The phrase “I told you so” is amongst the most obnoxious things ever to be uttered in human history. It implies a smirking superiority, that the person who has stepped outside their box has made a humiliating mistake. How dare someone leave the warm security of their comfort zone, a tattered, worn-out place littered with the remains of who we no longer wish to be. If no one ever abandoned the easiness of familiarity, then we would all remain stagnant, trapped inside a stunted version of ourselves. Not knowing what could have been can sometimes be the greatest blessing, but can also shackle us unbearably tightly.
In this social-media centric world we live in, our mistakes can be magnified, spread, re-Tweeted, “liked” on Facebook, to the point where we want to lie about them and by extension, who we are. There is a ridiculous amount of posturing, everyone only sharing the juiciest tidbits of their lives, gloating about their accomplishments, disguising their failures. It is not wrong to only share slices of one’s life; it is well within their prerogative to do so. But how can anyone act as if they never screw up?
I have had friendships with people in which I felt as if I couldn’t really share with them. It was as if the mere existence of the human condition made them uncomfortable, that they could not find the smallest grain of empathy to relate to my plight. Maybe it’s a symptom of a bleeding heart, but I have never been able to muster up the snark to pretend to be effortlessly above someone else’s predicament, especially when I am well aware that I am capable of making my own mistakes. Empathy, in my opinion, is a sign of true strength, and it doesn’t mean you are agreeing with what someone else did. It just means you understand that making mistakes (even big ones) is inevitable, and that it’s important it is to be self-aware so you don’t repeat what others have done.
Of course, telling someone “I told you so” can be sickly gratifying. It feels nice to be right, doesn’t it? You knew something they didn’t! You were ahead of the game, maybe this was one of the rare times you actually got a chance to one-up someone else. We’ve all been there.
But if you really think about it, when a person feels good about himself or herself, there’s no need to tear someone else apart for their less-than-perfect moments. When we feel good about ourselves, we want others to be right there with us. We want them to feel the happiness and positivity brimming from inside us, to realize that our thoughts really do control what happens to us. That’s why it’s important to keep cruelty and judgment out of our thoughts, because of how harmful it can be to others and ourselves.
I hope that one day people can all be more honest about their mistakes. It just seems sad that we’re supposed to be embarrassed or secretive about “bad” things that are part of the human condition, things we have all experienced at one time or another. We’re meant to make mistakes so we can learn to do better. Making someone else feel ashamed because they were driven to do something either you didn’t have the guts to do or feel is impractical is a colossal waste of time. It doesn’t serve a purpose other than to humiliate and impart shame on the person who is the one most aware of his or her mistake.
In the end, acceptance is what needs to happen. Without acceptance of ourselves and our mistakes (they aren’t one and the same), we can never move forward and become better human beings. Accepting the you of the past, present, and future is the only way to feel fulfilled. Accepting other people for who they are in this present moment is the only way to find peace in relationships. The only thing that truly matters is what you are doing now.