us for everything we are and could be. No one whose approval we feel we need. If we’re not happy to be here, we might as well be dead. The only person whose approval matters is us.

When will you learn that?