Once in a while on Instagram I come across a saying, quote or some exercise motivating message. Once or twice I’ve come across this particular one: “There are two types of people in your life: blessings and lessons.”
Recent experiences have got me contemplating the universality of this Instagram-infiltrating mindset, requiring a person to be categorized in either of the two boxes.
No offense to whoever came up with such a dichotomy but if you hadn’t noticed, we are currently living in a world where a reality TV family (Klue: K) earns so much more than an Academy Award winner. We’ve seen such a rapid rise in the percentage of people who make us second-guess what lesson exactly they’re teaching us. If everyone is in our lives for a purpose, what exactly is theirs? So with Jersey Shore characters specifically in mind, I propose that the above saying be given a twenty-first century facelift.
So let me propose a new theory. There are not two, but three types of people you’ll meet in your life.
In the first category enter the Blessings. These are angels in human form. I know, I know. No relationship – platonic, familial, nor romantic – is ever a breeze hundred percent of the time. Bumps, humps, and grand canyon-like ditches are to be expected. Still, these people are considered enormous blessings- the people you thank God for, the ones you want to keep in your life and who actually want to stay. The real keepers who know and love you. This may be the wife you’ve been married to for 40 years, or the boyfriend who still makes you wonder how you bagged such a catch. This can be an angel of a boss (not everyone’s lucky in this regard and for that I am eternally grateful) or a mother who showers you with unconditional love; A best friend who lives thousands of miles away but still makes you feel like the friendship is stronger than any geographic boundary. Since this is too subjective a category, here are some examples of blessings in other less human forms – happiness in a box (Clueless), in a bigger box (H&M), in a bowl (Ramen) and on a plate and by the dozen (cronut). Then there’s Jennifer Lawrence.
The second, Bittersweet Lessons. There are people who are meant to come and go – this cliche I agree with. Some really just are. And even if you might not have wanted them to leave, well, they did. And truthfully, we wouldn’t get so affected and riled up about their disappearance if these people never meant anything to us in the first place. So this category, which you can liken to any circle of choice from Dante’s hell, is where exes come in – ex-lovers, ex-best friends, ex-business partners and so forth; relationships that once brought joy and hope, but probably ended acrimoniously. Whether it was sudden death or a painfully slow one, these are the people who actually brought about important life lessons/realizations albeit putting you through hell. Take Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston for example. I am still unsure of who I root for more (though years after it probably doesn’t matter), but thanks to his marriage with Jen, Brad may have realized how much he wanted kids – and how many for that matter- so he sought out a partner who was on the same page in wanting to raise a legion. Then there’s Andrea Sachs and Vogue, I mean Runway. Or. R-Patz and K-Stew. Whether or not you forgive this former part of your life is completely up to you, but hopefully down the road you could get past the resentment and the voodoo dolls and realize that their life cameo came with the high price of self-awareness. And for that we should be thankful. Somehow.
Here is where the difference lies: there is another category and in it are your Character Building Exercises. Unlike the lessons, these are people who do not teach you anything worthwhile but make each interaction so emotionally jarring and exhausting. These are the classic D-bags, b*tches and overall jerks who you unfortunately have to deal with on a regular basis whose sole existence could prompt a new CSI season in which you contemplate the many ways of committing a crime. (I kid.) This is the dwelling place of Regina George where we all feel victimized. This can be your class bully who taunts you time and again. This can be your uber-negative officemate who does nothing but complain (about you and everybody else). If it was constructive, their criticism might be forgiven. But it never is. These are people who try to bring you down because of their own sick, twisted selves. They do not teach you anything you didn’t already know. What they actually do is test every single character trait – your patience, your temper, your judgment, etc. – incessantly and unerringly.
So the next time you deal with an Exercise, treat him/her as exactly that – a test. Figure out which virtue that person is trying at each specific interaction. I think the logical, 3rd person observer approach helps.
And as you leave, pat yourself on the back, smile to yourself and send a mental message to the a** saying “F*** you, I passed.”