Malice comes in many different forms – harsh and false words, spiteful actions, inactions that cause damage, and almost anything that is done with the intention to hurt. As a child, I was frequently the victim of ridicule by peers for being dark-skinned. It’s silly the effect childish nastiness can have, it can follow you into your teenage years and even adulthood. It probably wasn’t until my junior or senior year of college that I completely got over the wound that self-consciousness of my skin had created about my appearance. I guess somewhere along the way, the label, “pretty girl” was used to describe me, or something like that. Whatever.
I don’t know if I became a pretty girl physically by society’s often nonsensical standards or I just started to exude some kind of confidence about my appearance. And that confidence was not just about my appearance but about who I was becoming. Somewhere in the midst of my awkward stage or as I call it, “ugly stage,” I figured I would have to focus on being other things in life. If the world wasn’t going to see me as physically beautiful, then I was going to be smart, I was going to be athletic, and I was going to be funny. I was going to be something and I was going to be someone.
In one way or the other, I think many of us are victims and perpetrators of unkind behavior towards others. And I’m not talking about not being nice. Truth be told, some of the most insufferable people I have ever encountered are “nice.” They’re nice but they don’t try to be good; they don’t try do the right thing. So I’m talking about how we’re not always good to each other; we sometimes treat others unfairly, cruelly, in a manner that is unwarranted and undeserved. And I don’t know about you but when I get treated vengefully, my human instinct is to fire back and fight back. After all, revenge is sweet, isn’t it?
Revenge can feel good – giving someone back the feeling of hurt that they gave us can feel satisfying in the moment. I’m not a saint; this is simply the truth. But no one tells you that the sweet feeling of revenge is fickle and fleeting. No one tells you that revenge makes you just as nasty and malicious and in the wrong as the person who treated you poorly. In a world where you have to stand up for yourself and go after what you want, do it because you deserve to be heard, and do it because you’re willing to fight for what you want and how you want to be treated. But don’t do it out of revenge. Don’t do it out of revenge because the lasting feeling is ultimately bitterness. And don’t do it out of revenge because there is a better option: Success.
Few things compare to the feeling of success. It’s not a universal construct because it means different things to different people. But it’s one of those things that you know that you’ve got when you’ve got it. When I realized I was comfortable in my own skin and was for the most part, happy with who I was, I reached a certain success in overcoming negative conceptions of how I felt about how I looked. Those memories that I harbored for so long still surface from time to time, but they no longer have control.
I don’t know who has hurt you or who will hurt you and I don’t know what you’ve been through. But I do know that returning the nastiness to anyone who ever hurt me never felt good in the long run. It certainly never felt quite as good as becoming that something and someone they thought I couldn’t be – successful. So that’s what I urge you to do and yes it’s pretty corny – don’t be revengeful, be successful.