Playing Victim
(The Freeman) - February 17, 2019 - 12:00am

Next month, I’ll be one year closer to pushing 40. There’ll be no denying then that I’m well within midlife. I started this column when I was only year out of college and on my first job. (It’s still the same job, by the way, just different responsibilities.) I suppose this column is the silent observer to my adulting, one of the few constants in my adult life. If there’s one thing that immediately comes to the surface of what this entire column has been about, it’s really my desire to grow older in as graceful a manner as I can.

As I grow older, I look at the people around me, especially those older than I am and I see who I can pattern myself after or at least learn the most from. I’ve noticed that the ones who grow gracefully, the ones who are better and not bitter, have one thing in common – they take responsibility for their choices. Some of them have overcome tragedies. Some of them have not. But it’s not the circumstances that are different – it’s how they choose to accept them.

It is true that we do not choose everything that happens to us. Life has a way of surprising us with both the positive and the negative. Those who age gracefully do not deny the tragedies or even the hurts. But they are able to overcome them because they understand that one single experience does not necessarily define the rest of their lives – in other words, they choose not to play the victim.

Which leads me to realize that there are people who can actually choose victimhood as a way of life. They do not only give themselves permission to feel their sorrow or injustice or anger, they actively choose to cultivate it. And then they play the blame game. They’re never at fault. It’s always someone else’s actions that make life miserable for them. They fail to see that they are perpetuating their own tragedy if not by the consequences of their own choices then by their choice to react to them in a certain way.

My great fear is to grow older and realize that I have chosen to take a supporting role in my own life.  I do not mean to control every aspect of my life since I know that also leads to neurosis. But I do pray to be given the grace to learn to take responsibility for my choices, to give and sacrifice on my own dreams for a far greater love, and to always see that life albeit imperfect is still beautiful.

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