If I could go back in time, I would like to help my younger self understand that human beings are a whirl of complexity. We tend to categorize people as friend or foe, good or bad, eat or be eaten. We too often interact with people as though we were a small primate in a tree in the jungle having to make a split decision for our survival.
I would encourage my younger self to enjoy the wondrous dimensionality of every person she will ever know. Even the worst person will have some good part to their personality. Even the best person will have aspects that are not so admirable. Over the years I have had people I thought were my friends turn into utter jerks—to use a kinder, gentler term. It was only later that I discovered that they were in physical or emotional pain. I wish that I had been aware enough to begin to look at that, to perhaps probe, or at least not to take the interaction so personally. Even the most aggressive person can be passive at times. Even the most passive person can have an aggressive side. Even the most dependable, loving person will at times disappoint us and let us down. At the same time, some person we dismiss as not friend-worthy will come to our rescue. Every friend, colleague, family member will have a part of them that irrigates the heck out of us. If we look hard enough, everyone we meet will have a side that is utterly charming.
Of course, the same is true of ourselves. Sometimes we are jerks, sometimes wonderful individuals. In some situations we are aggressive, at other times we may surprise ourselves with our passivity. At times we are generous, at other times selfish. For people who are depressed, it is too easy to only see the times they didn’t behave according to their ideal. Others feel misunderstood when people imply they ever behaved other than admirably.
I would give my younger self a “prism” so that she could see all the colors within each person she meets and within her own self.