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  • Writer's pictureMyranda Wolfe

Cynicism - Redefined

It should not come as any surprise that I believe each person to be unique. Uniqueness, is the beauty of being human, and something I used to press upon Serenity. However, this does not stop me from understanding that there are people who share similar beliefs, traits, qualities and values. Why? Because we're human. Funny how that works.

There is one type of person that I seem to stumble across quite often though, more so now than ever before. The cynical person. It used to be me. And I often wonder if I find myself in their company because something in them is familiar, or if it's because they expose themselves in such loud ways that I never realized before because my volume matched their own.

I read a quote recently, and I do not remember who said it (I could Google, but I will not), that, "the worst type of person is the one who diminishes another person's joy." As simple as that. It would be easy to sit here and say that "misery loves company," but I don't feel the answer is so simple.

You can take cynicism at its core and say that there is an understanding that people are motivated by self-interest, therefore a cynical person would believe that any action of another is driven from a state of selfishness and not from a place of humanity. It is a bleak outlook, but a common one. It is easy to slip into when you have been repeatedly fucked over by another person or witnessed something similar one too many times. In the work setting, this mindset can come about when you spend years watching the politics play out. But cynicism is so much more than what we define it by.

When I think of a cynical person, I think of this person I speak of who frowns at another person's joy, particularly when that joy is being derived by excitability or "childlike" qualities/hobbies. Because at the root of it, I believe a cynical person takes you at your face value and applies it to the entirety of who you are. I imagine them thinking, "If they could experience this much joy, they clearly have not experienced life and its woes. They're naive. They have not been hardened by life. They are not smart enough to know how the world works." In a way, it feeds this idea that they are superior to you, because it becomes this age old "child/parent" dynamic.

I personally believe this is one of the most damaging thought processes a person could have, not only for themselves but for the people they force it on.

As human beings, we want to belong, feel safe and to be included. For someone to downplay any part of what makes us... us, is an initiative of exclusion. Of course the older we get, the more firm and secure we are in ourselves so the commentary is less damaging as we are able to compartmentalize. However, the younger we are, the more susceptible we are to it as it deters us from wanting to share pieces of ourselves.

But let's go beyond this.

As someone who has experienced immense, complicated grief over the loss of no longer one child, but two, I am incredibly proud to be capable of experiencing joy. I have no limits as to where that joy could come from, because I'll take any that I can get. And I do describe myself as an excitable person, because the "little things," as some say, are what makes us human. I would go as far as to say that I simply appreciate being alive. Each day that I'm given, I am hyperaware that it could end at any moment. And that, in itself, is a driving force as to how I experience joy and interact with others.

Similar to how there are many people who share the trait of cynicism, I know there are many people who share my traits as well.

For a person to actively seek to diminish joy, question it, or have the audacity to claim those who experience it could be naive... those are the naive folks, in my opinion. We have limited time here, and if you have not experienced grief or trauma, it is coming for you. None of us asked to be born, none of us make it out of this world unscathed. And if we are given the opportunity to experience a bit of joy, we latch on. If you choose not to, that is no fault of the one who chooses the opposite.

So go forth and enjoy your hobbies, work, life. Read your book, play your game, get excited about the grocery store. Listen to your silly music, plan your day trip, joke around with your coworkers.

The days are long but years are short.

We don't get to do it for a long time, but we can make it a good time.



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