On idealism, age and judgement(s).

Disclaimer: this post is brought to you by me given “the talk” on how young age can bring such idealism that apparently dissolves into nothingness when you enter the “real world.” And I beg to differ, reality does not come with responsibilities brought by age. The concept of “real world” only applies to those who aren’t ready for it. You only live today for today; there is no preparing for the future — only by going through the present. 

My job entails talking to people everyday, maybe six full hours of my usual nine-hour workdays. (Okay, maybe four full hours.)

My job entails literally reading what is going on with people’s lives, what has happened within the past year – in between things beyond their control and things they choose to be beyond their control. Reading what is going on with people’s lives, and how my job affects what they’re going to have to eat within the next week, or how much money they can have to buy alcohol for the next few days.

My job entails listening to people: the indifferent ones, the grateful ones, and most of the time, the struggling ones. Having spent eight full months into this job, I have figured out a way into weeding the lies in between the context. I talk to people all the time and I hate to have to admit this, but sometimes all stories weave into a universal plot. (Although I feel like that goes for the entire humanity but that’s another story or not.) Jobs require results, and when I am pressed for time, I am afraid that more often than I want it to, faces, names and stories turn into numbers and plainly into tasks I have to meet for the day. And the next time we talk, I really don’t remember the details off the top of my head.

Everyday I walk into my office; I walk into an office with everyone older than I am. I can safely assume that I am the youngest person who works in our office and I genuinely believe that the more years you spend on this lovely planet, the wiser you become. But age is just a number, and it does not discredit what you have experienced and what you have to say.

I am happiest when I can hear a smile on the other end of the line when I tell people they have more money today. I am happiest when I can tell them they’re disqualified for the program because they’re over income – and congratulate them on the new job. I am happiest when they share their struggles and at least for the time have them feel that someone sincerely feels for them (because I sincerely do—at least for the time being). I am happiest when I can help the elderly ones fill out paperwork because they can’t read; and wait for that sigh of relief that they have finally submitted all the taxing, required paperwork.

And the list goes on.

All these do not mean that I am the nicest, and all these do not mean that I always have nice people to talk to. I cannot count the number of times I have been shouted at, or mocked, or shouted at, or shouted at. When program regulations get crazier by the minute, it’s hard to explain in plain, simple words how this is rational at all but I have to. I have to conform to rules even I do not completely understand. And on the other side, when they have to make ends meet, sometimes people think they have to resort to lying.

And I get lied to — in my face every single day. But I think to myself, if they had a better choice, they would not be here. What people do to you does not justify how you can treat them. Last week, I was subtly reminded how age can bring you so much idealism as you can be so naïve to a lot of things. They say that life is pretty much a choice, and I agree a hundred percent. Circumstances aside, life is really how you make it. But what I mean by people not having a better choice, is making that choice itself. (Really, how many times can I write choice?)

Just the fact that they think that quitting their job is better because they would have more money from our program is sad. Just the fact that they think that saying this and that and this and that instead of the plain truth is already sad. Just the fact that they could not bring themselves to make better choices, or that they could not bring themselves to the idea that whatever has happened in the past does not have to repeat itself is really sad. Who am I to judge what their motives are? Who am I to say that my life is so much better than theirs?

Anyway. I have so much respect for older people; but I hope when I become older, I wouldn’t hold people guilty before they’re proven innocent. I hope that as I get older, I wouldn’t be so hard on other people nor to myself. I hope that I can easily forgive what imperfect ways people have to say to go through and get through life. And I hope that I don’t judge younger people on all the positivity they have and carry around with them.

 “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”

One time I had a person wait for me for an hour, and I was utterly sorry. To which she was quick to ask: “are you new?” As I said yes, she told me she knew it. I promised her I’ll still be sorry for whatever wrong I’ll do when I’m no longer new.

***

Don’t get me wrong, I judge people a lot. I judge people who takes tons of selfies when the truth is, I do too. I judge people who wear almost nothing outside when the truth is, I am just plain insecure of my weight. I judge people a lot, and writing this serves a constant reminder that I have no right; whatever the circumstances may be.

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