The Power of Human Kindness
Just a few days ago I was at the lowest I’d been in awhile. I felt the ultimate shame because I knew my family was in trouble and I felt powerless to help them. On short notice my mother informed me that we were 500 dollars short for rent this month and it would be mere days until our landlord came to collect.
The reason I felt powerless was because to people on the outside, I appear to be a lowly parasite living off of my poor mother. In reality, I don’t want to be here at all. I desperately want to live independently and to have a proper job.
The truth is that I’ve been battling severe depression, for about 15 years now and anxiety for almost as long as that. A couple of years ago the panic attacks started up and I soon found myself losing jobs. Not because I was lazy, but because I’d end up obsessing over making everything perfect.
That may not sound particularly bad, but the anxiety and obsessive tendencies made it more likely that I would have accidents. Like I’d topple something over, or bump into things a bit too often. So I’d end up spending time fixing my mistakes and obsessing about getting things right to the point that not enough got done, and I wouldn’t realize it until it was too late.
Losing job after job and being unable to keep up the pace only made things worse, because then I’d be unable to sleep properly. I really started hating myself and getting more and more frustrated that I couldn’t make it all work. Which led to the panic attacks, and even more self-loathing.
Truth is, that it wasn’t just occupational stress and anxiety. It came from a long history of abuse and neglect from my parents who had also been abused. My family and my peers berated me for being different and introverted. I wasn’t the person they wanted me to be, and I hated myself for it.
Oddly enough, it was not until I lost nearly everything that I started to like myself a little. I had to lose almost all hope before things got a little better. So a few years ago I started blogging. Writing was something I’d always done and even in high school I was writing essays on the nature of humanity for fun. So I figured, what do I have to lose?
Several failed part time jobs later and I found myself doing volunteer work for an internet radio show known as Honey Badger Radio. It was difficult for me to see the impact that I made on people, being on the show, writing, and organizing show topics each week.
I got involved both because I cared about human rights, and because having a job to do gave me a reason to keep going. I never saw money for the countless hours I put into it all, meticulously obsessing on the research each week, but I didn’t care because I told myself I was having fun.
It’s true what they say, that if you do things right no one will be sure you’ve done anything at all. Because many people who watched episodes upon episodes of the show, not only had no idea of what I did, but often confused me for other people. So when I finally left the show about three months ago, after two years of work, I didn’t expect people to miss me or even notice.
But people did notice, and I got many messages from people saying that they missed me. Some even said that I was their favorite person on the show, which brought joy to me, but it didn’t end there. Just a few days ago I told some friends about us being short for rent this month and that we could be homeless if we didn’t come up with the money. They then talked me into doing a gofundme campaign.
Then I watched as people I’d helped in the past two years and complete strangers came to my aid. They could have turned me away, but they didn’t. Instead they showed me kindness, the likes of which I’ve never known. I’d been so jaded, and I had been really close to losing all faith in other people, but then there they were when I needed them most.
They helped me, my mom, and my cat no questions asked, and I was overwhelmed with their compassion. I honestly cried until I was completely drained, and cried some more. Because within three hours of it going up, we had the money we needed.
For the longest time I felt like a failure, and that I’d failed everyone who mattered. But it wasn’t true. I’d spread awareness for causes. I talked to people when they were feeling down. I made people laugh when they really needed it. Those things were worth something to someone.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, that the world isn’t quite as dark as I thought it was. When you give something to others, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem, people notice. There are glimmering moments of beauty in the darkness of human existence, and they make all of the suffering worthwhile.