I had a realization the other day that I can sum up as the following: the older I get, the less I understand people.
In my younger years I smacked of that youthful optimism that all people who haven’t experienced the real world reek of. In my late teens and early twenties, I was basically ignorant–filled with preconceived notions and ideas fed to me by others. As time wore on and I experienced more, I encountered resistance. Relationships weren’t going the way that I thought they would. The values that I thought were there suddenly weren’t. The things that I had always been told about love and connecting with other people were rapidly losing traction.
This has all culminated with me entering a phase of my life I’ve called “the disillusionment phase.” I’d say that my naive optimism has been replaced by a healthy skepticism. People aren’t motivated by altruism or the virtuous forces of love–more often than not they’re motivated by self-interest, hedonism, or power. A lot of people will walk all over you if it helps further their agenda, whether it be at work or in a relationship. For that matter, “relationships” as I once thought of them in reality do not exist.
I don’t understand how someone can be in love with multiple people at once. I don’t understand how people can have sex with zero emotional attachment. I don’t understand how drugs can be a viable lifestyle. I don’t understand how people can value money over other human beings. I don’t understand how people can turn their back on science on evidence because it makes them face reality or feel uncomfortable. I don’t understand how pointing a finger and blaming someone became more important than finding the solution.
Everything that I thought was true is being categorically disproved the older I get. Turns out that loyalty and dedication DON’T make for a good relationship. Turns out that empathy is a weakness that others will exploit. Turns out that most people want to escape reality and not deal with their problems. Turns out that opinion matters more than fact. Turns out that lust is more important than love and physical appearance is more important than personality.
It’s not that I believe that there aren’t any good people out there. There are, I’ve met them. I’m friends with them. It’s just that the world and most of the people in it aren’t at all like I imagined them to be, for better and (more frequently) for worse.