Michael He

May 6, 2022

Run Clear of Bitterness

I don't really give advice anymore. If I say something that applies to people in general then it sounds trite. If I say something that is specific then it runs the risk of not being useful. 

But one thing is probably worth repeating over and over to people young and not so young.

Don't stay bitter.

Life sometimes gives us awful outcomes to deal with. They can be very different in the size, but they suck either way. 

The outcomes do not matter as much as how we deal with them. A shallow stoic reading into this sentence suggests let go of the emotions, lower your expectations, et cetera. But anyone who has dealt with grief and frustration knows this is not possible. How can you let go of your real emotions when you are justified to feel that way (and probably should)?

If we don't properly work through our emotion, then we are just suppressing it for it to come back with a vengeance later. It's a debt that we must pay back one day. 

With that being said, it is also possible to be stuck in a pit. We can drown in sorrow, sadness, and depression. We will be frustrated, angry, and perhaps sometimes spiteful. We might even take our emotions out on other people often without knowing that. None of this is good.

We need to instead accept all the unsavory feelings and outcomes, but overcome them. Bitterness is like gross water. It smells. It poisons. It sucks. But like dirty water in most cases, turn on the faucet long enough and the water will run clear(er). 

When these feelings come up, we accept them. Then we properly send them off to the never-to-be-seen land and move on with our life. It's better to do this with people than alone, because having support and another perspective really helps in times of distress. 

I had been bitter for a long time. But being bitter didn't help me one bit. It was like alcohol. You drown in it, so you can forget its existence for a brief moment until things get that much worse. People who stay bitter become even more bitter. 

I can't lie about "letting go is easy." It is not. It took me more than ten years to finally part with some terrible experiences. What worked in the end is forgiveness. I realized I didn't need to rationalize things nor get even. Be sincerely forgiving, properly seal the deal, and time will do the rest.

I'm doing that right now, as I deal with several really upsetting news. It sucks to see things you've spent so much on go to waste. It sucks even more to know now the time is ticking for me to get my stuff together, as I'm graduating soon. But I will do what I have always done.

I will run clear of bitterness.